Heathcliff Huxtable was America’s dad as the 1980s came to a halt and the 1990s rolled in. Who didn’t love the Coogi sweater-wearing doctor who was the perfect family man? I haven’t found that person yet, and it’s because Bill Cosby played him with the ideal combo of cuddliness, sternness and hilarity that gave us all warm and fuzzies.
What we know now is that Bill was far from who Heathcliff was. He might have been America’s dad on TV, but in real life, Cosby might be a sexual predator, and he is losing all the protection that Heathcliff got him over the years.
In recent weeks, Bill Cosby’s shady past has been thrust into the spotlight because he’s working on a sitcom with NBC. What really put it back in our faces is when Hannibal Buress went in on the respectability politics-touting OG, saying he had no right to tell Black men to pull up their pants when “Well, yeah, you’re a rapist… If you didn’t know about it, trust me. You leave here and google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ It’s not funny. That shit has more results than Hannibal Buress.”
All the WELPS that ever WELPED.
Hannibal did not say it meekly or let it pass as yet another joke. He made sure people understood that we’ve been overlooking a very important thing here because “I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns.” And he might have accomplished his mission, because when his set got covered all over the news, many of us newly found out that 13 women have accused Bill Cosby of rape. Not 1 or 2 or even 3. THIRTEEN. Two whole hands and half a foot worth of humans saying this man violated their bodies. Yet we’ve either not known about it (because it is hasn’t been reported much), chosen to ignore it like it didn’t happen or we’ve repressed the fact that we knew because the implications are huge for us Cosby fans. It would mean that he’s a terrible person.
Although Cosby has never been criminally charged with rape, he’s been sued for it. One woman even said he drugged her and then molested her in his home. Lack of any charges doesn’t automatically mean innocence on his part, though, and I know that being sued isn’t an automatic guilt either. However, where there is smoke, there is fire, and 13 women alleging that he raped them feels like we might need Smokey the Bear’s services.
Women do not generally lie about being raped. Only 2-8% of rape allegations are considered false, so using that math, AT MOST 1 person in the 13 is lying. So let’s just throw out the idea that there’s some sort of Lie About Rape Club where women get together and figure out who to lie on OVER A DECADE. Let us stop going to that defense any time a man we want to protect has been called out for rape. It is a weak argument that distracts us.
Yes, we want to believe that our beloved Heathcliff did not assault women, and that’s fine. But Huxtable is not Cosby. The man is not the art or the work. Our need to protect men like Bill instead of giving their victims space to share their experiences is definitely a part of rape culture. We don’t give these women the benefit of the doubt, and in turn, we are giving these men no consequences for violating them. Which helps continue the cycle of abuse, because lack of real punishment means we’ve put our stamp of approval and we allow it to happen. It’s almost like we’re giving them a silent high five, and that is awful. See: NBC moving forward with sitcom plans with Bill.
On Monday of this week, a tweet from the @BillCosby Twitter account said “Go ahead. Meme me!” and he got dragged from here to Djibouti. To say it backfired is an understatement. That’s like saying a 3rd degree burn hurts a little bit. The #CosbyMeme hashtag was catastrophic for him, and it really showed that he has lost his Heathcliff protection (rightfully).
It also showed the importance of a good digital strategist because whose dumb ass idea was that? Either he has a terrible team or HE needs to not “Twitter” without a team. Did he ignore the entire internet for the past month? Was the guy monitoring his brand busy? That was a disaster that anyone could have seen coming, but I think Bill actually thinks he is beyond reproach. NOPE. The tweet where he asked to be memed is now gone, by the way.
Everyone is flawed, and especially the iconic men who we revere or place on a pedestal. Every single one of them seems to have skeletons just chilling in their closet, but rape is beyond a flaw. Being a rapist means you have taken someone else’s body and forced yourself on them in a false moment of power. It means you’re a terrible person. Although it does break my heart to admit this, Hannibal is right. It’s going to make watching the Cosby Show a little more awkward.
This is like finding out that Santa Claus is a member of the KKK. I can’t even deal.
Luvvie is a serial ranter and blogger who talks pop culture at Awesomely Luvvie, technology at Awesomely Techie and is the head behind DumbestTweets.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@Luvvie), Facebook and Instagram.