A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Crumbling Icon

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial here in Montgomery County has gone to the jury.  The aging comedian was probably caught by surprise that this trial has come this far.   He probably believed that he had put the incident behind him since he and the victim had come to a monetary settlement years ago. 

Somehow the local district attorney decided that justice was not fully served and charged Cosby with a criminal complaint.  I thought that there might be a question of double jeopardy, but apparently that concept did not apply here.

So much for my limited knowledge of the law.

Whatever the outcome, I hope everyone is satisfied with the jury’s final verdict this time.  I also hope that even if Cosby’s personal reputation is tarnished, that the good parts of his legacy will endure.  Yes, the messenger turned out to be a serial sexual predator, but the messages he conveyed over the years about getting an education should be salvageable. 
Here is where commentators will insert the “heroes with feet of clay” cliché. Cosby enjoyed a squeaky clean image through the years.  Now we find—and here’s another cliché—that this image was too good to be true.  We shouldn’t have been surprised by any the allegations lodged against Cosby in the last few years.

First, let me say this: I don’t want to believe that Bill Cosby is a rapist.   I can believe it because I know the darkest ideas and thoughts of any other man, but I don’t want to believe it.  There is a difference.

Second, I should reveal that I am familiar with all the emotions associated with sexual assault.  The first woman I ever dated had been raped mere weeks before we met.  I witnessed the hurt and anger she suffered in the aftermath of the attack.  I can empathize with Cosby’s accusers, many of whom came forward years after the incidents and years after criminal prosecution was possible and/or allowed.

Many people are questioning why his accusers came forward 40 and 50 years after the fact.  The reasons could be varied and complicated.   Many may have felt that their stories would not have been believed.  After all, Bill Cosby was allowing America to forget their problems for awhile as he recounted his stories of growing up in North Philadelphia.   And when he wasn’t doing that he was teaching young people how to read (PBS' The Electric Company) and moral values on the weekends (Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids).

Who would believe their stories?  Ironically, they are probably now experiencing the same result anyway.   Who can believe them about events that happened decades ago?  The greatest counter argument to this is the consistency among all of the women’s accounts.

In Cosby’s case, we should recall that before he created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, he had the image of a playboy. Yes, a playboy with a wife and family at home.  A successful comedian sporting a bushy mustache and smoking cigars, who guest hosted an innovative talk show in the late 60s called Playboy After Dark.   He shared hosting duties with Hugh Hefner (the show was set in Hef’s penthouse pad) more times than any other guest in the history of the show. 
A typical episode would feature interviews with celebrities of the day, music provided by the likes of Anthony Newley and Sammy Davis Jr. to the Ike Turner Revue (complete with Tina and the Ikettes) and Iron Butterfly.  And oh yes, of course, they were beautiful women everywhere.

The Playboy bunnies did not add much to the intellectual side of the proceedings.  They were hired to look sexy, laugh at guest’s jokes, or (in the case of guest Louis Nye), drape themselves casually over his shoulder.   If you’re reading this and smiling, then obviously you remember Nye’s nebbish persona.  Let’s put it this way: one could never imagine a beautiful woman anywhere near Louis Nye given the character he played wherever he appeared.

Don’t believe me?  Look up the episodes on YouTube and prepare to be enlightened or shocked.

But this was the acceptable form of humor back in those days:  the opposite sex portrayed as not totally a person, but an object.  We can now put a name on this era:  the Mad Man period of the 20th century.  It was an amalgamation, or perhaps more of a mash up, colliding the traditional values of men and women in society against the rise of feminism.  Couple this with Cosby suddenly thrust into the limelight of Hollywood with its infamous casting couch culture, and perhaps we can see how a man with otherwise honorable values could throw caution (and everything else for that matter) to the wind.

Of course we could probably include a possible narcissistic personality disorder in Cosby’s case.  Or could it be simply arrogance which would make him believe that he could get away with these attacks?  Regardless of his possession of personal psychoses, there can be no denial that the entertainment industry fed him the notion that he could no wrong.

And we, his fans in turn, fed the industry that fed the upright moral man who we now learn caved into mankind’s darkest and cruelest tendencies.

So why should we be so shocked at the stories?  Why should we feel disappointment at whatever the jury decides?  We should have seen this downfall coming, but we did not, or chose not to see it.

Whatever, a larger point today* is this: many of us are still refusing to see all too obvious flaws in our national leadership.  Many of us are setting ourselves up again for a major disappointment.

*Most of this entry was written in February of 2016.  I never got around to posting it until today.

(Thank you for reading. Prepare to be…let down!)


Blogger Raybeard said...

Been following these shenanigans at a distant arm's length. I don't know if Cosby was a big name anywhere outside the U.S.A. He's only a name which some might recognise here but has never really caught on. Certainly not a 'big' name. Anyway, it's a refreshing change to have someone in the news from your country as we get it that is nothing to do with you-know-who.

June 13, 2017 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you Raybeard for your thoughts. The Cosby controversy has actually been in the news at various times over the last two years. I like to think that his legacy will survive like Chaplin's legacy has survived his scandals, but we'll see.

June 13, 2017 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Dave R said...

The problem for Cosby was that when you sell yourself as being squeaky clean on TV people expect you to be squeaky clean, and he sold that image not for a few short years but for decades. His Karma is catching up with him.

June 13, 2017 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Janey, The Hanging Judge said...

I have no sympathy for Cosby. The only reason that he was not prosecuted for violating Andrea Constand in 2005 was that our then-district attorney, Bruce Castor -- a preening, self-important asshole -- knew he would never get elected for higher office if he put "America's Dad" in jail. Castor lost re-election as district attorney for Montgomery County, PA (where RTG, WQ, and I have resided for decades)because his opponent, District Attorney Kevin Steele, said he would prosecute this case, and he has. My only concern is that the jury is heading into a third day of deliberation as I write this...

June 13, 2017 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you Dave R. Unfortunately he couldn't keep his clean persona up 24/7. It is all very sad regardless of our views on his downfall.

Thank you, Janey. I had forgotten about Castor, but you have hit the nail on the head. Yes, Day Three and the jury wants to make sure they get it right.

June 15, 2017 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Bob Slatten said...

I saw this morning that the jury is still deadlocked.
I cannot imagine the discussions going on in that room.
I wonder if they're serving Jello.

June 16, 2017 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Dave R said...

Bob, you're so damn funny!

June 17, 2017 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

I haven't followed this matter so you do a fine job for me telling me what I am missing .

June 17, 2017 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Yes, that was a good one, Bob! We now know a mistrial has been declared and, yay, we get to live it all over again in a few months!!!!!

It's just as well that you haven't followed it, Spo. There's so many other nice things we can aim our satirical barbs at.

June 18, 2017 at 4:51 PM  

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