by Emily Duren
I don’t remember a time before Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman’s murders. At two-years-old, I was too young to know what was happening as it played out on newsstands and TV screens across America, but I would grow up as one of the many people in awe of the flawed judicial system. Of how a single glove and a racially-divided country could get a cold-blooded killer out of a life sentence.
I don’t really think this case needs a summary, but in case you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about: On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson, the wife of former NFL player O.J. Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, a waiter, were found murdered on the walkway outside her Brentwood, California home. They had both been brutally and mercilessly stabbed. Nicole was nearly decapitated.
What catapulted this case to extreme infamy was the fact that Nicole’s super-famous ex-husband was super-famously indicted for the murders, because he was obviously guilty. He was then super-famously acquitted. Lord have mercy, it still makes me so angry to think about. But what makes me even angrier is the fact that whenever this case is mentioned, in any capacity, it’s always about O.J.
This phenomenon is all too common in murder cases: We get obsessed with the intricate inner workings of the killers’ demonic minds, and we ask no questions about the victims. The Zodiac Killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, the BTK Killer, the Green River Killer. We know their names, some academics devote their entire careers to studying them, but can we name a single victim? I can’t. I’m probably more interested in this stuff than the average person, but I can’t. It’s because the media feeds on what the public wants and they give it to us. In fact, really the only time we know anything about the victims is when we know nothing about the killers, as in the cases of JonBenet Ramsey, Natalee Holloway, or Elizabeth Short—The Black Dahlia.
Brown Simpson and Goldman were murdered (though I think the word slaughtered is more fitting), and I don’t think we realize how much weight that word actually carries. Let’s just pretend for a second that Simpson isn’t the murderer. Someone killed these two people. Ended their lives. Nicole’s children grew up without a mother. Both of their families and all of their friends had to endure the pain of losing them, and nobody will ever know what they may have contributed to society. That may seem melodramatic, but this goes for every single person who has ever been the victim of a homicide. These people carelessly murder and then become famous from the constant media attention and cult followings they gather, while their victims fade into the background.
The most publicized information about Ron and Nicole over the years has been:
1) Nicole was the ex-wife of Simpson.
2) Nicole and Goldman may or may not have been in a relationship—the circumstances surrounding their relationship have never been entirely clear, but it’s thought that Goldman and Nicole met sometime in April or May 1994 at Mezzaluna Trattoria, and became fast friends, frequenting dance clubs in Los Angeles together.
3) Goldman was a waiter, Simpson may have been abusive to Nicole—which is asinine, there’s evidence in the form of 911 calls and witness testimony, that he used to beat her.
4) Nicole was good friends with Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner and future Playboy cover model, Faye Resnick.
That’s it. That’s nothing. If you’ll notice, that still centers more on the celebrities Nicole knew, than on Nicole and Ron.
Ron Goldman worked a string of odd jobs in Los Angeles, from model to tennis instructor. Physical fitness was extremely important to him, he was a contestant on a gameshow, and he had recently gotten his EMT license. But his true passion was the restaurant business, and his dream was to one day open a bar or restaurant of his own. In the meantime, he’d continue working at Mezzaluna Trattoria, the restaurant that would be the starting point in his demise.
Nicole Brown Simpson was born in Frankfurt, Germany. In high school, she was the homecoming queen. Later on, she worked as a waitress at a nightclub in Beverly Hills, where she’d meet O.J. Simpson. Oh, the irony. She was a proud, involved mother when it came to her two children, Justin and Sydney Simpson; she never wanted them to have nannies. She loved hosting parties. She had an interior decorating business.
Before I did the intense research required for this article, I had never heard any of those things about either Ron or Nicole, and that made me feel really terrible. Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown were people. At one point in time they did live and breath and walk this earth with the rest of us. What the media told us then wasn’t a lot. What the media is doing now is basically sandblasting, and by all appearances, it’s absolutely awful…
The last straw for me has really been American Crime Story, the new show that recently came out about this case. I have been watching it, and I have been riveted—the acting is wonderful, and it feels more like a documentary than a reenactment. However, I’ve also been incredibly angry. Like everything else, it focuses on Simpson and his “Dream Team” of attorneys—Robert Kardashian, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, and Alan Dershowitz. It even shows more of the Kardashian children, who had absolutely nothing to do with the trial, than of Ron and Nicole.
Now, you may be thinking, But Emily, everyone knows about this case. These people are just doing their jobs by retelling what happened, why does that make you so angry? Because they’re doing so in a way that will bait the audience and make them keep watching, not in a way that does justice to Ron and Nicole. At some parts, the absolutely pathetic way they portray O.J. (like when he’s in his cell alone or surrendering himself at Rockingham), he’s almost sympathetic. And thinking that makes me hate myself.
Last night I was watching episode four, the jury selection episode, and there’s a scene with Faye Resnick’s character, played by Connie Britton, in a room with two men, planning out the tell-all book she’s going to write about Nicole. At the first mention of Nicole I was really excited because I thought Finally! Maybe Nicole and Ron aren’t going to get lost in the shuffle like I thought. Well, I was in for a shock. If you watched, you know that Resnick starts spouting off some speech that at first seems sentimental, “Nicole was a wonderful person. She was a terrific mother. We need to stress that. We had wonderful times together…” I was so captivated, literally on the edge of my seat, ready to send an e-mail to the Minaret editors to tell them I had changed my point-of-view and would have to come up with another subject for the Op-ed this week, when Britton kept going. “We’d go clubbing and go to parties, and, you know, Starbucks. Sometimes a little cocaine. We loved to eat at La Scala…There’s no good time to find out that your best friend has been murdered, but particularly not three days into cocaine treatment. Did you know that Nicole had breast implants? It was O.J.’s idea, but I’ll be honest with you, she loved them. What else can I tell you about Nicole? She loved to give a ’Brentwood Hello.’ It was a little joke we had. She would go into a man’s bedroom while he was asleep and go down on him.”
Are you kidding me? There’s also a part about lesbian sex that the defense attorneys briefly touch on in a different scene, but this particular scene seriously pissed me off. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, for two reasons. The first is because whether or not it’s all false, and I’m not saying it is, I’m not a psychic nor a judge, this information was ALL actually in Resnick’s book, and she had NO right to put such intimate details of Nicole’s life, even if they were true, in the tell-all, when she wasn’t around to defend herself. The second is that… seriously?! These are the details you choose to put in? A Brentwood hello? It was so distasteful towards Nicole, and it painted her in an ungracious light in the eyes of the audience. Honestly, had I not recently read all the good things I had about her, I’d probably have thought, Wow, she kind of seems like a slut. Which is what they wanted. I know that’s really how it went down in the room with Resnick and her ghostwriters, or whoever the hell they were. I also know that her book was somewhat relevant to the episode because there’s speculation that it maybe, possibly, could have had a hand in tainting the jury pool, had Judge Lance Ito not gotten a handle on it when he did. So, in my opinion, the jury pool and the tell-all had nothing to do with each other, and I have no idea why it was necessary to include that last night. All it did was paint Nicole in a worse light in the eyes of people who knew little to nothing about her to begin with.
However, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised when it came to how Ron was portrayed in this week’s episode. Prosecutor Marcia Clark’s character, played by American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson, has a sit down with Fred Goldman, Ron’s father, where he screams at her out of grief, and we find out some details of Ron’s life, like the fact that he used to volunteer with disabled children, never did drugs, or drank. So, I guess there is a silver lining to everything and that would have to be it.
However, I still stand firm in my belief that from day one, this was the O.J. show, and I hope that one day Ron and Nicole, and all other murder victims will no longer be overshadowed by their killers.