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PRINT November 1995

AMERICAN MYTHS

a New Contract with America

BY THE TIME A JURY of his peers declared O.J. Simpson not guilty last month, his long-running “first”(?) trial had cost California taxpayers upwards of $8.3 million while generating programming so astonishingly popular it supported several cable channels for most of 1995. The afternoon soaps, meanwhile, lost more than a million households since the beginning of the trial.

Talk about your state-subsidized art. More than a trial-of-the-century event or a sociosemiotic sign fest, the O.J . show was a cultural dynamo—spinning off all manner of new stars, celebs, and entrepreneurs, not to mention a host of best-sellers, T-shirts, softcore porn films, bumper stickers, and Routledge anthologies. What’s astonishing, given the trial’s Hollywood location, is that cash-strapped California never attempted to privatize the event—particularly in consideration of its potential sequels, and Menendez II,

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