I’ve been posting stories about Bill Cosby’s record of rape on Reel Girl’s Facebook page for years. The stories from different women, spanning years back, have always been strikingly similar. Cosby invites them to a private place to help them on their career. He offers them a drink, and the next thing they know, they are half conscious and naked. Why did it take “real” journalists so long to take these allegations seriously? Here is the best and most honest story I’ve read from journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. Please read it.
I’ve researching the life and career of Freddie Mercury and the history of Queen lately. Vilified simply because of being homosexual, yet history is now showing that Freddie was a man who was actually quite upstanding. His only ‘crime’ was to be gay, as his promiscuity as a single male rock star would never have made headlines or raised eyebrows had it involved sleeping with women. It is so sad to think Bill Cosby as not only a lifelong predator, but one who perhaps sculpted his ‘brand image’ so as to facilitate being a predator. Thank goodness we are culture and époque that can not only evolve in such a way to appreciate good character despite archaic prejudisms, but a culture and époque that can identify and reject bad characters despite all the money and power cosmetic sanctimony can prop up in front of it.
Oh great. Now Cosby’s going to end up just like Jimmy Saville as well, that is, going from being a beloved cultural figure to a reviled joke punch line virtually overnight, so to speak. I mean, at this rate, soon we’ll be left with no one to look up to, since all renowned celebrities eventually turn out at some point to be rapists, child molesters, wife-beaters, and the like. Moreover, enjoying that person’s work means that you are basically endorsing their actions, right?
Sorry if I sounded a bit aggressive there, but I’m just trying to figure out how exactly I’m supposed to react to all this. I mean, is it truly possible to enjoy a person’s work while also acknowledging their more questionable (even criminal) actions? Please tell me if this can be done or not, because I really want to know.
The first part of your comment makes absolutely no sense. And no, I personally cannot enjoy Cosby’s work knowing he’s a rapist, not his jokes about drugging women, his sex life with his wife, nor can I enjoy his shows about what a great dad he is to his TV sons and daughters.
This is partially why I have been so upset to learn about Cosby’s serial rapes. His comedy, both The Cosby Show and his standup act, served as the background of much of my childhood. I tend to think in movie and media quotations. For instance, to this day, I find myself thinking “Jeffrey! Jeffrey! Jeffrey!” when I get on a plane with my 4 year old. My inner monologue uses so many Bill Cosby quotations, I feel as though I have to rewrite my entire childhood and so much of my personal shorthand now that I understand what a monster Cosby is. It’s horrifying, but I can’t unsee the monster and there can never be easy laughter at his jokes ever again.
Yeah, I kinda let my emotions run on auto-pilot there. What I was saying is that it seems like every beloved male celebrity these days eventually turns out at some point to be a monster, whether they be rapists (like Cosby), child molesters (like Saville, Woody Allen, or Bryan Singer), wife beaters (like Michael Fassbender – yes, I actually read somewhere that he really does do that), or worse. At this rate, pretty soon we’ll have no one to admire and look up to because they’ll all turn out to be evil in the end. The fact that our patriarchal society lets you get away with literally anything if you are a male doesn’t help.
Look up to women instead. You can’t have 100% safety, but female celebrities are a lot less likely to turn out to have raped someone.
So far, J.K. Rowling has not disappointed me. I haven’t heard anything bad about Cornelia Funke, either.
Thanks for your dogged pursuit of the truth so many years Margot! The one sentence I most appreciate in Coates’ excellent piece is: “Rape constitutes the loss of your body, which is all you are, to someone else.” I’m an incest survivor and it’s very rare in my experience for someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted to understand what it does to victim/survivor. And then he apologizes for not pursuing the allegations sooner as a reporter. Bravo Ta-Nehisi!