I grew up as a kid in the 80s watching the Cosby show every week. Cliff Huxtable made us all laugh, and his deep voice with its specific cadence was very much hardwired into our childhood memories. He was a household father figure, a moral and ethical rock that broke down walls of perception of black families. Today I believe it is quite hard for the general public to disengage the Cliff Huxtable character portrayed on TV with the real life person that is Bill Cosby. This is a ubiquitous perception problem that exists within celebrity culture in general, actors achieve cult status and thereby power because of the almost seamless association of the actor and the “larger than life” character they play when they perform.
Bill Cosby, however, appears quite clearly to be guilty of using his power and status to entice aspiring actresses and models into one on one situations where he was able to drug them and then have sex with their unconscious bodies. Over 17 different women have stepped forward with strikingly similar stories of Cosby’s predatory behavior.
The evidence presented stacks up heavily against Cosby; An undisclosed settlement in 2006 with an accuser who was ready to go to trial with 13 Jane Does willing to give testimony against him, the strikingly similar accounting of these women (many of whom have achieved their own successful careers at this point in their life) who do not know each other, but do have authentic connections to Cosby in the past. And perhaps the most damaging, a revelation from a 90 year old former NBC staffer that acknowledged he was a fixer for Cosby, watching his green room door, and sending money (with receipts to back it up) in his name to women on Cosby’s rape list. And then there’s Cosby’s own reaction, silence, silence, and then a condescending freak out in an interview with AP. All reactions point to someone who is clearly hiding something.
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It is often the performers who exude the most charm and feel the need to preach to others, that they themselves have an opposite, extreme dark side that they need to compensate for. I can only speculate what the root cause driving Cosby’s darker sanctum is. Was it revenge for a childhood crush that rejected him? A sense of control that filled that void of love he lacked as a youth? I believe for Cosby it was more about an exaltation of his own power than the sex itself. Perhaps it was achieving success in a way that no black man previous to him had in his industry that gave him a throne to sit on. Because if it was just about the sex he could have simply said, “Well, if you really want this part on my show, I’ll need an extra favor…” or even hired prostitutes to fulfill a sexual addiction. But in virtually all the victims’ accounts, they were given pills or their drink was unknowingly drugged. They all tell stories of falling into an unconscious state and Cosby making sexual advances during that time. The stories stop there and return to when they wake up alone, disheveled, confused and violated. But let’s fill in the blanks a bit, Cosby drugs these girls, and as they are in a semi-conscious state, he gropes them and penetrates them. There is no reciprocation of affection, no eye to eye contact, no mutual lust… all factors that make sex an enjoyable experience. It is only Cosby, by himself, relishing in his own power and dominance that he can violate this young, pretty, unmoving, (and most often white) unconscious but warm body… and that by doing so he is king, he is better than others because he can and deserves to pleasure himself this way.
I do not hold it against these woman for coming out only now with their stories as the timing for their acceptance seems much more suitable now than when they occurred. They have little to gain by sharing their traumatic experiences other then releasing themselves of this tortuous memory and supporting others who have also suffered from Cosby’s abuse of power. Cosby’s lawyers insist these are all “unproved” allegations but the idea that there is some large conspiracy theory amongst all these women who are now looking for their “15 minutes of fame” is quite absurd.
The statute of limitations has expired for any charges to be made, and Cosby most likely will never go to jail. But his comeback is in tatters, all new and upcoming shows have been canceled. That ethical persona which he has worked all his life to build has now been shattered thanks to the power of social media. As much as it can have a negative impact, in this instance the internet played the role of empowering these women’s stories, to enable the truth to rise above Cosby’s well paid legal team, and bring a verdict delivered by a jury of the public: Bill Cosby is a serial rapist and a predator. The power he wielded so long and used against other humans has finally been taken away from him by the women whom he hurt the most… this is a fact I believe he is aware of. And he will live with this knowledge and loss of power until the day he dies, knowing that his legacy will now be perceived truthfully and that perhaps his greatest lesson to humanity is the reconfirmation that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thanks for the final lesson Dr. Huxtable!