Greg Cote

O.J. Simpson can tweet whatever he wishes, but how he’s seen is up to us, not him | Opinion

‘The Juice’ is loose on social media: O.J. Simpson joins Twitter

After serving nine years in prison, O.J. Simpson said he joined Twitter to clear his name.
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After serving nine years in prison, O.J. Simpson said he joined Twitter to clear his name.

With a cheery, “Hey Twitter world, this is yours truly,” O.J. Simpson joined social media over the weekend with a 22-second video that ended, “I got a little gettin’ even to do. So God bless. Take care!”

The idea of O.J. Simpson getting even is enough to make one shudder.

We thought getting even was what the disgraced former football star was doing in 1994 when charged with the stabbing deaths of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. He was acquitted despite apparently strong evidence that left half the country believing to this day that he got away with murder.

Getting even also seemed in play for O.J. when he orchestrated the armed robbery of two men in a Nevada hotel room to take back memorabilia he said had been stolen from him. For that he was convicted and served nine years, before being paroled not quite two years ago.

He had be living in Las Vegas since, under the radar, quietly, until now.

His reemergence — a.k.a. attempted image rehabilitation — began last week with an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. The headline: ‘25 years after murders, O.J. says ‘Life is fine’. It described a man (turning 72 in three weeks) who plays lots of golf, poses for lots of selfies and has moved on with his life. He would not discuss the double homicide for which he’ll be forever be linked, referring to not looking back as his “no negative zone.”

(Quick aside: The infamous white Ford Bronco police chase that for all the world made O.J. appear like a guilty man on the run took place exactly 25 years ago Monday).

On Friday Simpson joined Twitter, his new platform for a getting even he says will be setting the record straight on perceived inaccuracies. On the site @TheRealOJ32 he writes, “If you don’t see it here, I didn’t say it.”

He has gone from zero to 640,000 followers (as of midday Monday) in three-plus days.

One can only imagine the goal here. A lucrative speaking tour? Spot in the “Monday Night Football” booth? Book deal? Sitcom?

It isn’t just O.J. on the image rehab tour. It can be a crowded trail.

Sunday on Instagram, Bill Cosby wrote, “Hey hey hey ... it’s America Dad,” wishing Happy Father’s Day — almost as if he weren’t in prison doing hard time for sexual assault as myriad other similar accusations hang over his shamed head. America’s Dad? Cheating, alcoholic, deadbeat, absentee fathers now rank above Cosby for the title.

Over the weekend in Vegas, British boxer Tyson Fury won another bout, wearing Stars and Stripes into the ring and singing “American Pie “ afterward, continuing an orchestrated effort to win over the American audience. I would say that he wants us to forget all about his blatant homophobia and misogyny, except that for his bigotry — his anti-gay and women’s-place-is-in-the-kitchen rhetoric — he is astoundingly unrepentant.

O.J. Simpson
Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson reacts after learning he was granted parole from Lovelock (Nev.) Correctional Center on July 20, 2017. Simpson now lives in Las Vegas, quietly, until now, with his emergence on social media with a Twitter account. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool) Jason Bean AP

It was just last year that the move “I, Tonya” and an accompanying promotional tour sought to somehow make Tonya Harding seem like the victim in that 1994 goon attack that injured rival skater Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the Winter Olympics. Nope. Sorry, Tonya. No sale. Despicable is still despicable a quarter century later.

A reminder to all of the image-rehab folks including O.J.:

You may be in charge of your attempted makeover, but you are not in charge of whether or not we’re buying it.

O.J.’s image can be more complicated than some because it depends on your trust in the legal system. Whether you believe he got away with two murders or whether you accept the acquittal and say “he did his time” for the other thing.

The three videos he has tweeted thus far show him in his Vegas backyard, one poolside with American flags in the background. I’m surprised he isn’t wearing a Cardigan and holding a Bible. He looks more like America’s Dad than Cosby does, I’ll say that.

In the first video he says hello Twitter. In the second he says Happy Father’s Day. In the third he discredits rumors he slept with Kris Jenner and is Khloe Kardashian’s father. Now that’s more like it!! He’ll not be leaving his “no negative zone,” though. If what you’re expecting is, like, a confession, might as well unfollow now.

I would note that O.J.’s first tweeted video drew 11.2 million viewers (as of Monday), his second drew 6.1 million and the third 1.9 million. A definite trend that suggests only one thing:

O.J. Simpson can be just as banal and boring on social media as the rest of us.

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