Some court documents about Bill Cosby giving drugs to women in the 60s and 70s recently came to light. We tend to look at past events sometimes through today’s lenses when it suits our purposes. These are sins of the past. Imagine sex and drugs in the 60s – shocking! So does giving women drugs and having sex with them = drugging women and having sex with them? Alcohol and drugs are often part of many sexual experiences. The same elements in different contexts will lead you to different conclusions about what the circumstances were. Add the media to these types of events and the spin is in whatever direction gets the most ratings.
The shootings in South Carolina are another example of the media fueling a direction in public opinion. What if that same shooting took place in the midwest somewhere? How would the media have portrayed the events. If you take away the spin I think it might have sparked more pressure to eliminate assault weapons, to improve background checks, and increase training requirements to be able to purchase a gun. Surprisingly none of those things happened. Instead the focus has been on the confederate flag and pulling the “Dukes of Hazzard” from TV Land. Maybe it is 150 years too late to put away the confederate flag, but are we really making people of color safer from racially motivated violence? it’ a feel good victory that probably doesn’t do much in the big scope of things. But it was something that the media got a lot of mileage out of.
So lets get back to Bill Cosby. He is such an iconic figure that the mere suggestion of impropriety is worthy of the front page of CNN. Regardless of what he did or may have done, Bill Cosby’s career is for all practical purposes – over. This whole thing has cost him millions and at the same time he hasn’t been charged with any crime or is he the subject of ongoing litigation. A lot of this also hinges on use of a drug that was so recreationally abused that the manufacturer stopped making it. Early in his career, Bill Cosby did a routine about “Spanish Fly”. In 1969 it had a sense of innocence that got laughs from men and women alike. About on par with oysters for getting someone in the mood. It is an aphrodesiac that has been used for over 1000 years. Listening through a modern lens, people immediately think Rohypnol which isn’t for getting someone in the mood. Feeling in the mood for sex, and not remembering the last 12 hours of your life are very different experiences.
Like it or not celebrities live in a world that is different than what most people experience. Sex, drugs, power, and money are all exaggerated. Relationships often have an unequal element of power which is a common element in sexual abuse cases, but it’s an every day occurance in the life of a celebrity. People want things from you and will do things go get it. Conversely, discreet relationships may skirt legal boundaries because of the ever present public eye. Just because someone is powerful and lacks a strong moral compass, doesn’t make them a rapist. And just because they are a public figure doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of rape. It’s a debate that is not likely to be resolved. Most of the cases are too old, and if any of these make it to either criminal or civil court it will be years in the future. I guarantee if that happens, Bill’s memory won’t be good enough for his own defense. The only winner in this this legal theater will be the media.