Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bill Cosby - We Hardly Knew Thee: The Tragedies of Bill Cosby

The blind, octogenarian Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday on three counts of sexual assault, thus bringing to an end the trailblazing career of William Henry Cosby, Jr. America now witnesses the unfolding of several tragedies. The first, and greatest, is the personal tragedy of each of the victims, of whom 62 have stepped forward. The sexual assaults and attempted assaults on scores of women spanned four decades from 1965 to 2008. The victims were violated first by Bill Cosby, and then ignored by society. Hollywood knew of his peccadillos, but nothing was done until a black comedian, Hannibal Buress, mentioned it in a standup routine at a Philadelphia club on October 16, 2014. Hamilton Buress was upset by the condescending attitude of Bill Cosby. He said: “Bill Cosby has the … smuggest old black man persona that I hate. He gets on TV: ‘Pull your pants up, black people, I was on TV in the late 80’s! I can talk to you because I had a successful sitcom. Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So turn the crazy down a couple notches. I don’t curse on stage. But yeah, you’re a rapist.” A video went viral and the rest is history. Women again came forward with complaints about Bill Cosby. A jury failed to reached a verdict a year ago, resulting in a mistrial. This time five other victims were allowed to testify. This time they were listened to. Ironically the African American star of standup comedy was outed by an African American comedian in Bill Cosby’s hometown of Philadelphia. Hamilton Buress in 2014 and the election of President Trump in November 2016 opened the doors to #MeToo. The election of Hillary Clinton would have delayed the unleashing of the sexual harassment charges against scores of predators. To have done so would have involved pursuing the record of the new First Husband. Just like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and hundreds of other infamous perpetrators, nothing was done until recently to being the predators and perpetrators to account. Justice, rather through criminal or civil judgments, can never fully restore their dignity and personhood, nor right the wrongs. Earlier prosecutions in all these cases could have prevented many future sexual assaults. So too is the tragic fall of a trailblazing African American entertainer We see today a broken down man convicted of being a sexual predator. We do not see the trailblazing African American who broke through racial barriers. Bill Cosby rose to fame as a standup comedian, providing inspiration to comedians who followed. His rift on Driving in San Francisco is a classic. He quickly recorded record albums. Bill Cosby was rising fast. Two of his many TV shows helped change America’s atttitudes on race. He co-starred with Robert Culp from 1965-1968 in the highly successful TV show I Spy. Bill Cosby was the first African American actor to star in a TV series, paving the path for all who followed. Bill Cosby as Doctor Huxtable in the Bill Cosby Show from 1984-1992 portrayed an African American family as an ordinary American family. It led the ratings for years and was the cornerstone for decades of NBC’s Must See Thursday Night. The show featured many African American actors and actresses. His commercials, such as for Jello, were very popular. Bill Cosby during the height of his popularity even spoke truth to power in the black community. He declaimed the emphasis on sports, fashion, and “acting hard” rather than education, self-respect, and self-improvement. He also spoke out against racism. He reaped scores of honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kennedy Center Honors, the Mark Twain award for American Comedy, a number of EMMY’s, and numbers of honorary degrees, many of which have since been rescinded. His reruns and residuals today are in the dumpster along with reruns of Amos and Andy. How the Mighty Have Fallen! The Greeks were right. Sometimes the gods build you up and then bring you down

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