Ford is bringing back the Bronco – an iconic name almost as synonymous with Ford as the Mustang. It almost brought back something else.
Memories of O.J.
The white ’93 Bronco driven – slowly – along California’s highways, the ex-leaper of airport turnstyles and suspected double-murderer behind the wheel, with a fleet of California Highway Patrol cars behind him, is perhaps the most iconic slow-motion car chase in American history.
As weird as that was, even weirder is that Ford almost launched the new Bronco on O.J.’s birthday, July 9. News story here.
I would love to!
Apparently, someone checked. The reveal has been moved to July 13. “We wanted to be respectful of this concern,” said Ford Communications Chief Mark Truby.
But one wonders whether Ford may have missed a marketing opportunity. Much has changed since the 1994 murders of O.J.’s ex-wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Or maybe they just began.
A new America was born on that day. One that lined the streets holding signs and cheering “the juice,” as O.J. was sometimes called. Whether O.J. actually did kill his ex-wife and her friend is almost beside the point. The public’s verdict was that O.J. should go free as a proxy fuck you to the system, widely regarded even then as systemically corrupt and abusive.
And here we are, almost 25 years later. Has anything changed – for the better? Are the state’s mercs any less vicious? Or are they better armed – and protected – by the same system that was hated so much by so many all those years ago?
The question hardly requires typing out an answer.
So maybe Ford should have launched the new Bronco on O.J.’s birthday – and gone all-in with an O.J. Edition Bronco. All white exterior, with red trim embellishments. Perhaps even signed by “the juice” himself. A special duffle bag included, too.
One can argue that such a thing is a metric of societal sickness, then as now. Two people were, after all, horribly murdered – whether by O.J. or some other person (various theories, some not incredible, have been put forward, including that it was perhaps O.J.’s son who did the deed).
But those two people were stick figure casualties – nothing personal – of a much wider crime. Just as O.J. himself isn’t the main character in this sorrowful play. This slow-motion train wreck, which has been happening for much longer than two hours or almost 25 years, even.
One can trace it back all the way to 1861 – the year of the second American secession movement, which failed. And perhaps even farther, all the way back to 1787, which was the year the first American secession movement – successful on the battlefield, unlike the second one – was O.J.’d by a backroom shady deal that replaced the leave-you-alone Articles of Confederation with the we-own-you Constitution.
The ownership being made abundantly clear shortly thereafter via the era’s equivalent of the CHP chasing down rural Pennsylvania farmers who objected to being mulcted by the newly constituted federales. The Whiskey “rebellion” – as it was and has been styled – was put down with the usual violence, an 18th century Hut! Hut! Hutting!
It got worse from there.
Despite their being a First Amendment – part of 10 Amendments (read, afterthoughts; sops, really, to the unhappy Jeffersonians who felt – rightly – that they’d been had by the Federalists) that plainly stated a right to speak freely, speech contrary to the likings of the Federalists and their new leader soon became “seditious,” under the “act” of that name.
And then – somehow – via something called Marbury v. Madison – we swapped out the tyranny of elected men for the tyranny of lifetime appointed ones. Who appointed themselves the arbiters of what the Constitution’s powers are. Which is to say, their power over us.
And so things proceeded.
There was a belated awakening that finally came to blows – in 1861. But things had been allowed to slide for much too long. The power aggregated by the system had already become insuperable. The South was made to “howl” by Sherman – a writ-large version of the thug who recently stood on George Floyd’s neck, both actions performed for the same fundamental reason, which is to make us howl.
Block by block and bit by bit, the edifice grew, the chains weighed heavier. And with it, the burning – an excellent word, penned by a Soviet who understood what Americans felt and still feel, perhaps even more so – toward the system and its minions.
It all poured forth in ’94. Deranged and cruel, certainly – but also understandable. There is a quote – attributed to British Air Marshall Sir Arthur Harris, who – when asked whether he felt bad about deliberately fire-bombing German cities, responded with: “Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.”
O.J. is incidental.
What ought to trouble us – because of what it portends – is that a 2021 O.J. Edition Bronco would probably sell better than a black-and-gold Trans-Am signed by Burt Reynolds.
. . .
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