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Bill Cosby: How he betrayed a generation









Last October, American actor and comedian Bill Cosby suddenly got a lot of media attention. During a performance, standup comedian Hannibal Buress accused Cosby of being a rapist, all of which was caught on video and soon went viral. Despite the fact that Cosby had already been accused of assaulting 14 women back in 2005 and 2006, this video seemed to finally alert the masses. Ever since last October, a series of events -including a failed PR stunt by Cosby’s media team and more and more women coming forward with claims of assault- has only made the situation worse. People around the world are shocked to find that the man they once adored in The Cosby Show is actually a big creep.


The Cosby Show

Bill Cosby first started working as a comedian in the 1970s, after which his career quickly took off. He appeared on NBC’s the Tonight Show, and landed himself a contract with Warner Bros. Records. The adventure series I Spy marked his acting debut, and after many television performances and also record albums, he achieved his greatest television success in 1984 with The Cosby Show. The show was a comedy focused on family life and portrayed Cosby and his family as wealthy, intelligent, Afro-American people. In the show, Cliff (portrayed by Cosby) and his wife have five children, and Cosby is a real family man. The show attempted to battle stereotypes about Afro-American families, and this was certainly being noticed, as TV Guide called them the most atypical Afro-American family in television history. The Cosby Show was ranked the most popular sitcom of the 1980s. It also gained international attention, causing millions around the world to idolize Cosby. No wonder the shock was big when people started to find out about the accusations made against him. How could a man they had always seen as the epitome of family life actually be a serial assaulter and cheater on his wife? How could he have fooled everyone, letting them believe that he was a good man, an example for themselves and their children? How could someone be so deceiving and get away with it for so long?



Many have reacted angry and disappointed, feeling that someone they once looked up to has let them down in an unforgivable manner. Businesses and institutions associated with Bill Cosby are picking up on this sense of betrayal; theatres cancelling Bill Cosby tour dates, the Navy revoking Cosby’s title of honorary chief petty officer and the TV channel TV Land refusing to air re-runs of The Cosby Show, all of them afraid to be associated with a rapist and a traitor. Cosby himself has also taken some steps, such as resigning as a trustee from Temple University, claiming to do this because he feels it is best for the university and its students if he resigns. Does this mean Cosby is giving up the fight and is now just trying to crawl out of the spotlight? So far he hasn’t specifically addressed the accusations, also because he doesn’t really need to; due to the statute of limitations most of the women came forward too late to take their accusations to court. This not only angering the allegedly assaulted women, but many others as well, who wish for justice to be served and for Cosby to pay for what he did. The anger and sense of betrayal isn’t just limited to the United States; it is well present in other parts of the world, including The Netherlands. José Eliasberg (53) from Utrecht: “I always used to watch the Cosby show. Because Cosby always portrayed himself as a family man I was astonished when I found out about the accusations, I find it so hard to believe that he is such a perverted monster. My entire image of Bill Cosby has shifted.” Perhaps the real reason why so many people feel betrayed is that the situation confronts them with the fact that they trusted a man they didn’t know based solely on a commercial TV show. The Cosby scandal teaches us a lesson; never trust anything you see on TV.


Damaged beyond repair

Statements like José’s suggest that Cosby’s reputation has been damaged beyond repair. Madeleine Meijer (50) from Amsterdam says: “If the accusations aren’t true in the end, then his reputation will be forever ruined. That would be such a shame.” And that is exactly the dangerous thing about such accusations. Even if they turn out to be false, which is quite unlikely given the large amount of women who have stepped forward already, people will never look at Cosby in the same way again. His credibility has vanished and he will likely never regain the respect and adoration he once had. With this realization it is safe to say that the name Bill Cosby will never have a positive, happy and warm ring to it anymore. For many people around the world, the accusations have dented their childhood and ruined a great thing for good.

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