Comedy is a very interesting realm of entertainment. As we know, being funny is subjective, and despite natural talent, success is never guaranteed. Stand-Up and Sitcoms are two huge parts of comedy. Both are hard to master and few have ever been able to conquer the two. Bill Cosby is one of the few comedians who was able to find success on the stage and the living room with his stand up act and hit sitcom in the 80s. The Cosby Show is not only one of the best, but also one of the most culturally impactful sitcoms ever. Forever shifting the perception of the black family to mainstream audiences and showing the world black people were more than criminals, rappers and athletes. The tight-knit family led by a doctor husband, and lawyer wife dealt with real issues, while constantly bringing humor. When I was younger I would watch the show before school as if the episodes were brand new. Whats even more interesting is that this isn’t a rare anecdote, as millions of people were brought into the Cosby household through its almost unprecedented syndication. The show is only one of three (American Idol & All In The Family) to be the highest rated for five consecutive seasons. At its peak the show was watched in 30 million homes and Bill is credited as single-handily reviving NBC, who was struggling before it’s debut. Shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin and In Living Color were able to exist because of the success of the series. When Cosby is called “America’s Dad” that isn’t an exaggeration at all.
When comedian, Hannibal Buress, joked about Cosby’s long history of rape allegations, it seemed to wake up a forgotten part of our collective consciousness. Cosby has never been convicted of rape, but the allegations are there. In the past several weeks numerous women have come out telling their story about Cosby and his attempted rape, groping, and drugging. Allegations go all the way back to the 70s and the list of womens seem to get longer and longer. Linda Joy Traitz claims Cosby groped and attempted to drug her in 1969, Louisa Moritz says he forced himself on her while in a NBC dressing room, and former super model Janice Dickenson claims he date raped her after his show in Lake Tahoe. In 2004 Andrea Constand was allegedly drugged in Cosby’s home. She later woke up with her bra undone and her clothes scattered. Constand claims she had 13 other women with similar stories ready to testify. What’s interesting about this incident is that Cosby settled a civil suit with the women for a unspecified amount of money. These are only some of the 16 accusations made against the comedian.
Its hard to believe there isn’t some truth to these stories as there are simply to many to ignore. He has refused to discuss the topic during recent interviews, which only make matters worse. Despite these allegations being out there for years we’ve collectively chosen to sweep it under the rug. America has an interesting way of dealing with rape. Picking and choosing when to act and when to ignore. There is a long history of false rape accusations with black men and white women, but overall false rape claims are relatively sparse. In the last few weeks Cosby’s legacy has become almost unrepairable. Netflix recently announced his special would no longer premiere the day after Thanksgiving as expected. Cosby and NBC were developing a new series that has been completely cancelled. Even TVLand has stopped airing reruns of The Cosby Show. With all this news he still received a standing ovation at a recent show in Florida.
Bill Cosby will still go down in history as one of the greatest comedians and sitcom stars of all-time, but his squeaky clean image is lost forever. These allegations with likely follow him to his grave and his legacy now has a massive blemish at the end of it. Whether or not he committed these acts remain to be seen, as he has never been formally convicted of any crime. Hopefully all the women who have allegedly been victimized found the moral support they needed, especially with the lack of help legally. We will probably never know for certain if any of this is concretely true or false, but I beleive it is a bit of both. Cosby was well aware of his power during the height of his popularity and he probably used it to his advantage. He probably promised these girls fame, offered them pills and didn’t stop after these women said no. Unfortunately, its our choice to separate the work from the man. We each have that decision to make.