Sunday, November 19, 2006
OJ, OJ, OJ...
Well, I was going to wait to engage this topic, but since I have heard so many people discuss it I thought I would give it at least a little attention (maybe more than that). For those that may have been visiting another planet and have just returned you have likely just heard of O.J. Simpson's new interview on FOX, which will also be a book. http://fox.com/oj/
As expected many Americans both white and black have expressed disdain about this latest OJ development. For some, he just seems to never go away. OJ in many respects is like Sean "Puffy" "P-Diddy" Combs (or whatever the hell he is calling himself now) to me...always wanting some attention. Let's move beyond that though and look at what this really is about. Many Americans have said that OJ is making a mockery of the justice system and should be ashamed for what he is doing. Thus, you get the emergence of the white angst about the murder trial that they still cannot get over. Others, say, "Why can't OJ just leave well enough alone?" I will admit initially, I thought, "OJ deserves whatever the hell he gets after having pulled this latest stunt. He really has some serious balls to do something like this."
Over the weekend however, I reflected back on the fallen American "hero" and put his situation in its right context. I think now that the fact that FOX is airing this show says a great deal about what people will do for money, not just OJ, but the FOX network. FOX is known as the home of conservative spun media with the likes of the damnable Bill O'Reilley and his pseudo-conservative neocons. If there were not a market for OJ, then they would not even attempt to air it. I have heard comments to the effect of how; "sick and disgusting" it is that OJ would dare speak of his dead ex-wife. Well, for those folk, my answer to you is don't watch it then. In a world where we continue to push the button in media this is the latest chapter in this sick saga. Americans in general enjoy being voyeurs of the world around them. The more "personal" we get the better. How many of us have watched reality TV shows and near death car chases and police captures, only to be like, "I'm glad that is not me." America is obsessed with programming that is "real". If it weren’t FOX would not even attempt to air this "special" at all. You could rest assured however, that O'Reilly has plenty to say about this, regardless.
FOX has a history of pushing the envelope from its experimentation with shows such as "Married with Children", "The Simpson’s", and "Family Guy" (I'm a big fan of all three) All these shows were rejected in other media outlets and FOX picked them up and developed a sort of reputation for testing the limits of regular broadcast television. With the development of the FOX NEWS network, I could say that this is some sort of diabolical plan to re-open fresh wounds not just about OJ, but to re-affirm the murderous tendencies of black men who lust for white women that goes back even further than D.W. Griffith's movie, Birth of a Nation, which happens to be the most successful and acclaimed piece of racist propaganda ever released (I'll have post about that movie later). It is ironic that earlier this month, that William Styron, author of The Confessions of Nat Turner, died. His book did much to further the notions of the "black brute" that lives to wage war against the white man by defiling the essence of republican motherhood encapsulated in the white woman. While this too is something and someone I will comment on later, it is worth mentioning in this context. Styron's ficticous account of Turner's rebellion became just as "real" to the majority of white America as did Thomas Dixon's the Klansman, the fictional novel that decades earlier was the inspiration for Birth of a Nation, and the second rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
I don't believe that OJ or FOX is trying to vilify all black men with airing this show, though I cannot say that subconsciously that will not happen. Also, if he did indeed commit those heinous murders he is indeed a sick man. Furthermore, FOX should be embarrassed as should those who take time to watch the show or purchase the book and complain about about how it shouldn't be on television. No matter how it is sold or spun it also shows just how low networks are willing to go with regard to programming. However we already knew that, right? Just look at how many "reality" television shows exist? In the end for FOX, as for those who will buy advertisement time on the network, it is about THE MONEY! It always has been and always will be. Think of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. Remember the quote, "If you build it, they will come"? It is no different here. Think about those who tuned in to see Michael Jackson's trial and his "exclusive" interview prior to the trial (Mike is another tragic American figure).
Now it is time for a brief history lesson. On August 28, 1955, a young man by the name of Emmett Till was kidnapped and viciously murdered for allegedly "whistling" at a white woman. His murderers, Joe Bryant and his half brother J. W. Milam, were arrested the next day, charged with the disappearance and murder of the 14-year old Till. By September 23, 1955 both Milam and Bryant are acquitted of murdering Emmett Till after the all white jury deliberates only 67 minutes. One juror informs a reporter that they would have given back the verdict sooner than that had they not taken a break to drink a soda. Boldly, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam stand before photographers, light up cigars and kiss their relieved wives in celebration of the not guilty verdict. Now, I ask you, where was the shame then? Where was justice? Where was the outcry about the cowardice of Milam and Bryant?
I'll tell you...there never has been any, justice, or shame about the law as it has related to Africans and African Americans just like Justice Roger B. Taney told Dred Scott, in 1857 that the, "negro had no rights the white man was bound to respect." Moreover, the justice system has the additional tendency to yield not just to racilized privilege but also to class status. Many scholars and common folk alike have argued that if OJ were not a rich, black athlete his story would not have recieved the coverage or verdict that it did. OJ's "dream-team" of attorneys did their job to see their client free. But one cannot deny the obsession with race in this instance.
I remember being in high school and seeing the verdict and cheering with classmates over the decision. Even then I thought about Emmett Till. He never got the chance to live life or grow up to have the families that his coward murders did. While they smoked cigars and kissed their wives, after having "protected" them from the 14-year old brute, Emmett's lifeless body became a martyr for a movement and a chilling reminder of just how deep-seated white racist attitudes and behaviors were. So, to OJ, I say, make your money. I could care less if he did murder Goldman and his ex-wife. I am NOT condoning their murders and my heart goes out to their families. However, in terms of the wrongs continually done to African and African Americans, I say to those who cast a blind-eye to the evils of our justice system to cry about OJ...GET SOME! Don’t be mad because OJ takes advantage of a corrupt system that so many others have. The question to ask if he were white, would “America,” and I am talking about the normative population, and those African-Americans who accommodate themselves to their will (and OJ was one of these as well) would there be this huge debate? I doubt it.
So when you see OJ smiling and smirking on television and it pisses you off, think about those white men, women, and children who took pictures next to the mutilated lifeless corpses during photo sessions after a lynching. Therefore if you get mad, help to change the justice system...if not, "don't hate the playa (OJ)...hate the game." Revenge, I have heard is a dish best served cold.
(For more information on Emmett Till check out http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/index.html)
Posted by negrointellectual at 4:29 PM