Once again Hollywood has provided us with another example of men behaving badly. This time it’s someone we all were stunned by, except of course by those in the know. Many things set this scandal apart from the others one of which is it involves one of America’s favorite dads, who not only on screen espoused morality and family life, but off screen as well.
This is an important fact because it is embedded in our collective memory buried deep in our psyche. Even back in the good ‘ol days when I grew up with rampant racism, everyone still loved Bill Cosby from the get go. I can’t remember anyone of any color who had a bad thing to say about him back in the ’70’s or ’80’s. We all laughed at his safe, funny jokes and retelling of hilarious family situations we could connect to in our own lives.
Then he placed himself on an even higher pedestal we put him on by taking to task the young rappers of the day, chastising their choice of words and subjects in their rhymes. Many rappers called him out of touch with reality of the young black male experience, He tried to show another way, that the immorality of the words and actions of these suddenly wealthy young hip hop artists were only going to lead to a destruction of black culture and ultimately themselves.
There was wisdom in his words. Like a father lecturing his children imparting knowledge in hopes of us learning a lesson without having to experience pain of our mistakes. TV interviews cemented his opinions and his war on what he saw was ignorance and set backs of youth. Many took the high ground with him and loved him even more for it.
When his only son was killed we grieved and cried with him and rightly so. Through the pain we admired him for his strength and courage and his unfailing commitment to his wife Camille and his family. It’s no wonder we loved him.
There are two sides to every coin and even more so with celebrities, who by necessity in order to sell themselves, have to have a very public persona of either their own or a publicists making. The outward image is just as important as the product of their art. It’s a delicate recipe that is destined to eventually fail if you are hiding something and Cosby was.
The allegations against him now are decades olds, or at least the ones we know about after these brave women finally had the courage to come forth. When I say finally, I hear a loud groan from the masses who believe that a woman after 50 yrs of living with this pain of rape from a very famous and powerful man, is only after money.
Let’s get real here. Decades have gone by and they have moved forward in their lives. If this were truly about money then the time would have been back then before the statutes of limitations ran out. If this were just hurt him then the time would have been back when the idea of a black man having sex with a white woman was very frowned upon, and racial hatred was even more a norm than it is today.
It’s about the truth. One thing that hasn’t changed in decades is still blaming the victim. It’s her fault she was raped. She must have wanted it. We forget that the birth of women’s equality was just beginning. Our mothers fighting valiantly to be taken seriously as one half of the human race that too had rights. To be more than a wife, mother and a whore in bed. Where women who did work outside the home were subjected to gropey bosses. Sexual harassment wasn’t even in our vernacular and women were supposed to just put up with it and be flattered even if it made you feel uncomfortable and unsafe. He could make or break your career and because he was so powerful who would believe you anyway? So you kept silent.
The women who are coming forward against Cosby now do so at personal risk of ridicule and threats to expose the man for what he is, a hypocrite and a rapist with the hidden morals of a pervert.
Why should any women who has been abused or raped come forward and endure the long ago memory and pain talk now? Why not just leave it in the past? The simple answer is for a catharsis in their own lives. To be finally free of something that tormented them all these years while they watched their attacker continue to reap the rewards of celebrity and adoration knowing there is a monster underneath the façade. To claim their life back from someone who’s one immoral action took it away.
The pedestal is high. The fall is hard, not just for him, but for all of us who believed in him.