What In The Hell Is Wrong With O.J.?

By Wendell P. Simpson
Updated: January 24, 2008

ORLANDOO.J. Simpson burst out of the turbulent late 60s on the winds of change and impeccable timing. Black rage was exploding in the ghettoes of America’s major cities while civil rights marchers in the South were determined to overcome someday by any means necessary.

White middle class kids were rebelling against the hypocrisy of the establishment, taking to the streets in massive demonstrations against another imperialist excursion in yet another backwater country, and the hippies were extolling the virtues of nihilism and free love.

America was reframing, reforming and the promise of the Great Society had not yet been defaulted on. Handsome, articulate, affable, innocuous, and an amazing physical specimen possessing the speed of a cheetah and more shake in his ass than a Masai warrior in the throes of the ritual dance.

The ‘SC back was going to juke the confines of his skin to become one of the point men for a radical new ideal, and the harbinger of a brand new kind of colored hero: Juice Armstrong, All-American Negro, the anti-Muhammad Ali.

Pitchman, celebrity, movie star, Simpson had the country by the balls. The American public loved him, embraced him, and he bought the hype, and basked ever-so-comfortably in the spotlight of his special status.

25 years later, O.J. was going to become the most reviled man in America, Frankenstein’s monster linked to the desecration of a sacred symbolism, forever pursued by the angry, lustful village mob because of it.

The difference is, the mad doctor’s wretched creation came to understand the primary lesson of the persecuted and hunted: to survive means lurking in the dark and retreating to the recesses of black, hidden corners.

The Juice was never going to figure it out. Instead, he still chooses to cavort in the glare of that spotlight, the heat of which is now a cutting, dicing, burning laser beam.

To most Black folk for whom the art of stealth is but one of many essential survival skills we’ve had to master, O.J.’s has become a death wish, a suicidal dance. We look at the Juice and his particular brand of insanity askance, and we are compelled to ask:

“What in the hell is wrong with O.J.?”

For those of you who care anymore, the Juice was arraigned and arrested late last year on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas after he and a gaggle of gun wielding thugs allegedly burst into the hotel room of a memorabilia dealer to reclaim what O.J. said were personal items that were stolen from him –including, perversely, the suit he wore on the day he was acquitted of his wife’s murder.

Last week, Simpson, in one more unbelievable demonstration of arrogance and narcissism, had his bail revoked for attempting to coerce one of his co-defendants.

13 years ago, the Juice walked on the charge of the century after being acquitted of the brutal murder of his wife Nicole. Then, a couple of years ago, he miraculously managed to wiggle out of an Ecstasy possession charge in Florida, of all places.

After more reasonable doubt than most people get in a thousand lifetimes, you’d think the man would have learned to live quietly and humbly and be satisfied with a his untouchable $30,000 a month pension and numerous investments — but no.

Orenthal James Simpson (no relation, thank you) has never lived in the real world. Michael Eric Dyson once said of O.J. that the ex-baller’s infamous Bronco chase down an L.A. freeway wasn’t the first time he’d tried to use a white vehicle to escape a Black reality.

O.J. smiled and buck danced and ran through airports on cue and relished his role as America’s favorite acceptable Negro, believing that if he could just build a high enough wall of whiteness around himself nobody would notice and he could safely bulwark himself against the radioactive effects of his own Blackness.

And perhaps, had he stayed in his special place as Uncle Ben Redux, he could have remained, if not invisible, at least translucent. But the Juice wasn’t satisfied with being the hump of the hour, and his wasn’t just a charge of murder.

O.J. was ultimately convicted in the court of public opinion of multiple counts of iconoclasty: he’d pissed all over two of America’s most iconic institutions — the sanctity of white womanhood and the myth of the infallibility of the justice system –transgressions that no amount of wealth, fame, privilege, honorary club membership or an acquittal could ever trump.

All but erased from the lexicon of football legend, his disconnect is complete. He is a pariah, and the circle is made all the more bizarre by the video clip of the man who once disavowed any connection to the Black community furiously storming through a Vegas hotel lobby at the head of his all-onyx posse to go jack somebody.

I used to feel for a childhood hero who had become such a hunted — and, perhaps, haunted — creature. Not anymore. I don’t know if O.J. killed his wife or not (an L.A. jury said he didn’t), but the myth of his transcendence spilled out over that ritzy Southern California patio deck just as surely as did the blood of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and he just doesn’t see it — and that makes him a blind, oblivious fool.

What in the hell is wrong with O.J.? I don’t know, but there comes a point in everyone’s lives where they finally have to recognize, where survival means flying low, keeping your big ass mouth shut and avoiding the light of inordinate scrutiny.

This fool hasn’t figured it out, but I have a feeling that this time the jig is up and that the Juice is going to have a lot of time in the hole with some of the other brothers who also missed the lesson to contemplate it all.