Hannibal Buress VS Bill Cosby. Photo: BET
by Azeezat Fadekemi Sulaiman
Publicity stunt or a cause for real concern?
When rising comedian Hannibal Buress went in on Bill Cosby last week and accused him of sexually assaulting women, it made headlines around the world. Why?
Because Bill Cosby (star of the Cosby show) is a legend, and in the US, African- American legends are very few and far between, so the rage against Buress was understandable. You don’t give a scathing attack on a national treasure without consequences, but Buress’ public indictment of Cosby wasn’t entirely baseless.
In 2006, the legendary comedian settled out of court with a woman Andrea Constand, who had accused the actor of sexually assaulting her after allegedly drugging her at his Mansion two years earlier.
Cosby agreed an undisclosed amount with her to keep the case out of court (and the glaring public eye), but not before the case had opened a can of worms with his accuser’s lawyer claiming that not one, not two, but 13 other women had come forward as witnesses claiming that the actor had assaulted them too.
Although we may never hear the stories these women would have told the world about Bill Cosby, the fact that we are willing to eagerly brush such cases under the carpet because they are too unpleasant to even fathom says a lot about us as a society.
Here in the UK, the cases of Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris have left us reeling as to how such highly respected men, loved and adored by many could be capable of such heinous crimes against women…some as young as 7.
What we learnt from these high-profile cases is that it is not totally impossible for Icons and legends to be capable of violence and atrocities against women and even easier for them to get away with it, because who would believe you? It’s your word against that of a well known figure. Chances are people would believe or want to believe them rather than you- a nobody.
It doesn’t matter whether we want to believe it or not….these things do happen, so whereas Buress may have gotten cheap publicity by going in hard on a much-loved and respected figure, instead of drowning our ears in contempt at the comedian for standing up for what he believed in, perhaps we may want to wait until we’ve heard the full story from the other side before passing judgement.
Until we hear from those women who accused Cosby (and any other women out there), we’ll never really know for sure, if the man who made growing up in the 80’s such a joy is truly worth all the adoration we bestow on him.