The most publicized trial in American history, The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson, has resurfaced back into the media. If you haven’t been watching Fox’s American Crime Story “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” you need to start.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson,” episode 6, entitled ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,’ importantly highlights the unspoken sexism surrounding the trial and the media publicity of lead prosecutor, Marcia Clark.
What Marcia Clark endured during that trial was ugly and disgusting. Last week’s episode starts off with a TV host speaking about Marcia Clark’s hair and courtroom attire claiming, “looks aren’t everything, they’re the only thing!” A statement that should make any aspiring, young, female, professional cringe.
Unfortunately, it is undeniable her appearance played a huge role as a prosecutor. She was advised to talk softer, wear pastels, and smile more. In Episode 6, Marcia Clark attends a hair salon and asks for a “softer” style. She leaves the salon feeling confident and happy with her cut. Shortly after, she is bullied and laughed at by opposing counsel and the presiding judge, all males.
In a recent interview, Marcia Clark stated she simply had that particular hairstyle because it was easy to manage while juggling the “trial of the century,” a divorce, and two young children at home … seemingly innocent circumstances used as weapons against her. In fact, Marcia Clark, juggling a career and parenthood, was persecuted by opposing counsel for asking to leave a hearing early to pick up her children. Then she was publicly accused for using her children as “pawns” during the “trial of the century.”
To top it off, one of Marcia Clark’s estranged ex-husbands leaked an intimate nude photo of her to a major tabloid. Immediately after seeing the news, Marcia Clark must attend a hearing while holding back tears of humiliation. By the end of the episode, you wonder who is on trial and forget who the murder victims were.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson” is a great television series, not only for its entertainment, acting, and depiction of historical fiction, but for its illustration of ~some~ of America’s systematic weaknesses during the 90s: racism, domestic violence, and sexism. Moreover, it’s a reminder of ~some~ of America’s systematic weaknesses during 2016: racism, domestic violence, and sexism. Déjà vu.