Others, ranging from Queen Latifah to David Letterman, backed away from Bill Cosby or let him do it for them. But Bloomberg says that Netflix still intends to go forward with a Bill Cosby comedy special, “Bill Cosby Live at 77,” available on the online service starting Nov. 28.
The title refers to his age, not the number of rape accusations against him, although they seem to be growing daily. The comedy special was taped in July in San Francisco, before rape accusations resurfaced in a big way.
It seems truly unfashionable to say this, but I don’t know if these accusations are true. I know absolutely nothing about them.
It also might sound awful to say something like this, but neither do you, unless you are Bill Cosby or one of his accusers.
But it does seem like that without any charges against Cosby, the comedian and the public are just left with litter, like an intersection car crash with lots of damage. There’s a spoiled reputation for Cosby, and assuming the charges are true, lives that have been been terribly altered by crimes that went unpunished and unrepented.
I’ll assume by now you know most of the details. Cosby was accused of rape previously, and settled with his accuser, who also gathered nine other “Jane Doe” victims. Now, onetime aspiring actress Barbara Bowman said in a Washington Post op-ed that Cosby also raped her, several times, beginning in 1985. She has said that for the last decade or so. A publicist, Joan Tarshis, now says she also was raped by Cosby.
The comedian, through his attorney, has “refused these allegations without any comment,” which is what he did when asked about them by NPR’s Scott Simon last weekend.
So is Netflix lightly disregarding these allegations by pressing on with its special? Or is it siding with Cosby? Or capitalizing on publicity? Or just fulfilling its end of a contract? And what about NBC, which supposedly is planning a new Cosby sitcom?
I don’t know the answers to those questions either, but it is going to be very hard — as in impossible — to imagine watching a Cosby comedy special and laughing at all, and that’s from a person who has formed no judgment. I doubt I’m alone on that. If Netflix is keeping with its plans for the special mainly for the bump in publicity it will get, that’s Netflix acting more like some rinky-dink cable network that believes it has lucked out with a promotable event with a star who is “hot.” I really don’t think Netflix is that stupid.
When I was a youngster, I kept a heroes list. I can’t imagine that now. We have suspected all kinds of people in the public eye of doing despicable things — and continued to let them function, in politics, show business and sport. We often forget without forgiving. To help ourselves, we just forget to think about the acts we can’t forgive. It allows us to carry on.
But Bill Cosby’s career was built on telling funny stories about everyday common things that we could all relate to, like eating Jell-O. True or not, these allegations make that act impossible.