As a white guy, it is my sad confession: I seldom use the words 'Ebony' and 'cover-story' and 'think about' in a sentence. Perhaps I should.
Here's the cover for Ebony this month. It's a good cover, and gets right to the point. The point, which is that artists should never believe their own art.
It is true! Picasso was an awful human being. Faulkner was iffy as a person. Dickens sucked. Woody Allen makes a lot of movies I quite like, but there's no ignoring the fact that he married his girlfriend's daughter, nor is there a way of forgetting he may or may not have sexually assaulted his own daughter. (More on that in a bit.)
Mozart? You probably would not enjoy hanging out with him. Same with Wagner and Diego Rivera and TS Eliot and Vivian Maier. The best thing one can do, as a creator of art, is to create.
Bill Cosby didn't just create art, though. He became his creation. For decades, Cosby spent a lot of time and effort being our paternal god: he told us what to say, what to wear, and how to act. One of my favorite stories about Bill Cosby involves Eddie Murphy, who is not an artist I spend much time separating from his art, but... this is pretty good.
If you didn't bother to play the above, which... why would you?... the point is Richard Pryor said everything one needs to say when it comes to Bill Cosby, and the hand-wringing over the legacy of the Cosby Show: "Tell Bill to have a Coke and smile and shut the fuck up."
Here's a thing I try to avoid mentioning: I really like Woody Allen. As a white guy, I think it's an easy thing to admit: Woody Allen makes several good movies, and has a solid stand-up routine. Certainly, he's made some awful life choices and it is always terrible to me to admit my true feelings about his daughter--Dylan.
But as a white guy talking about Bill Cosby? It's worse.
Cosby represents love. Hell, one of my favorite memories was playing a cassette tape of Cosby's "Himself" set for my racist great-grandmother, and watching her laugh her ass off. But the difference between Woody Allen and Bill Cosby has nothing to do with race.
Race is there. It's the reason no one should judge Ebony's cover picture. Race is at the heart of every word written about Cosby.
Woody Allen never pretended to be a model human. He never wrote a book about fatherhood, he never told us to pull our pants up, and he never insisted we should clean up our language.
As a white guy, I've loved Bill Cosby. As a goy, I've loved Woody Allen. But 50+ women have not accused Woody Allen of sexual assault. There is no reason to tell Woody Allen to "have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up."
With Bill, though?
The Cosby Show helped the US get what it is to be Black. It is awful that the show is now ruined for future generations. But the cast continues on, and Cosby--the man and the show--can't put a stop to the careers.