bill cosby

2014: The Year the Outrage Machine Started Eating the Real World

If you’re inclined to believe #slatepitches, then 2014 was the Year Of Outrage. The Internet’s favorite shrine to contrarianism published an interactive calendar earlier this month wherein one can track, day by day, the things about which we (“we” being liberal American adults on the Internet, basically) were outraged this year. I’m not so sure this year was any different to any other, though: the public has always been fond of being righteously outraged, and for the last few years, at least, the Internet has felt like (and been characterized as) a giant outrage machine. But 2014 did feel like a landmark in one respect: it was the year that the outrage machine proved its power to chew up and spit out people IRL as well as on Twitter or Tumblr. It was a year in which the precipitous fall taken by Bill Cosby, in particular, proved that it’s much, much harder for stars to bury unflattering narratives these days. But the ever-growing power of the angry mob also has pretty terrifying implications if you take an old-fashioned view of what constitutes justice. … Read More

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2014’s Injustices Weren’t Backlash — They Were The Status Quo

It was a wave of protest too striking to be ignored: professional athletes donning T-shirts to pay tribute to young black men killed by the police — and demand justice for their killers. In Cleveland, the T-shirt worn during warm-ups by Browns player Andrew Hawkins last weekend named two local young men who both had been holding toy guns when they were mowed down by cops, John Crawford and Tamir Rice. Hawkins wore the shirt in honor of his small son. This is how the police behaved in both those incidents: John Crawford’s girlfriend was interrogated until she broke down in tears, before she even knew of her loved one’s death. Tamir Rice’s sister was handcuffed and put in the back of a paddy wagon while her brother lay dying. … Read More

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Mark Whitaker Still Doesn’t Get How He Screwed Up His Cosby Biography

When the powers-that-be at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the Graduate Center of City University of New York put together last night’s discussion of “The Biography of African-American Comedy,” it seemed a relatively uncontroversial event. With two biographies of noted African-American comedians slated for fall release, they’d put together a panel of authors and experts, share some insights, and have a few laughs. “Oh joy, what fun this will be,” Levy Center director Gary Giddins recalled thinking in his intro to the event, which prompted knowing chuckles in the audience, as one of those biographies became quite controversial indeed: Mark Whitaker’s Cosby, which came under harsh criticism for failing to even mention the rape accusations that have dominated headlines over the past few weeks (and reemerged partially due to their exclusion from Whitaker’s book). To his credit, Whitaker kept the commitment and appeared on the panel, seemed legitimately contrite and regretful, and still clearly has no idea what he actually did wrong. … Read More

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25 Women Who Drove the Culture in 2014

A thousand and one Internet blowups punctuated 2014, a long and eventful year full of triumph and tragedy for women and and trans folks in American culture. Yet before we look forward to the next frontier, we ought to celebrate the year’s many, many heroines. Whether they sent us into a collective tizzy with their scandalous album covers or had us pumping our fists in favor of their truthful testimony, these 25 women (plus a few honorable mentions at the end) were the ones who got us talking, thinking, re-thinking, and maybe, just maybe, planning a revolution of our… Read More

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Beverly Johnson’s Silence About Cosby Shows Just How Far Rape Culture Permeates

Seventies supermodel Beverly Johnson went public yesterday with a story about being drugged by Bill Cosby, in what looks like an attempted sexual assault that follows the pattern of nearly every other alleged assault by Cosby. … Read More

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Scott Saul’s ‘Becoming Richard Pryor’ Has a Complicated Relationship With Bill Cosby

There’s an anecdote in Scot Saul’s new Becoming Richard Pyror, where the heretofore straightlaced comedian punctured the solemn, celebrity-fund-raiser mood of a Hollywood Bowl event for 10,000 people after Martin Luther King’s assassination with just a sentence. “All these people here are giving money,” Pryor said, “but if your son gets killed by a cop, money don’t mean shit.” … Read More

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‘The Cosby Show’ Is Too Important to Erase From TV History

When I was a kid, I watched The Cosby Show. This is not surprising information: Basically every kid, every person, that I knew — black or white, but especially black — watched The Cosby Show. Older friends had the pleasure of watching the show during its original run; I was grateful for its existence in syndication, airing 24/7. It was on Netflix for a while, and now it’s on Hulu. There is always a way to watch it. But yesterday, in the wake of the seemingly endless and horrifying rape allegations against Bill Cosby, TV Land pulled reruns of The Cosby Show. Earlier that day, Netflix pulled his stand-up special, Bill Cosby 77, which was set to air over Thanksgiving, and NBC axed his upcoming sitcom. The latter two decisions are not only understandable but absolutely necessary. The former is a bit trickier to dissect. … Read More

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NBC Kills Upcoming Cosby Comedy Series in Light of Rape Allegations

NBC has announced that Bill Cosby’s (furiously) anticipated comeback on NBC will not be a comeback: the untitled comedy is not… Read More

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