1995: The year the future began
In the run-up to today’s 25th anniversary of the vicious fatal stabbing of his ex-wife, O.J. Simpson declared: “Life is fine.” It was the latest crass and gratuitous remark by the one-time football star who in 1995 beat a double-murder rap at what was called the “trial of the century.”
Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald L. Goldman, were slashed to death June 12, 1994, outside her townhouse in the upscale Brentwood section of Los Angeles, crimes for which O.J. Simpson was arrested and stood trial.
After a courtroom spectacle in Los Angeles that went on for months, Simpson was acquitted October 3, 1995, by a jury that had deliberated fewer than three hours. Americans by the millions stopped what they were doing that day to follow the reading of the verdicts over television and radio.
Shortly thereafter, Simpson said in a statement read by his eldest son that he would “pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole and Mr. Goldman. They are out there somewhere. Whatever it takes to identify them and bring them in, I will provide somehow.”
That was, as I wrote in my book, 1995: The Year the Future Began, an empty, gratuitous, and narcissistic vow — an egregious statement that Simpson surely had no intention of honoring. Most Americans believe Simpson was the killer and, in 1997, he was found responsible at a civil trial for the grisly slayings of Nicole Simpson and Goldman.
He was ordered to pay a judgment of $33.5 million, a penalty he has almost entirely evaded.
Simpson’s “life is fine” comment was made the other day in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, in which he also said:
“My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives.”
Simpson, who was released in 2017 after spending nine years in prison on kidnapping and armed robbery charges unrelated to the 1994 slayings, lives in Las Vegas. He is 71-years-old and, the Associated Press said, has become “among the most sought-after figures in town for selfies with those who encounter him at restaurants or athletic events he attends occasionally.”
“Life is fine” may have been an off-hand comment, but it evokes Simpson’s narcissism, signals a lack of even faint remorse, and suggests an enduring disdain for accountability. It was a pithy but egregious comment, and it casually insulted the memory of his former wife, whom he battered during their marriage.
“Life is fine” also may have been aimed at Goldman’s sister, Kim, who, with her father, has been a nemesis for Simpson since 1995.
They pressed the wrongful-death case that ended in the multimillion dollar judgment against Simpson. They have pursued the judgment, not for the money but to hold Simpson accountable, she said in a lengthy article in today’s Los Angeles Times.
Holding Simpson accountable also prompted Kim Goldman to launch a podcast series revisiting the case which, in 1995, was decribed as “a Bayeux tapestry of contemporary American culture.” Goldman calls her podcast series “Confronting O.J. Simpson” and in the introductory installment, she reads from a letter she wrote to Simpson.
“I am sure it is really weird to be getting a letter from me,” it says, “but for years I have listened to what everybody else has to say about you — the lawyers, the media, but never from you. I’m wondering if you would sit down and talk to me. I just want to understand whatever can be understood.”
She says in the podcast, “I was declined this interview, but I still feel that need” to speak with Simpson, to whom she typically refers as “the killer.”
“I want to confront the fear, the grief, the anger, the loss, the shame,” she said. “I want to ask questions that have never been answered. Not only of O.J. Simpson but of everyone involved.”
And, she says, “I want to remember and honor my brother, Ron, by talking to the people who knew him before he was just a name in a headline.”
Two installments in the series were posted today.
More from The 1995 Blog:
Pingback: The 1995 Blog turns five: A look back at five top posts | The 1995 Blog
Pingback: The enduring 1990s: Vivid context for contemporary life | The 1995 Blog
Pingback: The false equivalence of Trump and O.J. trials | The 1995 Blog
Pingback: ‘Too tight’: The botched glove demonstration at O.J. ‘Trial of the Century’ in 1995 | The 1995 Blog
Pingback: Quote of the 1990s? ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,’ 25 years on | The 1995 Blog