I just finished reading the New York Magazine article which features the stories of 35 woman who are accusing Cosby of rape. They are all deeply disturbing.
Here’s 4 reasons why Polite Society chose not to believe these women:
4. Polite society loves and nurtures it’s idols.
Bill Cosby was put on a pedestal because he is talented. The Cosby show portrayed a upper-class black couple living in abundance, with no drugs, no poverty, no gangs. Polite society loved their perceived perfection, and worshiped it. Looking up to actors on television shows has become the new normal. We welcome pretty little actors into our living rooms every week and the connect to these characters sometimes more than we are able to connect to the people our actual lives. We admire fantasy people who don’t really exist and expect the living human behind the character to be the idol we invite into our living room every week. We will protect and defend that image of perfection, until the bitter end.
3. Polite society craves simple answers to complex situations. We do not have time to dig deeper. It feels comfortable to hear a situation and create a simple solution rather than pushing past the comfort zone of ignorance.
2. Polite society must support the story of “The American Dream”. We love to believe in the possibility, even if our reality is crappy. Before The Cosby Show, TV shows about black people were connected to the blue-collar working and lower classes. Julia was about a nurse. Good Times was about a family living in the Cabrini Green projects of Chicago. The Jefferson’s was about the transition from working to middle class. Fat Albert was about kids growing up…in the projects in Philadelphia.
The Cosby Show was our first look at what WEB Dubois called “The Talented Tenth“. Cliff and Claire were a doctor and a lawyer who were homeowners raising a family in Brooklyn. The Cosby Show was a look into the secret world of the black upper class that has silently existed since reconstruction. This was the first time that the media portrayed a black family as…equal. The Huxtables were living the American Dream. The Cosby Show inspired thousands of young black people to actually believe that they could work hard, go to college and become a professional, marry a professional buy a home and raise a family…just like Claire and Cliff.
1. Polite society judges women harshly. We deemed these women to be liars. We judged these women for putting themselves in positions that they couldn’t handle. We see these women as “lazy” and “opportunists” for relying on the favors of a powerful man rather than just pulling their sleeves up and working hard in order to acheive the success they were looking for.
But ever since the cell phone video of Hannibal Burress’ standup routine went viral, polite society’s opinion has shifted. After 40 years of protection over 40 women coming forward and recordings of depositions of Cosby speaking about this, Bill Cosby is officially a pariah. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
It was common knowledge in the entertainment industry what Bill Cosby did to women. Many folks in the acting community in NYC were aware there was somthing fishy going on, but all of those Cosby shows brought so much union work to so many people, from crew to lighting designers to casting directors and craft service folks that nobody said anything because people did not want to lose steady paychecks with pensions and health insurance. In a business that is all about relationships, speaking out seems not to be an option.
But please look beyond the hype and recognize how polite society ‘s culture of silence creates false idols and encourages the masses to worship them. Ask some questions like:
Where are all of these “Agents” and “Casting Directors” who sent young women to private “auditions” with Cosby after hours at Astoria/Kaufman studios and in hotel rooms?
Why is no one calling the people in the entertainment industry who could have DONE SOMETHING about this out to question?
Why are we still watching shows like TMZ and Entertainment tonight… looking for our next idol?
What is it that we are missing in ourselves that we are looking to be filled by actors who put on costumes and speak lies for our entertainment?
How can we empower our young women and girls to protect themselves while at the same time embracing the joy and beauty of young womanhood in a world where sexual predators are relentlessly seeking to diminish their light?
What will it take for citizens to learn how to look out for one another when we see injustice even in the face of loosing financial freedom?