On Friday, 17 June 1994, Shakespeare became a voice-over for a moment of American cultural history. Reporting that a suicidal O. J. Simpson lay in the back of his Ford Bronco holding a gun to his head, CBS television anchor Dan Rather glossed the flickering image of the vehicle, parked before Simpson’s Brentwood home, by saying that he was reminded of Othello, in which a black man, suspecting his white wife of adultery, kills her and then himself. As though shopping for a good story, Rather had mined the literary archive to imagine an ending which, by courting the obsessive fictions that attach to Othello’s colour, could mask the culture’s racism in Shakespearean suicide and its attendant admission of guilt. What was later dubbed ‘The Night of the White Bronco’ did not of course replicate Othello’s ending, but in the days immediately following Simpson’s arrest, charged with the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, further evidence (in this instance, as in the play, a media-ted term) connecting these events to the critical, theatrical and cultural legacy of Shakespeare’s play proliferated.
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