Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Is Bill Cosby Innocent or Guilty?

Is Bill Cosby
Innocent or Guilty?

Since the rape allegations against Bill Cosby have come out, people have also come out on both sides offering their perspectives on his innocence or guilt. Some have framed it as a white supremacist witch hunt to destroy the black father image. Others have viewed it as a man getting off easy, pun intended, because of his celebrity status. What many are not saying, or taking a look at, is the cultural context or backdrop these alleged incidents happened on or the mainstream medium they're being discussed in. What do I mean by that?

When you look at Bill Cosby's comedy career, on different occasions he's done comedy bits about slipping women a mickey; drugging women. He did it in live stand-ups, on his comedy album it's true! it's true! and on Larry King Live in 1991. This doesn't mean that he actually did these things but it does mean that this was something that his audience related to; it was an obvious part of popular culture, especially in Hollywood, going back to the 1960's where these incidents date back to. In terms of popular American culture, some of its background music historically reflects this notion about its drug culture. Here's a very popular song covered by various rock, country and etc. artists called Quaaludes Again you can listen to below. The artist even explains to you what Quaaludes are.

Quaaludes Again covered by Pork

Post WWII in the 1950's America saw an expanse of drug use that was articulated in a popular Hollywood film called The Man With The Golden Arm starring Frank Sinatra, who was speculated to be a cocaine business partner of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Even when you look at the backdrop of 1960's drug culture, including Jazz music, it's rare to find jazz artists who didn't have contact with drugs. Many died from this. In the 1970's you see it's continuation with popular heroin addict songs like Neil Young's The Needle And The Damage, Gil Scott Heron's Home Is Where The Hatred Is and novels like Faggots where the characters are constantly doing Quaaludes as a party drug used in New York gay community before the popularization of AIDS. Even in the 1980's you see it the popular film Scarface when Tony referred to his wife's drug addiction, the coming of crack and President Reagan's so-called War On Drugs campaign. This type of popular American culture continued on into the 90's and 2000's and cannot be trivialized or overlooked when considering the context of the Cosby allegations. Being a Hollywood staple for many years, Cosby and many others most certainly had contact with the drug culture. Hollywood wasn't in a vacuum nor a place in an alternate universe disconnected from popular American drug culture. Because of this, it's rare to find any comedians, actors, musicians and people working in the entertainment business who didn't have contact with drugs. With the new designer drugs of today, coupled with various drugs of yesterday, I think it's still rare to find comedians, actors, musicians and people working in the entertainment business, especially in Hollywood, who don't have contact with drugs. This has been a part and continues to be a part of popular American culture. A popular American culture that some of the present day corporate sponsored rap artists have now become one of its biggest advocates of.

Herein lies a fundamental problem; Popular drug culture is superimposed over a racist and sexist [misogyny and chauvinism] American backdrop. This is a problem that many of us overlook, ignore and ultimately fail to address. What this translates into are people of color and women being victimized in/by a system we may or may not choose to participate in. In the case of Bill Cosby we see this being played out on two fronts. First we see him being used as the face of popular American drug culture, which he is not. Yes it's possible that he sexually assaulted women in his past and got away with it because of his celebrity status and the fact that he is a male. It's possible that some of these women were active participants or outright lying. It's also a fact that various others were doing this, especially white male celebrities, yet they have not been demonized in the same way Cosby is. Take Roman Polanski for example, the famous director, producer, writer and actor who drugged and raped a thirteen year old at Jack Nicholson's house. He plead guilty to the charge of "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a minor" and in 1988 he agreed to pay her $500,000 plus interest based upon a civil suit. This and countless examples show you there's a contradiction here.

Secondly we see the marginalization of women living in a misogynistic society that mirrors ancient Rome and women in the Victorian era. Because of this, females/women are devalued, objectified and their issues trivialized. Take for example the recent public outrage surrounding the Rick Ross album Black Market that was pulled from Walmart's website because the song Free Enterprise had Anti-George Zimmerman/Donald Trump lyrics. In it Ross raps, "Assassinate Trump like I’m Zimmerman/Now accept these words as they came from Eminem." This is the same Rick Ross who was slapped on the wrist for his rape rap verse, "Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it" on the Rocko song U.O.E.N.O. While he was kicked off of the public campaign to represent the Reebok brand at the time, he is still the face of its Rebook CrossFit training program he remixed as #RossFit. What this and various scenarios sadly demonstrate is that females/women, especially ones of color, being violated, unacknowledged and not protected comes along with the territory in a historically sexist [misogynistic and chauvinistic] society. Now I've heard the argument that some or many of the women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault are hoes who were trying to f*ck their way to the top. Well even if this was the case, based upon your definition of a hoe or even a woman who proudly calls herself a hoe, even a so-called hoe has the right to be conscious and coherent while she's f*cking her way to the top. In other words, at no point is it alright to take advantage of any female/woman or male/man, without or even with, their consent, period. Unfortunately, this attitude towards human life has gone on since America's unsavory inception, up until today. In addition to looking at what's happening with these allegations, another problem is people don't want to look at the sick system that helps produce, protect and perpetuate these dysfunctional behaviors.

I don't anticipate or expect this narrative to be discussed along with the Cosby sexual assault allegations. Nor do I expect some cataclysmic shift in the American culture that continues to produce, protect and perpetuate dysfunction. This would require a system to indict itself. Has Bill Cosby received celebrity privileges surrounding these allegations? Absolutely, and this is a problem. Is he being treated differently than his white counterparts who've had sexual allegations or plead guilty to sex offenses? Absolutely, and this is a problem. Are victims or alleged victims of sexual abuse, especially females/women, blamed for what happened to them and/or slut shammed? Absolutely, and this is a problem. Has there been a popular American drug culture going on since the 1960's up until today that has shaped every aspect of this society, including the commentary surrounding these allegations? Absolutely, and this is a problem too. In analyzing what's going on I would encourage people to not get sucked into an emotional game on a lopsided field governed with unfair rules, covered by unfair commentators and funded by unfair sponsors.  In the end, nobody wins but them, unless we're wise enough to not play their game. Whether Bill Cosby gets convicted of something or not, the popular American culture is still here and we'll see more people like him in the news. Whether some of the women who've accused him of sexual assault are proven to be true, the popular American culture is still here and we'll see more people like them in the news. As we critique these allegations and determine what needs to be done based upon the findings of facts, we must also examine the areas in this cultural system that need to be revamped that makes drug and rape culture acceptable. This is especially important for our youth -who are being shaped and molded into the image and likeness of this kind of culture.


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