Prince and Cosby

I had never been a Prince music fan. Had nothing against him but I wasn’t into popular music growing up and even less so as a young adult. (Universally I accept I have questionable musical taste; it’s ok.)

And since I’m being honest, Prince was just really too weird for me and I didn’t get it. But I accepted and recognized his influence on the world, his musical gifts, his place as an icon. I could definitely dance along to Little Red Corvette but rarely chose to.

However, I had always been a Bill Cosby fan. We owned his comedy albums, his books. I’ve seen every Cosby Show and A Different World. I knew of his degrees, his role in children’s television education. I embraced the notion of him as TV Father of the 80s. A lovable universal dad.

What does this say about assumptions based on: looks, talent, media presentation, and “gut” feelings?

Maybe it’s not fair to compare these two. Maybe it’s because I’m a white female and only have a small handful of black men in my media memories from growing up. Maybe Eddie Murphy and Prince are a better comparison; both scared me a bit. Cosby I would have outright hugged without a second thought.

Since Prince’s death I have read of his many efforts to promote and provide women with opportunities in music. Not a single disparaging word regarding his treatment of other people, except that perhaps he treated everyone equally strangely. But always with respect.

And what have I learned about Bill Cosby in the last 2 years? Nothing good; only extremely upsetting and disappointing realities of nearly psychopathic behavior and definitively a narcissistic soul.

What or rather WHO might I — or we — be trusting or mistrusting based on the words and images of media, powerful fictional character portrayals, or internal willful suspension of belief — refusing to believe because you just don’t want to?

Who is showing the world exactly and only what they must show in order to maintain whatever private selfish intentions they have? Who is routinely criticized, shamed or attacked for being different or weird? Who is universally trusted? Who is immediately suspect? And where do our feelings and judgements about people originate?