I have some things to get off my chest about Bill Cosby.
This is odd for me. I’m not much of a celebrity guy. I don’t follow celebrities or care much about what they do or say. Their job is to entertain. I can appreciate their talent without idolizing them.
There are a few exceptions. Two men on TV, from my childhood, had a profound effect on me. One was Fred Rogers. The other, Bill Cosby.
For those of you who don’t know, Bill Cosby was central in developing educational television. In the 70’s, he got his doctorate in educational television. Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and more, he was involved in.
I colored with Cosby on my Picture Pages. Daily.
I listened to a tape copy of the classic Bill Cosby Himself. Memorized it.
Then Bill Cosby started a sitcom, in the age where sitcoms were king, and he ruled television with a show about an upper middle class black family whose parents were highly educated and successful. Their problems were common problems of a family dedicated to love and encourage one another. The parents took time for romance and intimacy.
And here I was, a lower middle class white boy, and I wanted that life. Not specifically the level of wealth but the life, the intimacy with a partner, the love of a family. The beauty of commitment within imperfection.
Bill Cosby has been a fundamental part of my story and life. I quote from his standup and the show. It’s like this automatic thing.
Now it’s pretty clear that Bill Cosby has done some horrible things. Some people might still want to defend him, and I want to as well, but it is clear to me he is guilty of a lot of it.
So when a Cosby quote slips out of my mouth, I get angry and sad. There is a grief I feel with the loss of a hero. It may not be fair to me or Cosby. It may not be reasonable to feel this way about a man I never met, but I do feel those things. It is real.
The mature thing, however, is to realize that while Cosby likely lived this secret life of abusing women, the ethics he supported and expressed were not vain or worthless. Do I still believe those are good things? I do. I may be selfish with my feelings of grief over his “fall,” but those standards and ideas are real and important.
And when I feel that grief, well, at least I still have Fred Rogers.