Our Little Car Chase Is All Grown Up: Five Observations About O.J. Simpson Chase Turning 20
Where were you during the great LA White Bronco chase?
The beginning of the Age of Twitter is generally believed to have begun sometime around mid-2009. Yes, some early adopters have been on Twitter longer than that, but as an accoutrement to our sports watching and as our first feed for breaking news, 2009 seems to feel about right.
So for anything that's occurred prior to 2009, we often hear the question "What event that took place before the advent of social media would've 'broken Twitter'?"
(NOTE: I generally am not a huge fan of the phrases "broke the internet" or "broke Twitter," as they're a little overused. That said, what's funny about "breaking Twitter" is that certain events the last few years actually have broken Twitter. Twitter is still a little shaky.)
Your answer to that question is usually a reflection of the age during which you were in your halcyon years, which for most guys is the 18 thru 28 age range. ("Halcyon years" being defined as the time in your life where you had the best overall stress-to-income-to-fun three way ratio working.)
People in their 70's will answer the Kennedy assassination, people in their 60's will answer man walking on the moon, people in their 50's may answer John Lennon's murder, and people in their 30's would probably say the 9/11 attacks.
For my "halcyon year grouping," dudes in their 40's, the answer seems to oftentimes be "the O.J. chase." For me and a lot of my friends that was the first "Remember where you were?" moment of our adult lives.
Well, the years certainly go by fast.
One moment you're huddled around a portable television in an office with a bunch of sloppy coworkers. Next thing you know, two decades, a few mortgages, a few kids, and a divorce later, you look up and your little car chase is all grown up!
Happy birthday, O.J. Simpson white Ford Bronco chase! You turn 20 today!
Now, if you're looking to waste some serious time today, here is the embedded video of NBC's Dateline special they ran on the chase last week. Go ahead and watch it. I have several thoughts below on the chase, the trial, and the hair that we see in this 90 minutes of footage. (And actually, as long as you lived through the trial, the thoughts below are relevant. You don't have to watch the video, but it helps.)
5. Where were you during the chase?
Everybody I know from my age group remembers where they were when the Bronco chase was going on (and when the "not guilty" verdict was announced, tipping point number two in the 16 month saga). My story will sound like name dropping
and it totally is name dropping, but it's not really -- I was at a post-rehearsal dinner party for Liz Holtz's wedding. Liz is the daughter of the legendary former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, and a very good friend of mine, to this day. Anyway, the party was at a bar the family had rented out, and I had a keen interest in the chase and an even keener interest in Game 5 of the NBA Finals (Rockets -180, for those wondering), so I stood next to the TV for much of the night. When the screen (movie screen TV, with one of those blue-green-red tube projection TV's, for the record....1994, yo!) split into O.J. and the game, I heard a distinctive voice next to me lamenting the "fall from grace" of one Orenthal James Simpson. It was Lou Holtz! I was watching the O.J. chase with Lou Holtz, which mattered in 1994 because Simpson was the sideline reporter for many of the Notre Dame telecasts on NBC, including the Game of the Century the season before between Notre Dame and Florida State. Needless to say, I always win the "Where were you when..." game at parties when the Simpson chase comes up.
4. How bad was Christopher Darden's decision to make O.J. try on the gloves? Horrific, even worse now than it was 20 years ago. This was worse than the Raiders drafting JaMarcus Russell. This was like the Raiders drafting Nipsey Russell. Seriously, "the people" would have been better off with Isiah Thomas as their attorney than Darden. By the way, everything having to do with this trial is magnified tenfold 20 years later, right? The decision to make O.J. try on the gloves? Ten times dumber. The ludicrousness of the verdict? A hundred times dumber. Johnny Cochran's rhyming in court? A thousand times dumber. The hair? My God, the hair. A million times dumber....
...and coming in at number one, for the 20th straight year (my Casey Kasem homage, R.I.P. Casey).... 1. KATO KAELIN!
2. Is there a more racially polarizing event whose primary reaction footage didn't involve actual physical violence between people of different races (at least that they show in this special) than the announcement of the verdict? No, and go ahead and add that to the list of things that are more jarring now than they were at the time -- people in places of business literally reacting like they were rooting for a sports team, black people cheering like their team just won the title, and white people reacting like Johnny Cochran just hit a Hail Mary three at the buzzer on them.
1. How long would the O.J. trial have been if it were an early 2000's episode of CSI or Law and Order? About three minutes, tops. Long enough for everyone to laugh at Simpson's defense team as they calculated the gallons of blood spilled and spattered by the two victims and Simpson himself at the crime scene.
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