Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

BBC (2018)

Film Review

This BBC documentary is about the multiple rape charges against Bill Cosby that have surfaced in the last 14 years. It begins with a brief summary of Cosby’s stellar career and his former importance as an African Americans role model. The film highlights his unrelenting philanthropy and promotion of African American education, via millions in donations to Black colleges. In 2004, after the Cosby Show ended, he embarked on a series of nationwide tours in which he railed against black mothers for not getting jobs and not caring for their kids properly.

2004: First Rape Allegation

According to people who worked with him closely, Cosby was known for “cheating,” ie engaging in a series of affairs with women he mentored as proteges. However it wasn’t until 2004 that a woman made a serious rape allegation to Philadelphia police. When Philadelphia prosecutors declined to press charges (for lack of evidence), the victim filed a civil lawsuit. Cosby settled in 2006. The details of the settlement, as well as a four-hour deposition Cosby provided under oath were sealed.

As a consequence of the lawsuit, 13 other women approached the victim’s lawyer about their own experience with Cosby “drugging” and raping them. These new complaints received little media attention until BuzzFeed picked up a story about a Black standup comic named Hannibal Burris making rape jokes about Cosby. More women came forward, and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred arranged a press conference for those willing to speak publicly about their experiences.

Court Unseals Cosby’s 2004 Deposition

This, in turn, led an AP reporter to apply for Cosby’s 2004 sworn deposition to be unsealed. Although Cosby’s lawyers maintained this violated his right to privacy, the judge ruled his years of public “moralizing” negated his right to privacy.

In the deposition, Cosby acknowledged having sex with women he was mentoring and sometimes giving them quaaludes. This, along with dozens of new complaints from women Cosby allegedly abused, gave prosecutors sufficient evidence to proceed with the 2004 rape case.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June 2017. At his re-trial in August 2017, a jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting his accuser. Cosby is appealing the charge.

YouTube has taken the video down but it can be viewed for free here:

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

7 thoughts on “Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

  1. “At his re-trial in August 2017, a jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting his accuser. Cosby is appealing the charge.”

    Good! He was “hoisted on his own petard.” How can he ‘moralize’ to others about what they are lacking in when he was somewhere running around drugging and sexually assaulting women, left and right? Always beware of those who place themselves on pedestals and preach to others about what they need to be doing because usually there can be found something amiss about them as was the case with this depraved, sexual deviant. I am so glad he was found guilty and I hope he lives long enough to serve a sentence that should be his punishment. And believe me, he was no ‘icon’ to me because I hold no one up as an icon because when you do, you give them more due than they deserve. Just because he gave money for the education of Black people, did not give him the right, to at the same time, castigate Black mothers for their failure to obtain funds to send their children to college.

    This is another classic case of, “The Mighty Fall Hard!”


  2. I agree absolutely about the moralizing, Shelby. I never watched the Cosby Show – it came out around the time that I quit watching TV. As a young person, though, I really loved his stand-up routines. In my view Cosby had a real gift for being genuinely funny.

    This documentary explains the premise of the Cosby show – which seems to me to glorify the Black aristocracy. What a pity he didn’t do a show commemorating the generations of Black single mothers who have who busted their butt working minimum wage jobs (usually as caretakers) to send their kids to good schools and keep them out of jail. This is my main complaint against TV – that it never portrays real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you nailed it about glorifying the black aristocracy. While a long-time fan, I’ve noticed how the Huxtables – Cliff a physician, Claire an attorney in a leading law firm – are hardly the typical African-American family, which is still grossly disadvantaged on the US socioeconomic ladder. The Cosby Show is a huge contrast to an early Cosby film “To All My Friends Ashore”, about an airport porter who strives to balance his family time with his job as he tries to afford a home for them out of the ghetto.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks WeatherEye. Just out of curiosity, did the cast include hired help in the Cosby household? With a wife working as a full time high profile lawyer and the husband working as a full time physician, they couldn’t have cared for that many children without a full time housekeeper at bare minimum.


        • Strangely enough it didn’t. Cliff worked from home unless he was called to deliver a baby. Although in one episode he dreamt he was pregnant himself and gave birth to an orange soda and footlong bacon roll xD


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