Feature: "I'm not black. I'm O.J.!"
In February 1995, Vanity Fair’s Dominick Dunne summed up the incontestable allure of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. “The Simpson case,” he wrote, “is like a great trash novel come to life, a mammoth fireworks display of interracial marriage, love, lust, lies, hate, fame, wealth, beauty, obsession, spousal abuse, stalking, brokenhearted children, the bloodiest of bloody knife-slashing homicides, and all the justice that money can buy.” Our fascination with it has not only persisted, but grown in time.
The scintillating trashiness Dunne wrote about was played up compellingly this year by the FX network’s cartoonish courtroom drama The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which unfolded like the TV equivalent of airport fiction. By contrast, ESPN’s new 7.5-hour documentary film event, O.J.: Made In America, premiering at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival this week, is The Grapes of Wrath, Beloved, The Great Gatsby, and In Cold Blood all at once. It’s the Great American Novel take on O.J., positioning his story not as mere lurid exploitation but as a distinctly American epic that articulates so much about the nation’s central, and perhaps its only, theme: race.
Special to Maclean's magazine.