Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This 60-minute cable TV documentary places the sensational murder trial of ex-football star O.J. Simpson in context with American race relations of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Deliberately courting controversy, the filmmakers opine that, up until his arrest on suspicion of murder in 1994, Simpson was not perceived as an archetypal African-American by either the black or the white community; he was nothing more nor less than a fabulously handsome and immensely talented sports celebrity. Once Simpson was placed on trial, however, the race card was played (or, rather, overplayed) on both ends of the color spectrum: Black activists labeled Simpson a "spokesman" for his race and regarded the trial as "payback" for the thousands of African-Americans who have been unfairly treated by the country's judicial system, while white observers now perceived the formerly idolized Simpson as merely another "bad black man." Among those interviewed in O.J.: A Study in Black and White are black athlete-turned-actor Jim Brown, advertising executive Jerry Burgdoerfer, and sports sociologist Dr. Mary Jo Kane.