Oh how the mighty have fallen even if it is just from our perception; whether it’s the first time a parent disappoints us, a best friend, the actions of a mentor we just can’t wrap our heads around, a sibling in trouble on down to a cheating boyfriend or husband, infamous double lives of bigamy and the con-artistry of wives stringing multiple men along, we all ask ourselves the question, is anyone who we think they are, thought they were sometime. Certainly Hollywood is no stranger to rising stars that fell from grace, formerly down home, wholesome, at minimum ordinary, people who lost everything from their sanity to their lives amidst sex, drugs, rock’n roll, fast cars, endless money and fame that tells you, you can do whatever you want. Further increasingly Hollywood has become a place of young stars gone wild on money, fame, little supervision or sound advice upon reaching 18, slightly before; former mouseketeer Britney Spears who went from adorable kid with tremendous potential, to solid singer all the way to running around L.A. wearing no underwear, in wigs, donning strange accents, who could forget shaving her head? Justin Beiber who went from innocently singing “Baby” and brining news show anchors teddy-bears to urinating in mop buckets, being arrested for speeding and DUI as well as crying during a court appearance; we all know the saga of Lindsay Lohan from promising child actress to drug addict, drunk who can’t get her act together, who was rumored to have been told by Oprah to cut the bullshit during filming of a reality show for the talk show host’s network. Miley Cyrus who went from Hannah Montana to wearing skimpy outfits, twerking and doing sick things with her tongue on national television making everyone think she was headed for a mental breakdown. Older Hollywood has had its share of basket cases too, from Danny Bonaduce and Leif Garret to Robert Downey Jr. and Charlie Sheen, thought to have his ducks in a row completely erupting, should we say imploding, across social media, being fired from Two and a Half Men, chain smoking, repeating phrases like ‘winning’ and ‘tiger blood’ as if he were hoping to coin them, perhaps trademark them. Then there are the Hollywood personalities known for being polar opposite, possessing marriages that work in the place that invented the starter husband/wife, being stewards of their faith, their communities, choosing roles, singing lyrics with an eye toward social consciousness and their position as role models, none more so than Bill Cosby.
For 30 years he has epitomized what the Christian Right has been begging from the Hollywood Left, a return to morals centered, family driven programing; today he represents, through the sit com, a happy nostalgia harkening back to gentler times, many in middle age, raising their own children remember growing up watching the show, watching the man who quickly became known as America’s dad, probably allowing their children to watch the re-runs. And next there were rape allegations; first we’re told these are decades old accusations, unfounded, unproven and never prosecuted. Subsequently woman after woman has come forward telling essentially variations of the same story involving working with, being mentored by Cosby during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, being young, barely legal, 18, 19, plied with alcohol or purportedly innocuous drugs, herbal supplements, he once stated were to ease anxiety, what amounts to ruffies before we knew they were ruffies, they could be used as a date rape drug. Waking up to having their undergarments removed, to being fondled, with Cosby having sex with them, coming to later knowing they had had sexual intercourse trying to piece together what happened. One woman reportedly assaulted while she had the flu; him “graciously” taking her back to her apartment, offering to help her into bed, initially seen as being sweet, comforting to someone ill, ending in sexual assault. Harrowing tales implying he used his celebrity status, his growing popularity, prestige, potential promises of help with their own aspiring careers to gain these women’s trust abusing them for his own purposes; woman after woman afraid to come forward, afraid of not being believed up against “America’s dad, Mr. Jell-O.” The 1969 case blasted in the court of public opinion for agreeing to a second social encounter with Cosby stating she did so because she didn’t know how to tell her parents what happened, didn’t know how at, remember 19, to get out of doing so where she was raped a second time; a pattern, if accounts are to be believed, continuing until roughly 2004. Story originally breaking in 2005 when victim 1, Andrea Constand, sued Cosby in civil court after prosecutes declined to press charges against the star for allegedly medicating then folding her; case settled in 2006 for an undisclosed amount of funds. Utterly shocking is that, according to court documents, a whopping 13 other women were willing to testify as Jane Doe witnesses in the case, including at least 2 going public today with their stories, avoided with the aforementioned settlement. His own lawyer backtracking, forced to eat their words about discredited allegations as the 3rd and 4th women came forward, acknowledging the 2005 case was indeed settled out of court. What brought this to the forefront of media attention in the last month, up and coming comedian Hannibal Buress incorporating the information into his comedy skit on smug black celebrities. And while this was old hat to mainstream media outlets, Chris Hayes is correct below saying it was news to the Facebook generation who made it viral in an age where we are no longer willing to tolerate rape, domestic violence against women amidst other deplorable headlines both showing how commonplace it has become and just how much celebrities and public figures mange to get away with it. Not just that he was a flawed man but with all the people who liked him, loved him gravitated toward him, wanted to be with him in multiple facets, the status, prestige and allure, the idea he couldn’t charm them into his bed; the only way he, at least thought he could be with women, get his rocks off was to drug them, skillfully lie to ply them with pills. One accuser calling him a serial rapist, Cosby mistress Shawn Brown believing her daughter is a twisted kind of lovechild from their involvement, where Brown says he drugged then had sex with her, one upon a time hoping for a continued relationship with him, a 6th woman has since come forward telling her story, hell his own biography details 20 Hollywood mistresses besides all the predatory, illicit behavior. Proving with finality a lesson for that Christian Right television is not life whether it’s the lives had off screen by stars from The Partridge Family, think Danny Bonaduce, or that life even in the 1950’s wasn’t what we saw on Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show. And perhaps trying to use television for moral education was always a bad idea, the catalyst behind TV Land removing reruns of the Cosby Show, Netflix declining to air his comedy special and NBC backing out of what was to be a future project.
Wait Bill Cosby had mistresses, loveable, upstanding moral pillar, Dr. Huxtable, man everyone wished was their father, had mistresses and we never knew, it never soiled his do-gooder image? Now in Hollywood it’s easy to ask are we judging the person on their actions, on the standards and mores of society or are we so shocked, awed and appalled by their actions up against the iconic figures they played, the family oriented names we grew up with? But Hayes pointed out too all through the Cosby Show, the 30 years since Bill Cosby has aligned himself with projects, become a community activist, defacto mentor to the black community, playing on and playing up the undeniable fact people saw Bill Cosby and Cliff Huxtable the character as the same person, leading everyone to believe he too was America’s dad, he too was endowed with fountains of wisdom, he too wanted to impart to the world via his celebrity status hints the fireside chats aimed at telling, primarily black people, how it is, his books Come on People and Fatherhood talking no nonsense to African Americans today challenging them to hold up there end of the deal for a better life, honor the strides made for equality and complete the work begun rather than moving several steps backwards achieving headlines for all the wrong reasons, losing your very life due to criminal activity, wasting away in jail for stupid decisions. True anything encompassing celebrities is subject to skepticism, interpretation and the scrutiny of common sense but this isn’t like Michael Jackson in the 80’s women claiming to have had his baby paternity tests baring out the untruth of those claims, even Michael Jackson post 1993 where there were clear financial motives for the accuser’s own father, representatives, indications later discovered law enforcement wanted to get him, not because they believed him a sexual predator and instead because sexual predator fit the mold always associated with his eccentricities weird, strange supposed habits. Nor is it echoing Justin Beiber who had a fan circulating rumors she was pregnant with his child until attorneys for Beiber reminded her their client was under age at the time meaning if she was actually pregnant by him she could face charges. Her pregnancy and push for monies to support the child exiting stage left. Sure these women’s motives could be money, unhappiness their careers didn’t go as planned, some could be delusional imagining themselves and Cosby having a romantic relationship that never existed and bringing him down at the end of his career is their revenge. Too, it’s possible, even probable there is the man Cosby was before the Cosby Show, how playing that role changed him, inspired him to be a better man, better husband, better father, looking at the world around him deciding to use his celebrity to mentor his community, yet if that’s how Cosby 2.0, Cosby social commentator came about, why not use those examples in his public speaking engagements meant to raise standards in the black community, why not come to them from a place of hey these too were my mistakes and you won’t be as lucky as I was to weather the consequences without fame and money; that lack of genuineness drowning the truths to be had in his words. Then again maybe not, maybe telling people what to do, how best to live their life was always a part of who he is; he did say the reason he agreed to do the Cosby Show was because he was tired of shows where the kids were smarter than the parents. Analyzing the allegations against him, reaction positive and negative, meanings extrapolated going forward, it’s less that a purported pillar of the community, where there are fewer and fewer pillars, turned out to be as bad or worse than what he preached against, the man telling blacks to pull up their pants, stop wearing hats, clothes backwards who apparently loathes body piercings could have been out raping women and using his fame to cover it up. That same man ignoring there are plenty of blacks who hold a job, sag their pants in their own time, doing all the non-criminal things he hates and still have never raped a woman, have never put themselves in a place to be accused of rape and more that it’s a question of do you ever have a role model anywhere; all the sports stars taking steroids, politicians taking your money. Outside Hollywood, the realm of public figures across the board, who have let power and notoriety go to their heads are teachers, coaches, mentors zapping our trust. No matter what your life goals there is no one to emulate, no one to stand as an example in business, in medicine, in journalism, in daily life.
Granted most stopped listening to Bill Cosby when he ceased being funny and started long winded rants on society admonishing African American dads and parents all to raise their kids and kids to pull up their pants and not denigrate the minimum wage job once talking about an Ethiopian man willing to work at Burger King, Dairy Queen because he knows he will someday own the Dairy Queen. Backlash either because, as speculated, blacks didn’t like a black man telling blacks the truth, or, perhaps because in his list of ills he mentions hats and clothes worn backwards, forget they haven’t done the latter since Kriss Kross was a non- gangster rap group in the 90’s. Blasts colloquial speech patterns is you, you aint, where he go, saying he can’t even talk like “these” people and kids can’t get anywhere not knowing how to speak English. While parents can spring $500 for sneakers but not $200 for hooked on phonics, something else that was out by the turn of the millennium 2-4 whole years before his “pound cake” speech made headlines. And that they can’t fly a plane or be a doctor “with that cap coming out of their mouth” says more about us than it does about them; that they have to speak a certain way to prove to the world, i.e. usually white people, they are worthy to attempt said career goals. He might have a stronger point if we didn’t say the same thing about the California twang, the southern drawl and recently made a commercial humorously mocking how Bostonians, northeasterners pronounce car keys to sell, what else, cars, forgetting that the Midwestern accent is the most widely understood, most friendly and persuasive, why they are often chosen for phone work, telemarketing, customer service/product line call centers, charity solicitation. Never mind if, ‘I haven’t heard one fellow yet say, “I went to medical school all because my gang members encouraged me to do so while we were breaking into the gas station” versus parents setting goals, having expectations, knowing what subjects their child excels in and suggesting careers based on them up against employers throwing applications for basic jobs into the trash upon seeing your address is in “the neighborhood,” your flat nose, your dark skin minus any dread locks, corn rows; neither will pulling up your pants, speaking so called “educated English” over the demonized Ebonics solve that problem. Opposers of the pound cake speech chafed, as they should have over being told, by a black man no less to erase all traces of their cultural identity to get ahead only to be looked down on by both blacks and whites for trying to be, act white, called a race traitor, accused of having an oreo problem. They knew over a decade ago what the rest of us came to know post 2008, what many millennials were slapped in the face with, education is not the panacea solution to getting a good job, forging a good life when you can’t afford it, when you can’t finish for lack of money, when you do graduate but with a mound of student debt, you do graduate but can’t get more than a minimum wage job, not for want of learning what you were supposed to but a lack of internships, apprenticeships, dissemination of information about how to get into field X; incidentally facts true across all races, ethnicities though hitting poor and minority persons first. They knew nearly 15 years ago Cosby’s teen stealing pound cake, leave them to the inevitable consequences doesn’t hold up against a Trayvon Martin who wasn’t selling drugs, who wasn’t a thug, did belong in the neighborhood and was shot dead because while he walked back from legitimately purchasing skittles and ice tea he came in contact with George Zimmerman. It doesn’t hold up to the story of Jordan Davis killed because he refused to turn down his loud music and the man, Michael Dunn, requesting he do so thought he saw a gun or John Crawford III shot for carrying an air soft rifle, available for purchase in store, around a Wal-Mart as he shopped. Scenarios about gang bangers, drive bys and street violence “killing ourselves” are highly insulting placed alongside an Eric Garner, suspected of petty a crime but dying in police custody before innocence or guilt can be ascertained, a Michael Brown who we will never know if he stole the less than $5 of mini cigars because he was shot dead by police with his hands up, when today police do much of the killing of unarmed black persons. No the problem wasn’t him telling the truth, calling out the black community, airing their dirty laundry; it was in only telling a partial truth, ignoring other parts of the black reality. The problem was him admonishing women for having 8 kids by 8 different men, when he is no better. Hey we all can’t have 20 mistresses a wife and pay hush money to protect our stellar image. Whether he is actually guilty of rape, various forms of sexual assault we will never know, but when you have this many women coming forward, you are certainly guilty of one thing, horrendously bad judgment.
Likewise Stephen Collins was another wholesome actor best known for his portrayal of reverend Camden on the hit show 7th Heaven rocked by the brewing sex scandal suddenly surrounding Collins, more insidious because it allegedly involved inappropriate behavior with children. According to an audio recording from a couples counseling session with his now estranged wife Faye Grant he admits to getting an erection watching a preteen girl and to touching another; recorded in 2012 the story broke shortly before Cosby’s when celebrity entrainment news show TMZ obtained a copy. Added details include a purported mental health diagnosis from the therapist identifying Collins as narcissistic with sociopathic tendencies. Grant insists she is not the one who leaked the audio to the tabloid news program and that she turned it over to police circa 2012 shortly after its creation; also refuted is the idea she exposed it to get more money in her contentious divorce from the star. Police did act on the information but the case went nowhere without a crime reported or victim identified. Authorities in both L.A. and New York are reinvestigating one initial formal complaint dating back to the 1970’s where a 14 year old did accuse Collins of molestation due to the revelations depicted in the tape, looking to see if they missed anything, more victims are out there to come forward. However the statute of limitations has run out on another case where a then 13 year old asserts Collins exposed himself to her in the 1980’s and a rumored 7th Heaven star having fallen victim to Collins has yet to come forward, confirm or deny what currently remains Hollywood hearsay. Collins is perhaps a glaring example of actors blurring the lines between who they are and the characters they bring to the screen detailing his own encounter with faith, ‘having a come to Jesus’ moment, if you will, attending and volunteering at a local Episcopal church in California were he became a lay minister. Profiles on him indicate the family man aspect wasn’t solely on screen finding a man devoted to his wife and daughter, even a father figure on set, achieving a whopping 27 years of marriage in a place known for relationships, nuptials lasting only hours, days, weeks or months all to come crashing down when he confessed to his wife about his double life, listing girls he had inappropriate contact with, admitted to cheating on her as well. Except People Magazine reports he is the one who initiated divorce proceedings; Grant calling herself blindsided by the filing, fueling the sense this is about money, bitter divorce revenge rather than a concern about children, horror the man you married is a perverted predator who has done irreplicableharm to our world’s most innocent. Still sexual abuse allegations are something you never live down, are a stink, a taint you can never get off your reputation proven true or false; almost immediately he was fired form filming of Ted 2, his upcoming appearance on Scandal, was dropped by his agency resigning from the Screen Actors Guild board. Many more people expressing ruined memories surrounding the iconic 7th Heaven they can’t watch the same way again. Retrospective scrutiny of his former works not helping public perception in the least once staring in a TV movie The Babysitter’s Seduction, a short film portraying a pedophile priest and 2 psychosexual thriller books have Hollywood wondering if his art imitated his hidden life.
Above is a clear picture of something far more suspect than the Cosby case with insidious motives equal to the allegations, potentially a scorned wife seeking money and not just due to the lesser number of known victims; firstly the audio has never been authenticated. Certainly it sounds like Stephen Collins, the distinctive voice of another beloved American dad, yet anything is possible, and with technology, increasingly plausible. Secondly on the audio you hear assumedly Grant asking questions, the man she states is Collins answering them in near graphic detail; conspicuously missing, a single solitary word from the therapist. Usually during counseling sessions, especially disclosing of painful, difficult secrets, shocking information, therapists often facilitate discussion asking participants to articulate their reaction, parties involved understand how others feel, help persons gain perspective, decide how best to move forward. It is extremely odd even if the therapist was aware of what Collins had previously told his wife, what he intended to tell his wife during the session, what he, according to the audio, admitted to doing to and around young girls, they wouldn’t be floored by the recorded exchange, they wouldn’t push Collins in places to be completely honest, give more specifics in places or even once be heard saying something. Indicating either TMZ, and therefore the public, does not have all the audio recorded by Grant or it has not all been made public. Further there has been the debate among media outlets and story comment boards regarding, if she knew about this years before, why is it just coming to light now; Grant of course firing back saying she gave it to police shortly after its conception. Analysts reminding the public unless she was a designated reporter, individuals mandated by law to report crime, suspicions of abuse, related to the professions they work in, she was under no legal obligation to do or say anything; again coming back to the therapist, if they had discussed these acts, the therapist was aware of what the person on the tape, Collins or not, had admitted to doing, they were under an obligation to report it to police because also revealed by experts the standard privilege to keep your information private under doctor patient, attorney client, priest parishioner are removed when it covers up a crime. That being said, why did Grant feel like she had to make the tape, and if she felt like she had to make the tape to give to police to stop her husband the monster, the child molester, why is there no investigation reported into the therapist and their practices? Until those questions are answered this rings of entrapment for a purpose likely to do with their divorce; it’s difficult in places to tell exactly what the man is admitting to on the tape leaving us once more sifting through shattered wholesome images and disappointment nothing ever is really what we think it is even of television shows meant to show us how things could be.