Following the report that comedian Bill Cosby admitted purchasing drugs to give to women he wanted to have sex with, cable stations Bounce and Centric removed reruns of “The Cosby Show.”
This brings up some very challenging issues.
- What about all the other amazing actors and actresses who were on the show? Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Raven-Synome’, Earle Hyman, Erika Alexander? Do we erase their legacy as well?
- What about “A Different World”? Do we remove this exceptional piece of Black entertainment because Bill Cosby created it?
- What about “Fat Albert”? Do we ignore the socially and culturally conscience series that taught many of us, so much about being Black and proud regardless of what we look like or where we come from?
My purpose here is not to persuade any of you, one way or another. I want to pose a few of the difficult questions on our response to the situation.
First of all, I see it from the victim’s standpoint. At this point, more than 40 women have come forward with allegations against Mr. Cosby. These are the people who have been hurt the most by his actions. I can understand why they would not want to see him and re-live the pain of what they have been through.
Secondly, I see it from the vantage point of a young Black boy growing up during the era of all these shows. If you were a Black teen in the 80’s and 90’s, you did not miss A Different World. Fat Albert on the other hand was a cartoon with a message. That moral of the story would often be summarized by the man that stands accused of these terrible actions. How do we reconcile this dichotomy? It’s like a doctor stabbing you while stitching your wounds. What about Little Bill Books? Little Bill book are SOOOO AMAZING? You can’t honestly stop selling this great children’s book series…. can you? What about the Little Bill TV Show? Don’t ya’ll touch Little Bill! Great stories of friendship, family, and being a kid.
Finally, it is possible to separate the actions of an actor/actress from the role that they play? Can we separate the worker from their actions in his/her personal life? How much weight do we put on a person’s transgressions versus that product they produce? Is their product evil since they are evil? Can a person who does wrong things create something that is good. When I look at “The Cosby Show”, “A Different World”, “Little Bill”, and even some of his early stand-up; the answer has to be YES! Does that mean that we should overlook his crimes? Absolutely not! We look at it from a profit standpoint, no one wants to enrich a person who has somethings wrong. So people are stuck with the issue of paying for what you want and ignore the people who profit or setting for something else winning a moral victory.
But these are the hard questions that many people are struggling with now. I pose these questions to create a dialogue. To find a way forward. For people to express how they feel about the great Cosby Conundrum. To talk about just how far we go. You can add you comments below or jump on over The Black Geek Forums. Share your options and read the opinions of others.
The Cosby Conundrum Forum Topic: http://theblackgeeks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=47
A Footnote about “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
I will admit that I had a 10” plastic General Lee car, that I use to jump off of everything.
Did my parents teach me about “The Civil War”, “The Confederate Flag”, “General Lee”?… No!
Did I learn about them later?… Yes.
Did my Black parents buy me the General Lee?… Yes.
Did I watch the show almost religiously?… Yes
Was I ever offended by the show?… Not that I can recall.
The Dukes even tackled the issue of racism on their show. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I honestly don’t believe that it should have been removed from the rerun cycle. There was nothing on the show itself that offends the viewers. That flag was not exploited as racist symbol on the Dukes of Hazzard television show. Personally, I don’t feel it belongs on the state property because state property belongs to all of the people of the state.
How much of TV history do we need to delete to meet today’s standards of political correctness?
In The Heat of The Night?