When I was five years old, and my little sister four, my parents bought a new house and we moved. The new house was awesome! It had stairs, it was blue, had a huge back yard, and even a swimming pool! All the finances were settled, we were finally all moved in, and then my parents made a discovery. The next door neighbor was a registered child sex offender. Needless to say that upon discovery, my parents became mama and papa bear. The “Next door neighbor” became “The weird man next door. Don’t look at him.” He would walk around outside with his shirt off and I would get one laugh and point in before my mom would grab me. If my parents knew he was home, we were not allowed to go outside, not even in the back yard. We were constantly disappointed by swim sessions interrupted by the weird man walking around on the other side of the fence. My mom knew it was disappointing to us—that we couldn’t even enjoy the pool because of the sex offender—so she would take us inside to watch “The Cosby Show” instead.
All better! We were happy again! The show was hilarious. That Bill Cosby was quite the stand up. We loved him! Ten years later I had another sister that would also sit and enjoy “The Cosby Show.” Fun for the entire family. And that “Little Bill” was super cute.
Breaking news, Bill Cosby accused of sexually assaulting over 13 women using drugs.
Um. What? Bill Cosby? The Fat Albert guy? The Jello guy? Dr. Huxtable? Little Bill? Little Bill raped a bunch of people? I don’t buy it.
Breaking news, more and more women come forward claiming that Bill Cosby drugged and raped them.
No. Please no. But yes. We had let a rapist into our home—and I’m not talking about the creepy guy next door. “The Cosby Show” was turned off. “Little Bill was turned off.” Bill Cosby radio on Pandora stopped playing. We wanted to get him out of our house. We stopped cold turkey. Any mention of Bill Cosby was an abomination. This went on for a while.
But then one day my youngest sister did something crazy. She put on “The Cosby Show” again, and the rest of us did something unexpected. We watched, and we laughed. It was at that moment that we grew a brain. “Wait a second,” we thought. “We never actually let him into our house. We never let him step through our front door and shake our hands.” We began to realize that we never let the artist into our home, we let the artwork in. And there IS a difference. We began to realize that Dr. Huxtable and Little Bill were innocent; the characters were still acceptable and moral. The jokes were genuinely funny with no trace of drug or sex references. It was good art, from a bad artist.
We discovered that we did not have to approve of Bill Cosby to enjoy his work, a fact that I wish everybody would accept. If you think I’m crazy for thinking this, fine. But take a good long look at the shows and movies you watch, the actors in them, the music you listen to, and the artists who write them. You may find that Bill Cosby is just another member of the normal, messed up society in which we live. And maybe, if we accept this, Netflix and TV Land will bring “The Cosby Show” back.
The weird man next door eventually moved out. I remember peaking out of the window to watch him pack his things into the truck. It struck me how many canvases and paintings I saw. Beautiful, beautiful pieces. I marveled at his work, as my mom pulled me away from the curtain.