Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

O.J. and the Need for Validation

Posted by flyingbk on 09/19/2016

It was no surprise when The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story swept the Emmys last night, including its capturing of the best limited series award. I would also give it a slight nod over Fargo, a show that I absolutely love. The O.J. show was that good, and Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown, and Sarah Paulson were all very deserving. I’d have to think that the episode submitted for Paulson’s consideration is the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” one, which may be the best hour of television I watched all of last year. And I could watch Vance depict Johnnie Cochran all day long.

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2016 was unquestionably the year of revisiting the O.J. Simpson saga. Not only was there this fantastic FX TV series, there was Ezra Edelman’s documentary series O.J.: Made in America. When this series first debuted, I binge watched all seven hours in a span of two days. It was that engrossing, mesmerizing, informative. (If you haven’t seen it, at least watch the opening segment of the opening episode. I guarantee that your spine will feel all tingly. It’s an unforgettable moment that Edelman displays.)

This documentary series was the first time I saw clips of Simpson on the football field. Dude was ridiculous, the perfect mix of power and speed. No wonder he was the first player ever to rush for 2,000 yards. In the final game of that 1973 regular season, after Simpson reached the mark, he made sure to celebrate with his entire offensive line. The line was dubbed the “Electric Company” because they, of course, turned on The Juice. (That’s definitely one of the best sports nicknames of all-time).

In retrospect, that celebration displays the best and the worst of O.J. By many accounts, he was the most charismatic guy. He was the proverbial guy who, with his smile and demeanor, lit up every room he entered. When you watch interviews with him in the 1970’s, or see him featured on NBC’s NFL pregame show, or naturally, go down the rabbit hole of Hertz commercials on Youtube, O.J. comes across as instantly likable.

 

But the FX series and Edelman’s documentary both aptly portray that O.J. Simpson possessed a fatal flaw. It’s flaw that many of us struggle with: The need to be liked. Finding validation in people’s opinions of you. And at its worst, it can lead to codependency. It’s easy to revisit the footage of Simpson praising the Electric Company and see a man whose motive is not to give credit to where it’s due; rather, it’s to ensure that he remains liked by his teammates. It’s easier to understand why Simpson became an enraged, paranoid, jealous man toward his ex-wife to the point that he kept tabs on her and verbally ripped into her when he saw her with another man. It makes perfect sense when you see Simpson completely letting himself go and partying as much as humanly possible after the verdict of not guilty. Especially since many of his friends left him because they knew he was not innocent.

At the same time I watched the Edelman documentary, I also enjoyed David Simon’s miniseries Show Me a Hero. And I was struck by how the main characters of both shows desperately sought validation. Certainly that’s the human condition. But more on that next time, and I’ll look at how we can escape the trappings of our God-given (yes, He made us this way) need for validation.

 

 

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4 Responses to “O.J. and the Need for Validation”

  1. […] been under the weather this week. So I’m pushing Part 2 of the series that started on Monday to this coming Monday. I’m very excited to write this post, and I look forward to having you […]

  2. […] is part 2 of a series I began last week. Part 3, the finale, shall be […]

  3. […] is the final part of a 3-part series. Here’s Part 1, and Part […]

  4. […] for athletes to live “normal lives” after reaching the mountaintop in his career (cue what happened with O.J. Simpson). The five life lessons in this post are very helpful, and very applicable to our own lives. Sadly, […]

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