American Crime Story Episode 4 – Starstruck [Spoilers]

The striking thing about this episode of American Crime Story is how characters viewers have come to know continue to develop. How O.J. Simpson, the man, is presented in this series is a testament to his effect on the world around him. Everything and everyone revolves around Simpson, but he gets so little screen time. Cuba Gooding Jr. makes his moments on screen count. Audiences want more, and the celebrity legend goes beyond the universe in the series. It’s a strange spectatorship process.

This episode heavily features Marcia Clark, and rightly so. Clark is the driving force behind the prosecution and their ability to battle Simpson’s resources. One fantastic moment in this show, which is often forgotten in this media frenzy, is Ronald Goldman. Goldman’s family has a private moment with Clark. It’s a fantastic scene, and exemplifies how she repeatedly gets emotionally invested in this case. First, it was Clark as a woman speaking up for Nicole as an abuse victim. Now it’s Clark speaking up for the Goldman family losing a son. Both crimes either get overshadowed by Simpson’s fame, or forgotten altogether.

Sarah Paulson gets a serious chance to show her talent here. Paulson’s character illustrates inherent sexism professional women battled. I bet the female demographic watching American Crime Story still feel these problems today.

The scene with the perspective juror’s focus group analyzing Clark in court scream internalized sexism. The detail that hammers the nail in the coffin is when a middle aged white woman describes Clark as, ‘a bitch.’ Clark is dismissed, labeled as overbearing and bitchy because she’s aggressive – because she’s good at her job. But the truth is if Marcia Clark was a man people would praise her as fierce, intelligent, and powerful. The reaction to the focus group’s negative response to Clark is met with classic condescending male advice. Clark is told what to wear, to act more submissive, and everything short of downright discrediting her. Would Clark have to deal with all this absurdity if it were any other case? Probably not.

The celebrity effect pushes continuous ramifications on the case. One huge moment is when Faye Resnick publishes a book on Nicole Brown. Once again the Dream Team holds unnecessary press conferences, and the prosecution scramble to keep up. In an interview with Larry King Resnick says, “Women need to break the chain of violence.” Resnick’s false grief and concern for abuse survivors actually translates into more internalized sexism. This incredible quote puts the onus on women to get out of their situations, but also glosses over the fact Nicole did divorce her abuser. The woman still got murdered. Clark knows better, and continues to push.

Jess Morton
Jess Morton
Jess is a film theory geek who spends too much time watching Netflix. As a never-ending side project Jess writes feature articles on web series. She lives with her cat Aira in Toronto.