Who Got the Juice? The O.J. Simpson Trial 20 Years Later debuts on BET tonight
BET's new documentary on the O,J. Simpson trial is curiously timed. It's pegged to the 20th anniversary of the verdict, but that date passed last weekend. However, Who Got the Juice? The O.J. Simpson Trial 20 Years Later is worth the weight for the cogent analysis it provides on the cultural impact of the case.
Michaela Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, Marc Lamont Hill, Rev. Al Sharpton, Star Jones and BET's Ed Gordon are among those interviewed in the documentary, many of them addressing the racial divide the trial exposed,
It was about not O.J. as much as the relationship that the African-American community has to the criminal justice system. We bound up in O.J. all of our feelings about being wrongly accused and wrongly convicted.
"I think the honesty that this doc was able to distill from the African-American perspective I think is what is going to make [the film] unique," director Sacha Jenkins said.
I interviewed Jenkins, as well as Gordon, Jones, KNBC reporter Beverly White and former USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham for a piece on NBCBLK exploring the documentary.
In the film, Davis recalls her internal conflict over Simpson and what his case signified in a larger sense. She acknowledged doubts about his innocence.
"One man's trial seemed to represent scores of others," she says in "Who Got the Juice?" "History molesting your natural feelings."
The documentary traces Simpson's origins in the tough Portrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Athletics were his ticket out.
"There was no hood in O.J. at all," Dyson comments in the documentary, echoing the feeling held by some African-Americans that Simpson turned his back on his roots and integrated a little too comfortably into spheres of white power and privilege. However, Dyson adds, after his arrest Simpson's "privileges were revoked. He got black all of a sudden."
If you see the documentary, or read the NBCBLK piece, let me know what you think...
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.