Yesterday, I watched a video.
It broke my heart.
It reminded me of my Sundays when I was younger. Much younger. Sundays were special days. They were family days. They were the days mum made Mandazis for tea. They were “The Cosby Show” days. All seven of us would gather around the sitting room to watch our favourite TV family. Cliff, his wife Claire and their children Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy set the tone for what an ideal family was. The Cosby Show was a an American sitcom which focused on an upper middle class African-American family, the Huxtables. It was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. It was funny and it was serious. Every episode had a lesson. It was, what they call, wholesome family entertainment.
But recent circumstances surrounding the lead character and producer of the show, Bill Cosby, make me look back at the perceived wholesomeness with a pinch of salt. My beloved entertainer has been accused by not one, not two but at least 30 women of using his power in his heyday to sexually prey on them.By the look of things, the number will continue to grow by the day.
The accusations are yet to be proven in a court of law but they have had a profoundly negative effect on many 30+ year olds I know. We are reeling. As well we should be, anyone accused of drugging and raping a woman would leave anyone reeling. It’s just that much worse, when it is Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Yes, we understand the importance of separating the art from the artist. But we are not talking about some ‘two-bob- celeb’ that will do anything to make the news here. We are talking about the respectable, highly accomplished actor, author and activist Bill Cosby, the man who changed television. The man who ‘made our Sundays’. The Cosby Show worked to a large extent by drawing on the moral authority of Dr. Huxtable and by extension Bill Cosby’s character. It has become increasingly difficult to watch the show’s re-runs without having a ‘weird’ feeling.
So far, Cosby has been tried and sentenced in the court of public justice but unfortunately, that’s the world we live in- a world where courts of public justice tend to have a more damaging and lasting impact than courts of law. Since the accusations, the man has become something of a pariah. His donations over the years have been turned down, speaking engagements called off and TV shows cancelled. No one wants to be associated with the man. Except when they are talking about his scandals.
According to his TV wife, Phylicia Rashad (Claire Huxtable), this is the destruction of a legacy, orchestrated by someone. It would indeed be very sad if somebody was out to destroy Bill Cosby’s legacy. But personally I would rather that than the alternative. Because the alternative is more than sad. It is heartbreaking. It changes too many things.
Yesterday, I watched a video- this video– and it broke my heart