The Media Commercialization of O.J. Simpson Trial
The famous and much commercialized trial case of O.J. Simpson was a clear illustration of the commercial culture of the Americans. O.J. Simpson, before his murder trial, was a popular entertainment figure and celebrity. He was a celebrated athlete, a film star and famous commercial endorser.
The O.J. Simpson trial case made many media people rich. It indeed became one of the most saleable stories of all time wherein television networks, tabloids, books and magazines reaped a huge amount of money. CNN alone increased fifty percent of their revenues by running the story of Simpson. Commercial experts had confessed to Advertising Age reporters that “Simpson- related marketing can produce as much as $1 billion in media and merchandising sales”( Dines & Humez 178). It is no wonder then how much the media pursued the case of Simpson, leaving no stones unturned for any possible angle of the story to make it more interesting. But the main interest had been “sales” from beginning to the end of the trial. Simpson’s story increased TV ratings while books, tabloids and magazines attracted potential buyers. But then the question is this: why does Simpson’s case generate a lot of money? And what does this reflect of the kind of society that would make such an amount possible?
Americans makes television a center of their lives. And their minds are conditioned to the shows that they watched. According to Dines and Humez, two of the main themes of US Television are on the “primacy of products as the center of social life and the simulation of appetites” (179). The status of Simpson before his trial played a key role to the people’s interest in his trials because he was a famous commercial figure, someone who fed (and conditioned their appetites) and naturally his identity is associated with products that they patronize or admired. He did commercials for Chevrolet, Will Sporting good, Royall Crown Cola, etc (Dines and Humez 180). Now Simpson, on his trial, because of his fame has become a product. The media just simply commercialized him.
Dines, Gail and Jean McMahon Humez . Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-reader. California, Sage, 2002.