Bill Cosby: The Death Of An Icon


I accepted long ago that celebrities are far from infallible. I’ve learned to expect that every so often a well-known actor or famous athlete is going to get in some sort of trouble due to personal indiscretions. Despite my self-proclaimed sensible understanding of celebrity—I still must admit that the horrific allegations leveled against Bill Cosby in late 2014 have earnestly shaken me.

“I grew up on Cosby. I love Cosby, and I just hope it’s not true. It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin [Williams], we lost Joan [Rivers], and we kind of lost Cosby.”

Chris Rock had that to say in a recent interview with in regards to the seemingly endless accusations of sexual assault that have been hurdled at Bill Cosby in the past year. This statement is incredibly powerful—and not just because it comes from someone I consider to be the greatest stand-up comedian of all-time. It’s powerful because it’s tragically precise.

Robin Williams and Joan Rivers may be gone, but their work lives on. Their untimely demises have allowed most of our society to embrace their comedic efforts even more so than before. Bill Cosby is still alive, but all the memorable things he has accomplished, in a sense, are also dead now.

Like Chris Rock, I grew up with Bill Cosby. I’ve always respected his stand-up comedy ability, even though I was never a huge fan of his material. I preferred edgier comedians growing up like Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor. Cosby’s material was never controversial or profane—and that makes the recent allegations leveled at him even more disturbing.

I may not have been completely enthralled with the stand-up comedy of Cosby, but I was a huge fan of The Cosby Show. The hit sitcom was a must watch television show for any kid that grew up in the ‘80’s. Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable character was the kind of father everyone wish they had. He was funny, loving, and stern when the circumstances called for it. Cosby had a great rapport with children and that was always a big part of the show’s charm.

That delightful component of the show is now far more disturbing than heart warming. Many of Cosby’s alleged victims say the abuse against them occurred when they were underage. How can his once tender scenes with the Huxtable children (4 of the 5 Huxtable kids are girls) ever be viewed in the same adoring way again?

It gives me no pleasure or perverse satisfaction to say Bill Cosby is dead. It’s not a proclamation that I take lightly in any way. It’s just the reality of the situation. Even if one day Bill Cosby is somehow miraculously proven innocent of the allegations, the damage is probably already beyond repair. I truly hope he isn’t the sadistic monster these women have accused him of being, but it’s also hard for me to believe that all of these women are lying.

The Cosby Show was a large part of my childhood, and that once special place it held in my memories has now been sadly distorted. The sitcom can never be erased, but the warmth and security it provided has been wiped away. If I have children one day, the show is no longer something I would be comfortable sharing with them. In many ways it may be better for everyone if we just forget that The Cosby Show ever existed—it’s far too painful to remember it.

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