Bill Cosby was one of the most beloved entertainment personalities in twentieth century who changed the realm of comedy in TV industry in America. He is also a cruel and violent rapist who abused his public image of a family man and pillar of the community to fulfill his disgusting urges. The discourse is about how Cosby’s persona and the love he received from the public helped him perpetrate vile crimes. Most of the time people are reluctant to accept that what they see on TV is far from reality and is not an expression of an individual’s personality. For three years, people thought Bill Cosby is going to die in jail as he was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman named Andrea Constand and the verdict put an end to the actor-comedian’s venerated career. But more than sixty women who accused him of rape and sexual assault didn’t get any justice. On top of that, in June last year the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overruled his conviction. Comedian and television host W. Kamau Bell’s docuseries We Need To Talk About Cosby emphasises the harsh truth of Cosby. In the four hour-long episodes, Bell uses archival videos and interviews of comedians, Cosby’s former colleagues and analysts to evaluate his legacy. In 1965 after his successful stand up shows he earned himself a role in iSpy, a thriller show on NBC, which made him the first Black American to star in a leading role in TV network. And he used his position to lobby the network producers to employ more Black stunt performers as his body double rather than White people doing blackface.
In addition to depicting his achievements and rise in fame, We Need To Talk About Cosby also shows side by side his accusers ordeal. Therefore, when we see the Black stuntman he hired for iSpy, simultaneously, we also watch Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy model, coming forward with her allegations of Cosby drugging and raping her in 1969. As the series proceeds, the viewers will see the increasing popularity of Cosby in 1970s when he made the innovative Fat Albert cartoon, appeared regularly on Electric Company and Picture Pages and earned a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. In the same decade, another young woman, this time a university student, named Patricia Leary Steuer made accusations against him and said, “I was in a bed, naked, and he was standing over me in his bathrobe with a toothbrush, waking me up and telling me I needed to go”.
The brave women’s stories have a pattern i.e. proffered pills and spiked drinks and then ending up in a bed confused, embarassed and feeling guilty and it indicates how Cosby managed to create his image as a moral figure. One thing which remains a mystery to this day is what led him to drug and rape women when in fact he could have had consensual sex considering his celebrity status. Another significant element is the large number of Black people who defended him and still do so. Bell has explained it in the last episode, many Black men and boys have been the target of false accusations from White people which resulted in their lynchings.
Cosby is a narcissist, sexist and vicious man who should be in prison and while justice has not been delivered to his victims, the unprecedented courage displayed by them by sharing their harrowing experiences has led to this culture of silence being exposed and lawmakers scrapping the controversial statute of limitation law.