Girth Radio Presents…
“The first eight years of schooling was with all white people. So that helped me to understand how white people think. I think that transition is what helped me bridge the gap, because that’s what my success has really been about: bridging the gap between the black community and the white community.”
Will Smith said that. Will being one of the few black men to transcend race (for the most part). He’s beloved by a wide range of audiences as a movie star yet is still savvy to retain his street credibility. Bridging that difficult gap between a black community and a white community has paid off real well for Will Smith. So-so with Obama who is a black president and is reminded of that fact daily. More so with Michael Jordan. Jordan completely eclipsed race; his astonishing on court displays couldn’t be denied (even Knicks fans under their breath will mutter a couple of nice things about MJ).
That’s what sports does…it bridges that gap between the black community and the white community. A classic example is Larry Bird (and Boston and the Celtics) and Magic (and LA and the Lakers). Another is O.J. Simpson.
The latest 30 for 30 is a 7 hour documentary that covers race, sports, America through the lens of O.J.
Right up to the whole “trail of the century” and the witty fool in the Naked Gun movies:
I contend we don’t have the right to be surprised or even shocked when these individuals we celebrate turn out to be less than all we desired.
This is not cynicism rather a recognition that we all commit ugly actions in the darkness. It’s a thin and ugly morality that attempts to rank horrendous sins. Is speeding on the same level of murder? It doesn’t matter that’s not the right question to ask. We are not in any position to judge lives; only the work. (And I get the endorphin kick shaming others producers…that’s why the Twitter kangaroo court exists; though it’s one of our ugliest public activities).
We give these individuals like O.J. incredible lives…they don’t have to perish in the suburbs like we do. They still get the same dash we get between a birth date and a death date yet we celebrate their work; their contribution. We just saw this with Prince and before that Bowie. That’s why we can only judge the work…the work is what we’re left with.
And yet…who he has become…who O.J. is now it’s difficult to align that with the O.J. we witnessed on the field. That’s what makes this documentary so compelling…it’s attempt and an invitation to slowly work through that process not to arrive at a single definitive conclusion (because their is none; O.J. is a person and still evolving). Rather it’s a commentary on us, on our values and how we live out those values. We forget that O.J. didn’t just change…so did we.
Good News: none of the dates conflict with the NBA Finals.
Part 1: Saturday, June 11th, ABC, 9 PM
Part 2: Tuesday, June 14th, ESPN, 9 PM
Part 3: Wednesday, June 15th, ESPN, 9 PM
Part 4: Friday, June 17th, ESPN, 9 PM (The fourth part also airs on the 22nd anniversary of the Bronco chase! Yeah I know…22 years…we are all old)
Part 5: Saturday, June 18th, ESPN, 9 PM
Sammy’s Status: In! 30 for 30s don’t let me down…