Bill Cosby Tried to Save Us
Bill Cosby is widely known as one of the funniest comedians ever. Some of us remember him from Fat Albert on Saturday mornings, others from his jaunts to the Playboy Mansion, others still from weekly television shows.
He ruled American culture on Thursday nights for over a decade. But what might surprise you about the man is this: The Cosby Show was his public service message to the country.
Well- known for quips on daily family life, Cosby approached network executives in the early 1980’s with an unheard- of pitch: A television show featuring a wealthy, respected, close- knit black family. The parents were strict but fair, the children prioritized their homework and had an ethnically- diverse array of friends, and everybody loved everybody else.
It became the highest rated sitcom of all time. Mr. Cosby was so un-offending, so fatherly and so funny, his influence transcended all races, classes and religions.
He is still so highly respected that nobody can even refer to him as simply “Bill”- he is still referred to (at least publicly) by his former cast-mates as “Mr. Cosby”.
But all good things come to an end, and so when the nation watched in horror as Los Angeles nearly destroyed itself with riots, Janet Reno started shooting babies in Idaho and Dan Quail opened the flood gates for all idiots, Mr. Cosby realized his influence was waning and the show came to an end in 1992.
The great Cosby experiment had sadly ended in failure: America just didn’t get his message.
There’s no doubt The Cosby Show should have been a larger influence on our lifestyles. It should have taught us we could overcome any obstacle in our path by pulling together. It should have taught us to respect our elders, our differences, and our children.
It should have taught us to respect ourselves and our environment.
It should have taught us to cherish the opportunity, and importance of, hard work and education.
But we blew that, too.
And then I think Bill Cosby got pissed:
“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English.
I can’t even talk the way these people talk:
‘Why you ain’t,
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be…’
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.”
This is an excerpt from “We Can’t Blame the White People Anymore”, a speech he gave in 2004. Though obviously written for a target audience of black teenagers, he became the first public figure in American history to publicly place the blame for the degeneration of youth squarely on parents.
Cosby came back to network TV several years later with the short-lived Cosby, which followed the antics of a retired black couple. But for the most part, Cosby has left the public eye, and if his past statements are any indication, he may have embraced a more private life away from the human- cockfighting he fought so long against.
We still see that human cockfighting today in various forms of the “entertainment” of reality TV, and that sort of bitchiness and ignorance is a part of our everyday life: the guy in the drive-thru, the parent in the park, the teenagers in the grocery store at 3 AM with nothing better to do.
And more-so than at any time in American History, we walk by when we see it.