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Remediating the 1990s with Ryan Murphy: Gender, race and (inter) generational cultural politics in The People Vs. OJ Simpson

Hamad, Hannah ORCID: 2022. Remediating the 1990s with Ryan Murphy: Gender, race and (inter) generational cultural politics in The People Vs. OJ Simpson. Weber, Brenda R. and Greven, David, eds. Ryan Murphy's Queer America, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 89-104. (10.4324/9781003170358-8)

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In the context of an extended, and to date ongoing, Anglophone media moment characterized by concern with and interest in the events, culture, politics and media of the 1990s, a cluster of noteworthy media texts has emerged, and continues to grow, that engages explicitly in practices and processes of re-historicization, re-contextualization and re-mediation of major flashpoint news media events and stories of that decade. None more so than the 2016 FX true crime anthology television series The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, which sits alongside cognate texts like the film I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2018) and the continuing podcast You’re Wrong About… (2018-present). With particular analytical and interrogative focus on the Ryan Murphy directed episodes ‘The Run of His Life’ (tx. 9 February 2016) depicting the infamous ‘Bronco chase’, and ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’ (tx. 8 March 2016) depicting the media circus that ensued from prosecutor Marcia Clark’s visit to a salon during the OJ Simpson murder trial, this chapter explores and unpacks the (inter)generational cultural politics of gender and race in The People Vs. OJ Simpson. It does so by viewing Murphy’s episodes through the lens of the queerness that manifestly inflects his remediation of the iconic events, moments and figures portrayed. The queer stamp left by Murphy on all his creative output is seen across these episodes in examples ranging from their core concern with the pitfalls of celebrity excess at the dawn of the hyper-intensification of tabloid culture, to the camp cheek that tonally underpins the teleological depiction of the proto-celebrity of the Kardashians, to the extreme queerness of Murphy’s rendering of Marcia Clark’s ostensible makeover scene. This chapter contextualizes such episodes in relation to Ryan Murphy’s manifest authorial concern with Gen-X identity politics, arguing for his status as a media producer whose work enables him to be understood as a queer feminist generational interlocutor between Generation-X and millennials. Murphy’s work, especially here, voices the concerns of Gen-X across a generational divide with millennials. And it does so in ways that render the identity politics that defined the lived experiences of the former in the 1990s legible to the latter, via manifest representational and discursive resonances with the anti-misogynist and anti-racist concerns of contemporary identity politics, most culturally visible via the prominence of movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 978-0367772291
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2022 14:45

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