Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhht . . .

Everybody is talking about Cosby, so what do I have to add? Not much, so here's 2 cents.

Maybe this is weird or maybe it's typical, but I don't recall ever hearing about these allegations until this week. Evidently they were reported earlier in a couple of places, but all of a sudden got major attention, purportedly due to a routine by a little-known comic that did the viral thing. Whether this heralds a New World Information Order seems to be one of the questions of the day.

I don't know about that, but I do think the zeitgeist is changing. Like the cultural landslide that is burying homophobia, we are suddenly seeing a massive change in prevailing norms about sexual assault. (Struggling mightily to keep my metaphor unmixed) the boulders started rolling in the military, rolled onto college campuses, and now are knocking down the privileges of the famous and iconic.

Is it a reach to say that we are finally seeing more payoff from the long, slow but very real expansion of the number of women in influential roles? Female senators had a lot of to do with the focus on the military, as do female faculty and administrators in universities, and now women in the news and entertainment industries. That's not all the credit obviously -- lots of men are on the right side. But it helped to get us to this tipping point.

As for the question of Cosby's innocence until proven guilty, come on. There will never be a trial but we're allowed to use our common sense to draw reasonable inferences. At the same time, this has no bearing on the soundness of his Booker T. Washington politics, which continue to stand or fall on the merits; nor on the value of his cultural contributions. Wagner's music is what it is, regardless of his antisemitism, and Pablo Picasso is widely thought to have been an asshole. (That's the technical term.)

Still, going forward, no-one will be able to suspend disbelief in the Cosby persona or find him amusing. (He was already pretty much anachronistic anyway, so small loss.) When the reality of the actor behind the mask is that overpowering, the act is bound to fail. So he is now gone from public life, and he'll just wither away.

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

True. Folks will line up to see him but he will become more and more irrelevant. It's amazing how a person becomes a "brand" and people flock to see her/him, no matter how tired or dated the act is. Thankfully, awareness is being raised--for instance, no matter what the grand jury decides in Ferguson, MO, awareness of the impunity with which cops kill black kids--Richard Pryor made the tragedy of it funny back in '79--is increasing. Black folk and many white folk have known about it for a long time, but it's getting out into the larger society now. The intellectually and ethically challenged will continue asleep, spouting "opinions" and platitudes and talking points. But change is slowly coming. With the Internet and social media, it can't really be any other way.