Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Other Nations, Simpson Case Is Window on America

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Other Nations, Simpson Case Is Window on America

Article excerpt

As millions of Americans tune in to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, much of the world is tuning in to America.

From the beginning, the Simpson case has been a kind of two-way mirror. While Americans debate its legal and moral content, the world analyzes the United States' media, its legal system and its seeming penchant for self-examination.

To many abroad, this story is simply quintessential:

- A gruesome murder in Hollywood (from Europe, all of Los Angeles is Hollywood).

- An American hero's flight down a freeway with those all-American accouterments, a gun and a cellular telephone, broadcast live to a country transfixed.

- Court television.

- Then, guilt or innocence.

The drama is described abroad as American soap opera and Hollywood action movie. Last June, when fans lined freeways in Southern California to cheer on a man sought for murder and threatening suicide, it was viewed from afar as the the ultimate Hollywood blurring of life and docudrama.

"The fascinated nation is being presented a play that is half-Shakespeare, half-soap opera: Othello and Richard Kimble, garnished with a bit of Coppola's `Apocalypse Now,' " wrote the German weekly magazine Stern.

Nicole Marchand, a Belgian accountant, said, "I can't imagine it happening anywhere else in the world."

To audiences baffled by a country that prefers a tedious legal proceeding to the World Cup, foreign correspondents based in Washington and Los Angeles this summer have had to explain the American psyche and sociology.

Millions of Americans were on a first-initials basis with Simpson, they wrote. They felt as if he were a personal friend. They felt "as if a family member had been torn from their midst," Stern explained.

David Usborne of the Independent of London wrote, "No country in the world builds pedestals for its heroes, especially its sporting heroes, as high and as gilded as this one does. …

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