Thursday nights mean one thing, dollar tacos at the Mexican restaurant, but back in the 80s, it was The Cosby Show. That show was my favorite back in the day, I wanted to be Theo and have a Gordon Gartrell. It was the only show that had an all-black cast that portrayed an upper-middle-class family, the show brought NBC back to prominence, it was the number one show on television. It was the Cosby show, not Seinfeld that started Must See TV on Thursday nights. The show was a juggernaut. They lived in a cool ass house, and all of their father’s friends were jazz legends.
Now that Cosby will be serving at least three years for sexual assault I have a lot of emotions. For me, it’s hard because I did like his show and most of his standup. In his elder years, he became your rigid granddad talking down to the families that come from poverty. He did, however, give money to HBCUs and seemed to care about the plight we face in America. He may have been insensitive but I thought his heart was in the right place. We are all complex but I will never excuse what he did.
So here are my thoughts, Cosby should be recognized for everything he did, the good and bad. I don’t think his awards should be taken from him. He earned them and taking them away seems silly. Yes, he’s a sexual predator. He’s also a great standup comedian that helped change how white America viewed the black family and that’s important. Celebrity makes us believe we know who they are when in reality we’re seeing just their talent. The reason Cosby being convicted is so unsettling is because we have decades of good times with him. He was on our television sets since the 60s. I imagine it feels like a friend of yours is getting jailed. It breaks your heart but there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to believe it.
The Art from the Artist
There have been other celebrities that have done horrible things. Will you stop watching the art that they provided or can you compartmentalize it? For me, it’s the latter. I hate what he did but at the end of the day, everyone is flawed, not to that extent, but flawed none the less. I still watch Woody Allen and Roman Polanski movies. Some will never watch or support those directors and understand that. To be honest for me if I’m a big fan of someone’s work it will be harder for me to totally stop enjoying their work. For example, if the Coen brothers had a “me too” moment it’ll be hard for me to stop watching their films but if it’s Michael Bay, I might join in on a few marches. Yes, I’m a hypocrite.
You can’t talk about film history without mentioning The Birth of a Nation. To this day we use a lot of what D.W. Griffith used in that film. Despite being a racist movie it is hailed as one of the most important films in history. My father used to say even Hitler loved his dog, I don’t even know if he had a dog but you get the point.
It’s the Black Thing
Some people will point to other white celebrities that have done something heinous and say they’re only doing this because he’s black or my favorite because he tried to buy NBC “they” (Illuminati or White Folks) didn’t want to see a black man become that powerful. People have to look at the power dynamic at play, Cosby was a huge mega-star in the 80s for an actress to accuse him of rape back then would be career suicide. We know Hollywood will turn a blind eye to anyone that’s making them money. Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, and host of lesser-known powerful men in Hollywood have been doing this for decades. We can’t defend everyone just because they’re black. Cosby deserves jail time, he’s actually getting off easy in the grand scheme of things this behavior went on for decades. You can’t blame the victim for what the attacker did. Don’t let Cosby be the guy you rock wit. Enjoy Fat Albert and the Cosby Show and if you’re a die hard fan the Cosby Mysteries, but you don’t have to make him a martyr.
To those that think racism is the reason Cosby is imprisoned, there’s always R. Kelly.