I Am Bill Cosby’s Neighbor?

Seriously, I live on the street in Elkins Park, PA where Cosby allegedly assaulted the woman he was arraigned this week for attacking in 2004. So, I must know whether he’s guilty, right? You know, proximity to the crime (alleged) and all that.

Alas, I don’t. Neither do you, unless you are one of the two people in the room that night. I have opinions, as do you perhaps, but mine are no more valid than yours. Apparently, People Magazine doesn’t agree with me because on the day of his arraignment, a reporter from that magazine was trolling my street asking the neighbors if they had ever seen Cosby and if so, what they thought of his guilt or innocence. Cosby’s house had awesome tulips every spring and lovely Christmas lights once upon a time, but that’s pretty much the extent of what I witnessed. I have seen Cosby two times in the 25 years he’s owned that property; both times in a Rolls Royce he was in pulling out of a back driveway while I jogged by. He was not friendly. He didn’t wave, didn’t greet me, and didn’t offer me Jello or a Jello shot. (You know because I might have been thirsty as I was running.) But, that doesn’t mean my opinion of his actions has any more merit than anyone’s.

It’s a funny thing, our perception of our celebrity heroes and how much we think we know them despite never having met them. So, when they fall we feel they have let us down personally. In some ways we are even angrier with them than we are with people we actually do know who let us down (You know, like my family!). Is Bill Cosby’s attack on women (alleged, again) any more heinous than any other serial rapist’s crimes? No, those crimes are abhorrent no matter who commits them. Yet, because he’s famous, it somehow seems to be worse. (Not to the victims. I feel quite sure that any victim of a violent crime is horrified regardless of who committed the act, famous or not.)

There is a difference between celebrities and politicians we elect, however. When I vote for you, you and I have made a pact of sorts. You’ve told me you’ll take the office and work hard to uphold the image while you’re doing the work. I don’t have to know you personally to be a part of that agreement or to expect you to hold up your end of the bargain. We don’t make any pact with the actors we hold in high esteem. We somehow just believe they are the good people they portray. Politicians tell us about their character and want us to believe them. Actors just play act a character, we have no reason to believe they are anything like the parts they play.

So, as we here in the U.S. enter into an election year, (I know, you’re thinking it already seems like this election has been going on forever.) I’m counting on learning more about the politicians vying for my vote so that I can enter a pact with the one I think won’t let me (or the world) down. Bill Cosby may get a great deal of the news coverage this year but honestly, even though he’s my neighbor, I don’t really care what happens to him. I do care about his accusers getting the justice as they deserve. His fame and notoriety don’t interest me and they shouldn’t keep his accusers from getting justice. I just don’t care about him just because he’s nearby and he’s famous.  If I’m running by and he offers me a drink, I’ll probably just keep going.


14 Responses to “I Am Bill Cosby’s Neighbor?

  • Interesting post, Debby. Whether Cosby is innocent or guilty, the whole thing is sad. He was such a shining star.

    • It’s sad but it would be sad even if he were a nobody doing these horrible things. We just think it’s like someone we know doing this but, really, we don’t. We just like to pay attention to the famous, I guess.

  • It seems I can count on one hand high-ranking politicians who don’t seem duplicitous. What a shame.

  • Elayne Aion
    4 years ago

    It’s not just that we expect more from celebrities, and sometimes we do, but when Cosby offered himself as a public moralist, expounding on what was right and wrong, he invited us to expect more from him.
    In the same way, we believe we can expect more from someone who preaches from the moral high ground than someone who just plays great basketball.
    Those who judge others’ morals so publicly, either based on their religion or other beliefs, invite that high standard. When they fall, we are all the more outraged, and I think we have a right to be.

    • While I agree with you in part, I think our reverence of him had more to do with the parts he played than anything he ever said as himself. However I do agree his opinions of what is right and wrong are now and have always been meritless and infuriating.

      • https://youtu.be/_Gh3_e3mDQ8

        Google bill cosby pound cake speech. It wasn’t just the roles he played, he pontificated at every opportunity.

        • He did and honestly, I always found that aspect of him offensive. Maybe that’s why I was not surprised when these allegations surfaced, I didn’t think that highly of him to begin with. However, part of my point is this: I don’t know any of these rich and famous people well enough to be surprised by anything they might do as their true selves.

  • It seems that we tend to put celebrities on some kind of pedestal. As you say, we think we know them, but we only know the characters they play, or the carefully crafted images and personalities that they convey. That is why it is sometimes so difficult to believe that they have committed such awful crimes. I am still reeling from the Rolf Harris case as he always ‘appeared’ to be such a nice guy! I hope that if these women are telling the truth, then Bill Cosby gets the punishment he deserves.

  • …let’s be frank about what very wealthy people , politicians and many famous celebrities are capable of getting away with …and many do with impunity…they live by a different precept than the rest of us because their status allows them to circumvent the law and in many cases have laws written just to benefit…it’s rare , but some get caught in a mess too big or too egregious to suppress , which produces a karmic backlash so strong that it must be reckoned with. The strange thing about Bill Cosby was that at the same time he was secretly taking sexual advantage of these young women , he was publicly chastising the black community for its conduct and especially young black women for their sexual indiscretions…

    • It’s all about extremes in our society; we laud the actions of the rich and chastise the actions of the poor way too often. I totally agree with your description of the karmic backlash of extremely egregious behavior in the famous and powerful. I admired Cosby when I was younger and he was on “I Spy” and seemed cool, but as I saw more of him interviewed over the years, I got a hypocrite vibe that was bothersome. Just one of the reasons these allegations were not shocking to me.

  • I lived for a short time on a Kibbutz in Israel where everyone knew everyone’s business , down to a very personal level…to them , an understandable means of security… It was culture shock for those of us coming from a large metropolitan area where anonymity is the norm…I must admit , coming from a “tight ” neighborhood and being the free spirit that I am , I had less problem with it than other Americans there , whose apparent discomfort with this blatant infringement on their privacy made their stay rather brief. The neighborhood I grew up in ( you know some people from here , Deb ) was had a healthy mix of both , we knew a lot about each other and each others families. There was a certain comfort and security in it. If anyone was acting strange or secretively, people would become suspicious. There was a general awareness and responsibility to maintain decency in our community. A person like Bill Cosby would have been under too much scrutiny to have fooled anyone here. I’m sure this still exists in some places in America…but not many, anymore…

    • Yes, in the 60s we really did know a great deal (maybe too much!) about our neighbors. I live now in a house I’ve lived in for more than 30 years, in community I chose for its diversity and what I thought would be its closeness. Alas, that’s not what we got. We know and really like our next door neighbors but hardly know the people across the street and I couldn’t name every family on the block as I could when I was a child. Many in our community are trying to build a closeness, to capitalize on the human resources Cheltenham offers which makes it quite a bit different from every other town just outside the city. But, it’s a hard sell. We’re trying to build a future for this township that just may not be what most people want as they prefer the anonymity of invisibility. I think it’s a shame.

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