Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Little Sad

I was surprised that I felt a little sad when Bill Cosby was carted off to jail. When he took off his jacket, before they cuffed him, he was thin. His suspenders weren’t a fashion statement, they were holding up too-big pants. He could afford a tailor. He was playing us—always the performer, creating an image that might evoke sympathy. Not only was he guilty but remorseless. Yet there was an empathetic moment when they cuffed this feeble, old man.
I discussed this with a friend. We both knew that he was guilty but still had this moment when we saw him handcuffed and taken off to jail. What saddened us was his fall.
I was a teen when Cosby became the first Black actor to co-star in a leading dramatic role on network television, I Spy. He got an Emmy Award for playing Robert Culp’s eunich sidekick. As Culp romanced everyone, Cosby, fine as he was, didn’t get to kiss a girl until the last season. 
During the blaxploitation era, Cosby paired with Harry Belefonte who, frustrated with how Hollywood portrayed black men in film and television, spearheaded three Black comedies—Uptown Saturday Night(1974), Let's Do It Again (1975)and A Piece of the Action (1977). These low-budget movies were box offices successes and depicted Blacks in a more dignified manner. They showed Black characters taking charge of their own lives and reflected the self-empowerment theme of the Black Power Movement.
Then in ’84 Bill gave us The Cosby Showthat radically changed white America’s perception of us Blacks. These were not Norman Lear’s Black folk—the lower-income, project dwellers, trying to make the best of things, in Goodtimes, or the nouveau riche, loud-mouthed, opinionated George Jefferson. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both of these shows but cheered the first time I saw The Cosby Show, an upper-middle class African-American family like people I’d grown up among in my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. Cliff (Cosby) and Clair (Felicia Rashad) Huxtable were professionals, a doctor and lawyer respectively, raising their five children in their Brooklyn brownstone that housed Cliff’s office on the ground floor. Everyone loved the Huxtables. Cliff became one of the most popular dads in television history. The Cosby show rocked the ratings and ran for eight seasons. When it went into syndication, Bill donated twenty million dollars to my mother’s alma mater, Spelman College
I could continue listing Cosby’s numerous accomplishments—his book on parenting, Fatherhood, sold millions of copies and became a best seller. He was also drugging and sexually assaulting women. He deserved everything he got. But this dichotomy dispays me.
And where was Camille?

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