Cosby has faced rape allegations periodically since 2005. Sparked by an act last month in comedian Hannibal Buress’ stand-up routine, Cosby is again the focus of negative national media attention—this time with much more certainly.
This past Tuesday, Nov. 18, Cosby was accused by model Janice Dickinson. To date, six women have publicly accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault. Factoring in those who have maintained anonymity, he has 15 accusers, many of whom said Cosby drugged them.
In recent weeks, Cosby has had no rebuttal but silence. There is an important takeaway from the disturbing new crop of Cosby hoopla that provides commentary on our culture. We are too willing to worship anyone that is distinguished in representing the greater goods we believe in.
A longtime advocate of equal rights that stressed the importance of family, Cosby was a figure revered by parents. He was zany and likeable enough for their children to admire him, too.
A resident of Shelburne Falls, Cosby has long-been an important figure in the Western Mass. Community.
I remember sitting in the backseat of my Uncle Mike’s car with my cousin Adam as a six or seven-year-old. We would ask him to replay Cosby’s Chocolate Cake for Breakfast skit on cassette over and over, laughing throughout.
Growing up in the 1990’s, The Cosby Show and Kids Say the Darndest Things were oddly entertaining, enough to be thrown into my television consumption palette of cartoons and sports. Anything with violence or swearing was more exciting, but still I kept Cosby’s programs in rotation.
There was something remarkably endearing about him, and that is what remains most troublesome about his fall from esteem.
A man I thought intended to be a self-driven symbol of moral consciousness for children and adults alike is likely a serial rapist.
Even when I was old enough to be more interested in the profane internet than old Bill Cosby’s familial anecdotes, it was apparent that my generation had found him to be charismatic even if for strict comedic purposes.
By my time in middle school, there was the crude “Bill Cosby fun game”, a basic internet flash game in which a cave-dwelling Bill Cosby lures people to him with Jell-O pudding, only to strike them with a Kodak camera. Players of the game had to extend Cosby’s murderous rage to gain the reward of escaping life in the Cosby Cave with the help of the Olsen twins on an electric scooter.
There was also the “Bill Cosby Gangsta Rap,” a poorly-edited animated video impersonation of Cosby rapping over the beat to Dr. Dre’s 2001 hip-hop anthem “What’s The Difference.” In the video, Cosby is nonsensical, rapping about everything from Pokemon, to Coca-Cola, to bicycles.
Utterly ridiculous, yes—but to my sixth grade buddies and I these animated spoofs were hilarious. The sad truth is, at the time, it seemed only kids and teenagers had a handle on satirizing Cosby. Only they thought of him as a bit of a phony even if they had little basis for suggesting it.
Other comedians made jabs at him too, but the general public still idolized him. He was still a humanitarian, a promoter of moral justice. He seemingly stood for the moral perspicacity every parent wanted to bring into their own home and into their own family.
Now any out-of-control, animated caricature of Cosby is less harsh than his real-life counterpart: a man with a long history of sexual abuse that was never taken seriously because of his social stature. A man once joked as a computer game serial murderer by 12-year-olds has likely committed serious serial crimes after all, and it is no “Bill Cosby fun game.”
An allegation or two can be written off as inconclusive. This is not because sexual assault accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously. They should;however, criminal accusations against celebrities can be entirely fabricated (the infamous Kobe Bryant case, for example).
In Cosby’s situation, no trial or sentence is needed to know the truth. 15 accusers are too many reasonsfor anyone to proclaim Cosby’s innocence. As a culture, we are adamant in protecting our role models, but often it turns out they aren’t who we thought they were.
Perhaps my favorite Cosby quote is as follows: “Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.”
You were right, Bill. Our eyes were open the whole time, but we weren’t seeing the truth.