Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The O.J. I remember

When it was reported that O.J. Simpson was arrested on suspicion of robbery, it suddenly occurred to me what I have been missing ever since he first got in trouble back in the mid-1990s.

His films.

Never a Lawrence Olivier or Denzel Washington, Simpson did carve out a non-descript acting career, essentially cashing in on his celebrity status. He appeared in a few TV movies, including a series of one where he played a washed-up boxer with a little girl named Goldie by his side.

Simpson played a detective in the Police Squad movie, in which he was very funny. Perhaps his best role on screen. He also played a detective in a drama along with the late Elizabeth Montogomery, a mismatched salt-and-pepper police team. A pretty good movie I recall, but like the others I mentioned, haven't seen it on television lately.

And who can forget his non-award-winning role in The Towering Inferno, with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. I think O.J. died in it -- in fact, I know he did because back then, and even now, the chances of a Black actor surviving through a disaster movie solely depends on their star status.

Certainly you remember Simpson in those Hertz commercials, hurling over suitcases in airports? Riveting stuff.

Why haven't ESPN Classic shown Simpson's greatest games as a collegian or NFL star? It was, after all, his athleticism, his winning the Heisman Trophy; his two-initial name that gave him fame in the first place. The game in which Simpson surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark as a Buffalo Bills runner, the first time in NFL history, is a better classic than some of the junk ESPN Classic purports as such.

Wouldn't it be great to see a O.J. Simpson film festival on TV Land or TV One's "Throwback Theater"! I would love to rent that Police Squad movie.

Instead, Simpson is only remembered as the one who got away with two murders. Having found not guilty began people to think that the American justice system is out of whack. Such thinking never surfaced when Whites were getting off for killing Blacks once upon a time, but as soon as O.J.'s verdict came down, the firestorm for change swept this country.

I always felt that after he was cleared that it was best for Simpson to leave the country and start anew. However, he is addicted to attention, the limelight -- an addiction that has caused him problems ever since. Simpson keep putting himself in crazy situations, such as this latest one.

O.J. keeps hoping that one day the American public will forgive him and allow him back into their good graces. Others who have done considerably less, have -- Martha Stewart got caught for insiders trading, serve jail time and now she's hawking her goods for Macy's. Richard Nixon left office in disgrace, but after a few years, he was considered a great statesman and tot a fond farewell at his funeral.

But Simpson's scarlet letter is much larger. It is a permanent marker that won't ever wash off.

Whether he broke into a Las Vegas hotel room, as Simpson is charged with along with carrying guns and kidnapping (?), is still debatable. If he indeed was invited to the room to get back his own stuff, then how can this be breaking and entering. If he was indeed secretly taped, as O.J. claims, what happened to former Washington D.C. mayor Marion (The B**** set me up) Barry seems childlike in comparison.

Simpson lost his benefit of the doubt card long ago. As a result, these charges might be just enough to land him in prison, which many thought he should be in the first place.

I rather see Simpson's past film work, his on-field exploits, again grace the small screen.

That's the O.J. Simpson I want to remember.

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