The final episode of The People vs. O.J. Simpson (i.e., lead-up to and the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict) aired last night…wham. All hail director Ryan Murphy and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewki. Each and every episode has hit the spot — no one has disputed this — and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that a pile of Emmy nominations (especially, I’m guessing, for Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and John Travolta along with the creators) will happen.
But as much as I enjoyed and admired the finale, it couldn’t stand up to my recollections of the real thing on TV and particularly that nauseating feeling that settled in among whites when they realized that 95% of the black community cared more about sending a fuck-you message to racist police regimes than accepting the obvious in terms of Simpson’s guilt.
The jury didn’t want to find him guilty and so they didn’t. And so they embraced denial like a life preserver and freed a rich Brentwood murderer who once said “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” Brilliant, guys.
The night of the verdict (or was it the following night?) Julia Phillips and I took part in a N.O.W. candlelight parade that went from San Vicente and 26th down to the late Nicole Brown Simpson‘s condo on Bundy. And then everyone sang “Amazing Grace.”
I’m sensing that a fuller picture of the tragedy will emerge when ESPN’s five-part O.J. Simpson documentary (which I decided against seeing during last January’s Sundance Film Festival because ESPN insisted on screening it (a) on the first Friday of the festival and (b) over an entire day) airs in June.