Cosby allegations create contention about Hollywood idolization

Eli Lefcowitz, Staff Assistant

Until recently, Bill Cosby was the embodiment of wholesome family entertainment.  Many students have fond memories of watching The Cosby Show in middle school or Fat Albert on Saturday mornings.  His comedy was innocent and timeless. However, “America’s Dad” recently became the subject of controversy after more than 25 women accused him of rape.  Cosby’s position as a role model in people’s lives was ruined, as well as his entire life’s work. Nobody could have expected such allegations towards such a seemingly innocent and inspiring man.  Ever since Hollywood has become a fixture in American culture, people have looked to it for idols and role models.  However, recent allegations should arouse skepticism about celebrities.
Bill Cosby was a ground-breaking comedian with quite a backstory.  After dropping out of school in the tenth grade, he enlisted in the Navy. Soon, he was able to acquire a sports scholarship to Temple University, honing his skills for comedy while playing fullback on the school football team.  Despite a couple failed television shows, he premiered The Cosby Show in 1984.  The show was different in that it portrayed an intelligent, affluent African-American household.  Within months of its premiere, the show garnered great ratings and a multicultural audience.  Cosby later said he created the show in response to the violence and sex that was becoming more prevalent on TV. Rather ironic when viewed in the context of these allegations.  Cosby became a renowned comedian applauded for comedy that touched on serious subjects such as disabilities, teen pregnancy, and poverty.  Children growing up in the ‘80s have fond memories of watching and learning from The Cosby Show.
For some, these achievements make allegations against Cosby hard to believe.  However, the magnitude of 25 women alleging the same thing has been able to convince others of the unthinkable: their role model is a criminal. Most of the women said that Cosby drugged and raped them, some going on to include details of violence.  These actions are disturbing by themselves, but that such a trusted figure was accused shocked America.
Many critics are already skeptical about how much we look up to and trust Hollywood, and their case is furthered by the fact that the first rape allegations regarding Cosby surfaced over ten years ago, in 2000.  Even with this allegation, he was listed as the third most trusted celebrity, according to an American marketing group.  After the latest rape allegations, he fell into the high 2000s on the list.
America should not have such strong trust in the characters they see in the media.  As after all, a character is just that: a completely fictional person and personality.  Judging an actor based on the characters they portray is extremely unwise.  They are entertainers, and their job should extend beyond that, especially with all the real role models that exist.  From scientists to politicians to philanthropists who unceasingly pursue a better society, there is no shortage of role models.  And yet,  Americans choose to worship entertainers.