By Jake Moross
I couldn’t help but think while reading and writing about The Cosby Show this week that there was something deeply troubling about the stark contrast between Bill Cosby’s character in The Cosby Show, Cliff Huxtable, and his real self – the Bill Cosby we know today as the sexual predator, someone whose success and lack of values pushed him to commit multiple heinous sexual crimes. What I find so peculiar about this is how deeply ironic this is as we think about what The Cosby Show embodied. The Cosby Show was revolutionary in the way that it pushed the stereotype boundaries of race in America at a time where race was a prevalent topic of contention amidst the Civil Rights Movement. It pushed the boundaries by displaying a family with nothing but wholesome good values, and showed that it was possible to be an African American family with financial stability, a high level of education, and solid familial values. Thus the image that Bill Cosby put forth through his portrayal of Cliff Huxtable was one of the ultimate guy – a great family man with great values, who was educated and successful and, nevertheless, maintained these values.
In recent times, the Bill Cosby that was so loved and revered by American culture has been shattered. Bill Cosby is now associated with ideas of abominable values, tainted by the inability to control one’s success and fortune. Bill Cosby is seen as the opposite of a family man – he is a sexual predator whose criminal future looks bleak. If you had told someone this in the 1980s, they probably would have looked at you like you were crazy. Again, when watching and reading about The Cosby Show I just can’t help think about how deeply ironic this is. Bill Cosby went from being America’s hero to America’s nemesis, only in the span of about 30 years.