Martha Thomases: Bill Cosby Remembered

Bill Cosby Snow White

Hello, everybody! This might be another column in which I am wrong.

Well, not entirely wrong. We’re talking about my personal opinions and tastes, and while you might not like them, you can’t exactly say I don’t have those particular feelings.

So, here it is: I think Bill Cosby is really funny.

I don’t think he’s a good person. I don’t think he’s the same person as Dr. Huxtable or Alexander Scott, because those are fictional characters with writers putting together the words they speak.

But I think his stand-up is, for the most part, really funny.

By his stand-up, I mean his stories and his jokes, the ones he tells about racing with his friends when he was a kid, or going out to dinner with his wife. I most definitely do not mean his lectures to the African-American community about pulling up their pants or not cussing.

Those jokes, the ones that I like, are something I’ve shared with my friends since high school. We could convulse each other by repeating them, no matter how many times we had laughed at them before. Those remain some of my fondest memories of bonding with the women who remain an amusing part of my life.

Is it possible to separate the work from the man? Can I ever watch The Cosby Show again and laugh?

I would like to. And I would like that choice.

In the wake of all the terrible allegations (and disclosures!) about the real human being, Bill Cosby, a large number of media outlets have stopped running his programs. And I understand that, because these media companies need to be conscious of their bottom line, and they can’t seem to supporting a serial rapist.

Because, apparently, a lot of people can’t tell the difference between Dr. Huxtable and Bill Cosby.

Nothing I’m saying should be interpreted as a defense of Cosby. I’m not saying that the crimes he is said to have committed are less important than my need to be entertained.

I’m saying that The Cosby Show didn’t commit any crimes. The work is separate from the star, even when that star is the creator and producer.

There are people working in comics who, in their personal lives, act abominably. I’m not going to call out any one in particular, because none of these people is a public figure and I’m not talking about criminal actions, but I tend not to support their work with my entertainment dollars. I won’t stop you from doing so, if you enjoy the work.

I’m much more likely to noisily air my displeasure when the work itself is repulsive to me, either personally or politically. For example, I’m certainly not going to watch this new Adam Sandler movie when it comes out, unless reviewers tell me the depiction of Native Americans is the exact opposite of what the link describes. And I’m going to have trouble with Mr. Sandler’s work in general, because of this story told by Rose McGowan and others.

Is Adam Sandler the only person in Hollywood with offensive politics? No, of course not. Do I sometimes find myself at a movie that I wouldn’t want to support? Yeah, it happens. I’m not consistent. I contain multitudes.

In the meantime, can someone bring back Barney Miller? That was really funny and, in my memory, was remarkable inclusive and understanding for its time.