This whole Bill Cosby situation scares me.
In case you need a recap, it’s been publicly acknowledged in the past year that dozens of women are accusing revered and respected comedian and actor Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them.
Accuser after accuser has come forward telling a similar story - some with varying degrees of credibility, in my opinion, but all are being (rightfully) taken very seriously.
It’s become quite the discussion point for people, especially in light of the idea that a man with money, power, and respect would abuse it so severely in secrecy.
The scary part, though, is not the facts of this case.
Those with money and power abuse it all the time. From the beginning of recorded history, those who have the power make the rules. It’s a temptation that is hard to resist.
That doesn’t mean you ignore that fact, of course. But I just am not shocked in that sense.
I also can confidently stand before you and say I have no idea if Bill Cosby is guilty or not. The lineup of accusers is certainly damning, but there is enough in this case that doesn’t add up in my mind.
I don’t really have a stance at this point. If he’s guilty, he should be held accountable, absolutely. I won’t stand up and say he is or isn’t right now.
So those things don’t scare me. What scares me is the reaction from the media and the general public.
People are mad about it, and I totally get that part. If it winds up being true, I’ll be mad too.
But I’m sitting back and watching people accuse Cosby of “ruining my childhood”. Virtually every television network has pulled The Cosby Show - one of the most classic and wonderful sitcoms in television history - from syndication.
The conversations revolving around Cosby at get-togethers lately have started with “So can you bring yourself to watch The Cosby Show ever again?”
It's a dumb question
Look, America is Ground Zero for hero worship. I always felt I was above that, but I’m no exception. Cosby, in a lot of ways, was a hero of mine.
I had him on a pedestal from some of the public work he’s done. I have no problem admitting that.
But I didn’t have him on a pedestal because of the personal details of his life that I knew. I held him to a high standard of respect because of the following four things:
- He is incredibly funny. I’ve seen his standup live twice and they were an absolute riot.
- His TV show was a classic. It’s one of the finest sitcoms in history, and it holds up to this day.
- His material has always been very family-friendly. He never resorted to a cheap or crude joke.
- He did a lot of good charity work. There are lots of stories of his generosity over the years.
These are all great things to admire about a man, but as we do in America, we used these things as reasons to hold him up as “America’s Dad”.
But, um, look over that list. Do any of those things qualify someone to be a “Dad”, even figuratively?
They are very good things, but they are all public acts. They’re big things. Good parenting comes from the little things, as we all know.
The private, personal details
Before his scandal really took off, I read his excellent biography.
In it, there is some mention of the many affairs that he had, despite being married for decades.
It took some of the shine off the persona. To me, it told me to pull back a little on the hero worship, as he personally wasn’t that great.
Despite the general reaction of outrage, nothing’s really changed for me - and probably not for anybody.
Go watch Bill Cosby:Himself. It’s still the gold standard of standup comedy.
Turn on an episode of The Cosby Show. You’ll still smile and laugh.
If guilty, Bill Cosby deserves punishment, yes. Although I’d argue that, at 78 years old, he’s already gotten away with it.
But at the heart of this, I never followed Bill Cosby for his personal attributes. I followed him because he was funny. That hasn’t changed.
I love the character of Cliff Huxtable, because that’s what I know. I don’t know Bill Cosby at all, and I never have.
And herein lies what scares me: the general public is showing an inability to separate Cliff Huxtable and Bill Cosby.
I’m an adult, and I am able to discern the difference between the two.
But so many people are crushed because they thought that Bill Cosby was Cliff Huxtable. But he only played him on TV.
We, as a nation, seem incapable or unwilling to understand the concept of a public persona versus knowing someone personally.
This Bill Cosby scandal shines a light on that.
I urge you, for the sake of our nation, to understand the difference.
Sure, you follow somebody on Instagram. They might be cool on Twitter.
People like Kim Kardashian because she seems cool on social media, and her life seems glamorous. But nobody knows what she’s like behind closed doors. She could be a wonderful human being, but she could also be the worst.
Dwayne Johnson is cool, well-dressed, and hilarious on social media, so people like him. He could be one of the most respectful and lovable people in recorded history on a personal level. He also could be a cocky jerk who will step on anyone to advance his career and protect that persona.
I’m not saying Kim Kardashian and Dwayne Johnson are or aren’t bad or good. I’m saying I don’t know them, and neither do you.
You don’t have a personal relationship with them. They could be absolute scumbags.
Everyone has sordid details in their lives. Some have just been jerks. Others are murderers, rapists, and whatever else.
Let’s just stop with this. Let’s pull back. Stop worshiping celebrities.
They’re not famous because they are good people. They are famous because they are good at something.
Respect that difference. I shudder to think what will happen to our nation if we don’t.