The View From 1776
Thursday, August 26, 2004
The following article was written by my friend, Dariel A. Colella. It was published earlier in The Advocate, Stamford, Connecticut?s daily newspaper.
It echoes the points made in the August 17, 2004 article, Who Are the Liberal-Socialists?. And in the article of August 07, 2004, The Economics of Liberal Values - Part Three: Consumption vs Savings.
Last year I read with disgust that O.J. Simpson was offered a reality television show which would chronicle his daily activities; and The Los Angeles Times reported that O.J. received several television offers to act as a commentator during the Robert Blake trial (can you imagine?). Ultimately, and lucky for us, O.J. passed on the offers. Perhaps he was not willing to take time away from tracking down the real killer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Unfortunately, the offers have kept coming and O.J. is now seriously considering another television reality show. The first question that comes to mind is why the television networks are willing to put O.J. Simpson on the air. Obviously it?s about the money, but the root of the problem is that we are willing to watch. What exactly does this say about the moral fabric of our nation?
Although O.J. was acquitted of the murder charge, he was found liable in a civil trial. Recent interviews with Fox News, Dateline NBC and the Today show confirm his on-going celebrity status. As Jack Dunphy wrote for National Review Online, ?That Mr. Simpson is today free to golf, sign autographs, and mug for tourists? snapshots without fear of being chased and pummeled by an angry mob is evidence of the decline in America?s moral health.? The airing of an O.J. Simpson reality show proves how low the bar has sunk when it comes to television programming. Should we continue to make heroes out of criminal celebrities and put them on the air just to make a buck? When will viewers decide that enough is enough? Don?t our children deserve better role models?
Let?s take a look at some of our contemporary Hollywood heroes: Roman Polanski receives critical acclaim and academy awards for his films while society ignores the fact that he raped a 13-year old girl and then fled the country; O.J. Simpson is accepted back into the fold because he escaped conviction by playing the race card; Robert Downey, Jr. is released from jail to film a movie; and is there any doubt that if Michael Jackson were not a celebrity he would be in an institution for the insane?
In a speech for The Heritage Foundation on culture, Midge Decter asks: ?How often have we seen our deepest beliefs being traduced as we open our morning papers or turn on our televisions or wander into a movie theater?? We have raised these celebrities to God-like status, accepting their values and paying them millions upon millions to lead us down a path of moral destruction. I can remember a time, not so long ago, when bad behavior was rejected by the general public and shame was a word that still had meaning.
Obviously, O.J. Simpson has no shame, but neither do the outlets that want to employ (exploit) him. According to MSNBC, Urban Television Network Corp., a satellite and cable channel, and Spiderboy International, a Miami production company, are planning to air 13 one-hour episodes of O.J. video from hip hop concerts attended by the former fugitive. According to the report, O.J. enjoyed the filming and said ?We were welcomed everywhere. But this was not meant to be shown anywhere except as rebuttal to those who say I?m a pariah.?
Although O.J. may be able to claim innocence by virtue of his acquittal, he must also contend with liability for the murders by a civil court. Notably, the civil trial involved a judge that ordered the parties not to discuss the case with the media and forbid television cameras. Thank goodness we still have a few judges who do not need their 15 minutes of fame.
In any event, it would be galling to see or hear O.J. Simpson commenting on the guilt or innocence of another actor/husband turned killer, like Scott Peterson. Although I?m sure Mr. Peterson would greatly appreciate O.J.?s expertise right about now. Perhaps Winona Ryder will offer to pick up a few things for O.J. to wear during his television debut.