Let me start off by saying that, personally, I think Bill Cosby did it.
I’m not sure if he raped all of the women, but who is? Given the amount of time it has been, it’s tough to prove in the court of law, but it’s clear he’s lost in the court of public opinion. Given the odds, Cosby raped at least one of those women, and that’s downright unforgivable.
It’s hard to not believe these allegations when you look at the fully grown Cosby kids referring to their former TV dad and friend as Mr. Cosby. It reads more deferentially in a distinctly S&M way rather than well-mannered. Plus, his less-than-PC dictation on how African-American young people should behave has the markers of a control freak who thinks consent is theoretical. All that being said, what the hell does this have to do with Phylicia Rashad?
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Not only isRashad regal, poised, elegant and beautiful, but she’s nearly an entire generation’s fantasy TV mom. She’s devoted her entire life to be a paragon of virtue. Plus, the main point of what she said is true. Regardless of what you think about Bill Cosby, the legacy of what he did defined television.
Before “The Cosby Show,” it was easy to pander to stereotypes in portrayals of people of color. Sure, now, it’s painful or creepy to watch him boop-boop-dadooping as bumbling Cliff Huxtable. But before “The Cosby Show,” a family series with a cast comprised of all African-Americans whose two parents both had advanced degrees and professions, that didn’t pander to was unheard of. Let alone one that pulled in those ratings. This in no way gives him a free pass, but we shouldn’t scorch the Earth just yet. After all,Rashad and all her TV kids still need some of those checks. Poor Rudy, aka Keisha Knight Pulliam, for example, had to star on “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is more degrading than porn.
It also seems like schadenfreude is driving this bus rather than healthy righteous indignation. Roman Polanski drugged, raped and sodomized a young girl, was actually brought up on criminal charges, fled the country, yet still manages huge box-office earnings and high-profile celebrity friends. R Kelly had a high-profile marriage with then-underage artist Aaliyah. Then he had an infamous sex tape, aka proof, of him having sex with then urinating on a teenage girl. Plus Woody Allen.
Where was the jihad then? Children can’t defend themselves; if we’re being honest, neither can unconscious women, but something just seems more wrong when it’s a child. It seems like there is excitement in the revelry of watching Cosby’s fall from grace. It’s not that we should ignore these allegations, but we should be a little sober of mind before we go too far too fast. After all, both Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson do have something to gain from the media frenzy. That’s not to say they’re lying, but we should still examine all of the facts.
Rashad channeled Clair Huxtable by suggesting that we all take a breath. She played a lawyer for years and was pretty pointed in acknowledging what she did and did not know as fact. She cannot possibly speak to the allegations because she was not there. But she is defending both her friend and his contributions to television. She is only trying to preserve what she and all of her co-stars invested their lives in trying to create.
“The Cosby Show” paved the way for African-Americans and people of all colors to be whoever they want to be on television. Regardless of how you feel about it politically or Cosby himself it did set a gold standard for equal representation on television. It shouldn’t be thrown out with the bath water as part of the Cosby Crucifixion World Tour. You can’t blame Rashad for trying to defend her good friend after all these years, especially since he won’t defend himself.
Everyone is welcome to hate Bill Cosby all they want. But they should not attack his former friends and colleagues for taking the time to try and preserve some part of the good he did do. It’s easy, and even justified, to be livid, but we shouldn’t let anger blind us from being diplomatic and hearing all the facts.
Besides, who’s next, Raven-Symoné? Attacking people willy-nilly wouldn’t be so Raven now would it?
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.