by Jason Koenigsberg
We all know the sad decline that Bill Cosby has gone through the past year. The accusations, the testimony, the shaming. Cosby was once the most beloved television personality that transcended race. Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s The Cosby Show was one of the highest rated and critically acclaimed television programs. During the ’90’s his reputation as a family friendly comic continued and sustained rumors and allegations about an affair out of wedlock and a lovechild. Bill Cosby was like Teflon, nothing stuck to him. He achieved love and admiration few celebrities can ever have and access to places most entertainers black or white did not receive.
The American public, as usual, was completely wrong. To be fair, we were duped. The first clue to Bill Cosby not being all that he said he was should have been 1987’s Leonard Part 6. The phrase “worst movie ever” is thrown around an awful lot, I hate using that cliché, however it really does apply to Leonard Part 6. It is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” kind of bad movies, not the “so bad it’s good” guilty pleasure variety, this is truly a cesspool of a film, it is actually that bad, stunningly bad. That Bill Cosby and everyone else involved in the cast and crew would be a part of it is bewildering. Watch Siskel and Ebert review and discuss this vile film. Roger Ebert wastes no time declaring it the worst movie of the year.
But I digress. Actually no I don’t, he followed up Leonard Part 6 with Ghost Dad (1990) seriously, how did he still have any semblance of a career after Ghost Dad? No, its not one of the worst movies of all time, but it is still pretty terrible and if you saw it when you were a little kid (like I did) and remember liking it, watch it again if you dare and then come back and tell me it’s good. In fact, just watch this clip below, its shorter and less painful than Ghost Dad.
Alright now, back to the point of this article. The point is, the American public fell for Bill Cosby’s profanity free, wholesome, family friendly brand of humor. In actuality, Cosby is one of the least wholesome celebrities alive. He is the most notorious serial rapist in American history.
At this point we all have to take our blinders off. Dr. Huxtable was a great television character but that is all he was a fictitious character. Bill Cosby was always playing a character to the American public. Thirty-five women and counting and all of these women’s stories match up sounding eerily similar. Cosby is a degenerate rapist and sex offender.
This is just a fact, and even though generations loved Bill Cosby, he is a bad person. Anyone that would drug women for sex or have sex with unconscious women is a degenerate and not only bad but sick human being. This is a shame because as a society we value honesty and Bill Cosby was one of the least honest celebrities we have seen. However, Richard Pryor was always candid. He let it all out in the open and asked us to accept him for who he is and if we did not like it, he did not care.
Richard Pryor let himself all out there for the general public to love or hate, to praise or criticize him. For those who value honesty, and we all should, Richard Pryor was one of the most honest comedians and celebrities in American pop culture history. He would make jokes about his own demons, his freebasing, womanizing and even about the time he was high and immolated himself.
Richard Pryor was loved and accepted by certain aspects of the American public, but not all like Cosby was or even Eddie Murphy post Beverly Hills Cop (1984). Sure college students loved Richard Pryor and his peers admired and respected him more than almost any other comedian. African-Americans embraced him because he was such a bold trendsetter and speaking things that many of them felt but could not put into words. What Thomas Paine’s writing did for the pre-Revolution American colonists, Richard Pryor’s comedy did for African-Americans. He was able to express how many of them felt in humorous and enlightening ways just being himself and speaking his mind. Cosby gave audiences an image of African-American success that they could strive to achieve and his vision and style of comedy was admirable. Richard Pryor’s style of humor was more vulgar but down to earth. Pryor let himself be out there, his good qualities, his bad habits and his ugly moments. Nothing was off limits for him. We all knew his dark side and it made him human and relatable.
Cosby could get into places Richard Pryor would have never been allowed into. By that I mean, mainstream America outside of the youth, professional comics and minorities. So pretty much, the boring Broadway shows type of people, White America. Bill Cosby could have come on the Tonight Show at anytime. In fact he probably could have hosted the Tonight Show if he wanted to or if the timing worked out. He hosted “Kids Say the Darndest Things” back in the late ‘90’s. He could have been on “Good Morning America” and hosted any major televised awards show, whereas Pryor would have been excluded from all of these. Mainstream American media viewed Pryor as a loose cannon and his type of humor was too dangerous for those outlets.
Bill Cosby was accepted by my grandparents and parents and in turn by the American public in a way that black comedians like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy were never accepted. My old Jewish grandparents LOVED Bill Cosby and they hated Richard Pryor, mostly because of the profanity he used. Today younger audiences are more desensitized to foul language since it is pretty much everywhere now. Profanity does isolate certain audiences and excludes older demographics. But that is who Richard Pryor was and if you did not like him he did not care.
Bill Cosby was living a lie. His stand up was funny and always family friendly. Even when he talked about drugs or more adult topics he was still watered down and appropriate for all ages. Cosby was always acting wholesome with his wife Camille by his side and his children under his arms. The man has serious problems. We still do not really know who Bill Cosby really is. But since these women’s stories all match up, we are staring to have a pretty good idea.
White America got it wrong. They embraced the wrong comedian. Bill Cosby in the public eye was never ‘Himself’. Richard Pryor was always himself and that was part of the problem. He even wrote, directed and starred in an autobiographical movie about his struggles with fame, drugs, and women called Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986). It is brutally honest (even shows Pryor digging through garbage for a crack pipe then light himself on fire) and far better than any movie Bill Cosby headlined. Check out the TV spot below and see this film if you get a chance.
Below is a clip from Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) where he discusses a phone call he received from Bill Cosby where Cosby lectured him about using “filth flaring filth” in his stand up routines. Now this moment from Eddie Murphy has a whole new meaning.
Side-note I love how Eddie Murphy: Raw and Leonard Part 6 were both playing in theaters at the same time. I’m willing to bet more people expected wholesome family laughs from Cosby’s wretched star vehicle and walked out disappointed. Hopefully the parents were smart enough and took their kids to see Cinderella instead.