I feel like someone being interviewed on the local news after a neighbor is arrested for a particularly violent crime: "I just don't get it. He was a good neighbor who made us all laugh. I can't believe this is the same person."
Bill Cosby's work (and his local roots) made him feel known, trusted. His alleged deviant behavior in which over 60 women - 60!! - accused him of drugging them and subsequently either assaulting, harassing, or abusing them, brings one word to mind - power.
Power is used to get whatever results the person wielding it wants. Cosby's power was on trial this month and it proved successful in the result of a judge declaring a mistrial after jurors could not come to a consensus about his innocence or guilt of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
I believe the power within his popularity and mega success kept the other 59 women silent for so long that they ran out of time to charge him with a crime. Let's face it - who the heck is going to go after Cliff Huxtable's twisted alter ego?
Cosby's 1965 television show, "I Spy," in which he co-starred with the late Robert Culp, was my introduction to the actor/comedian. The popular show is what spurred my folks to buy Cosby's album "I Started Out as a Child" in the mid-sixties. I listened to it often as a pre-teen and teen. It made me laugh even after hearing it over and over when every joke, turn of phrase, and funny voice became predictable. One line that stuck was his description of neighborhood friend Rudy, who could run so fast in his new sneakers that he could, "stop on a dime (pause) and give you nine cents change." It tore me up every time.
Now I am torn up with knowing the private side of Cosby. Understanding that he has not been proven guilty or innocent, it has been telling to read some comments offered by some of the 7 men and 5 women jurors. Questions about Ms. Constand's "waiting so long" to take him to court rings a familiar tone in re-victimizing the accuser. A male juror noted that Cosby's 2005 deposition in which he "openly admitted he gave the pills" to women. The juror continued, "he was very, very honest. He was believable. She (Ms. Constand) was not." http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/juror-says-politics-may-have-played-role-in-bill-cosby-trial/
Cosby's ludicrous, abusive behavior was believable, yet not convictible. That's some power.
And when it came to keeping the lines blurred between his adored Dr. Huxtable character and the real Bill Cosby, Cosby plucked his youngest television daughter, Keisha Knight Pulliam, now 38 years old, to escort him into court (as opposed to one of his real life daughters.) That is bald faced showmanship.
His use of another Cosby character - Fat Albert - and his signature greeting of "Hey! Hey! Hey!" as he entered the Norristown PA courtroom was as tasteless as the sweaters he wore on The Cosby Show. Yet supporters supped it up. It reassured something familiar instead of the real, abusive behavior on trial.
Why do we lionize people? No one is 100 percent good all the time - no one. Why do we allow ourselves to be bamboozled by what we want to believe instead of what we are shown to be true? Why do we hand over our power of discernment so we can feel more comfortable with what is being served up?
If someone would have told my 1986 self about the abusive Bill Cosby, I would have fought the notion as preposterous. This protective phenomenon could be called being "Huxtabled."
Even Cosby's efforts to call out young black men to hoist up their pants in his now famous 2004 speech at an NAACP event launched a newfound podium for him to decry the black community's failure to raise its children properly. Cosby spoke unapologetically for the next decade about black behavior. His remarks, now ironic, are painfully inauthentic. The adage "empty barrels make the most noise" comes to mind. Or in the case of the make believe Dr. Huxtable, the proverb "physician, heal thyself" is apropos.
In his NY Times article about the Cosby trial, author Wesley Morris concludes with sentiments that capture how I feel: "Mr. Cosby's courthouse behavior acknowledged an additional trial: the one going on in our hearts. I don't need a jury to know that this trial has worn mine out. For at least a half an hour, "The Cosby Show" kept at bay the tide of bad news from the outside world while never skimping on the glories and hassles of being alive. The show became an oasis we needed. But real trouble has intruded. And now the oasis is condemned." https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/18/arts/television/how-to-think-about-bill-cosby-and-the-cosby-show.html
The only power that matters is the one that informs us to always hold two things simultaneously: being skeptical while being impressed.