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O.J.’s If I Did It: An invitation, but to what?

You would think that as a society we would be weary of the OJ syndrome, but alas it seems we are not–or at least the media has not had its fill. The book isn’t even out yet and the media hours are racking up with its nonstop commentary. Worse, the bulk of it is a rehash of the crime and the court case. I guess that’s to be expected. How many times have we heard the case declared “the crime of the century?”

But this latest book. Now that brings up a new issue. After hearing publisher Judith Regan’s statement on why she entered into this surreal landscape, I found myself at the keyboard tapping out another article, O.J.’s If I Did It: It’s Not About the Book, It’s Not About You, Judith:

If I Did It, the new O.J. Simpson book that is roaring over the publishing landscape like a tsunami and leaving as much devastation in its wake, is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to even begin to separate them; but frankly the real issue has nothing to do with publisher Judith Regan or even that of Simpson writing a book about the slayings. What is weird, perverse, and pretty much evil is that Simpson is being given a public forum to fantasize, relive the details of a crime in his mind, and then invite us all to share in the “dream.” I mean, how perverse and voyeuristic have we become?

Blood money transactions abound in our culture. Publishers show dismal taste in their choice of many books. Readers open their minds to baser and baser information. That’s a given in our culture today. But this, this is different. There is something wrong, something twisted, something unreal about this whole issue and the ensuing conversation. For whatever reason there are, apparently, those who believe that somehow Simpson’s creative “confession” would be a boon for society.

The announcement took on epic proportions early, long before Judith Regan entered the fray. Now, what already screamed bizarre became, if possible, even more odd. How can Reagan even imagine that Simpson’s folly will have some kind of cleansing effect on anyone, let alone her? And what does it say about her own pathology when she has apparently so intricately threaded her personal psychology into the fabric of this drama?

Whatever Regan’s reasons are for publishing the book, she is not the issue. Whatever ethics might be called into question regarding the supposed three million dollar deal, that is not the main problem. Whatever motivations are ascribed to O.J. for his latest headline-grabbing antics, they are barely worth the time and energy invested in their generation. The fact that there is an automatic assumption that we, the readers, will not only want to know but will willingly become accomplices in O.J.’s public fantasy projections is something that society may need to examine carefully.

If Simpson is innocent, how does this benefit us? If Simpson is trying to make a rather perverse “confession,” what is our role in all of this? If Simpson committed these crimes, what are we allowing him to do to us?

11/21/06 Update: As many will undoubtedly know, the book and the interview have been canceled. Now, how many books and snippets of footage will make it onto the black market. All eyes turn to eBay.


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