Thursday, November 20, 2014

3 Reasons Why Bill Cosby’s Downfall Hurts

That's a wrap, friend.

After decades in the public eye and reaching icon status, 77-year-old Bill Cosby is being erased from popular culture for possibly being a sexual predator.  Some are asking what took so long, given that rape allegations from more than a dozen women have been around since Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Cosby in 2004 for sexual assault.  Thanks to comedian Hannibal Buress calling Cosby a rapist in a stand-up bit that went viral (because rape allegations are only taken seriously when a man co-signs them), questions about the rape allegations were revived, and Cosby’s downfall is now just about complete. Others are asking, “Why now?” even going so far as to suggest illuminati-level conspiracies are at work to “take down” Cosby.

Here’s what we know: Bill Cosby has never been charged with a crime, has settled lawsuits brought by his alleged victims and has never addressed the allegations. However, none of that has stopped Netflix, NBC and TV Land from abandoning his shows, pulling his reruns and giving other entities ample reason to keep their distance.

Bill Cosby, up until recently, was considered America’s “dad” and when dad effs up, it sad and shocking for so many reasons. For example, you realize that: 
Bill Cosby really isn’t Cliff Huxtable

The Cosby Show changed the game by showing African-Americans as something other than the tired stereotypes people were used to seeing on their TV screens. Also, given that the Huxtables were loosely based on Cosby’s own family (Theo, in particular, was based on Cosby’s only son, Ennis, who was murdered in 1997), it was hard to separate Cliff the character from Bill Cosby the man.  The humor, the sweaters, the music…who didn’t want Cliff Huxtable as their dad, uncle, grandpa or third cousin? But, that’s why they call it acting, and even though we knew intellectually that Cliff was a character, many of us put that minor detail aside and got comfy on the couch on Thursdays to see “dad” do his thing. Even dads can have a dark side.

When a lot of people who don’t know each other say the same thing …something in the milk ain’t clean

I try not to take much at face value, so when allegations seemingly come out of nowhere about someone whose record is “clean,” the side-eye is automatic with me.  Everybody has skeletons, some obviously more sinister than others. However, when it comes to serious allegations like sexual assault, and once the number of accusers starts to grow, you start to wonder:  could this person, that I don’t know from a can of paint, but who I like, admire, etc., based on a carefully crafted image really be what he or she is accused of? Unfortunately, the answer is sometimes a resounding “Yes.”

Take for example former NFL player Darren Sharper. Who? He played for the Saints and Vikings, is ridiculously handsome and used to date Gabrielle Union back in the day. He’s also in jail, accused of drugging and raping multiple women, just like Bill Cosby. A single accusation is one thing, but when you’ve got multiple women in different parts of the country saying the same thing...bruh, you did it. Go directly to jail. Shouldn’t we be saying the same thing about Cosby? See, that’s where it gets tricky because when it comes to dads or father figures, even fictional ones, the thought that they could be the opposite of what we believe to be true is unfathomable, even when the number of accusations and their consistency say the opposite.

Actions have consequences, even for the innocent

At this point in time, the women at the center of the Cosby controversy have been and will continue to go through it. Not only are they Cosby’s alleged victims, they’ve also been victimized for decades by powerful people who buried their stories each time they tried to speak their truth and a public that refused to believe them. They’re also being accused of engaging in some sort of sinister plot to ruin Cosby. Rape victims either don’t report or wait to report sexual assaults for various reasons, so stop with all the shaming. Rape culture is real, and it’s terrible.

Lisa Bonet be knowin'
What’s also terrible is that people that had nothing to do with Bill Cosby’s alleged crimes will be judged, scrutinized and punished just for being in his orbit. The cast of the Cosby Show will lose residual income because of the TV Land decision to pull the reruns. People will judge and criticize Camille Cosby for staying with Bill Cosby despite the accusations and known womanizing.  Supporters who tried to ignore the allegations will be put on the spot about their relationship with Cosby and whether it will change. Many people will no longer be able to watch Cosby Show reruns (wherever they can find them) and their positive depictions of Black love and family without feeling “icky,” while others will struggle to separate Cosby’s situation from his sitcom. 

I mean, how can you talk about the greatness and beauty of The Cosby Show without thinking about the ugliness of the rape allegations? As such, the legacy of The Cosby Show and its unique place in pop culture will be either greatly diminished or destroyed because of all this. Basically, everyone will suffer because “dad” wasn’t who we thought he was.

Well, this is what happens when we put people on pedestals and put fingers in our ears when someone tries to tell us something we don’t want to hear. How about we stop doing this so that we won’t be so shocked and hurt the next time this happens? And best believe, this will happen again.

Stay random,