Film and TV

Probable Cos: Bill Cosby Admits To Drugging Women For Sex

How's your week going? Probably better than Bill Cosby's (and possibly Jared from Subway's), as newly-released court documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit alleging Cosby drugged and assaulted Andrea Constand in 2004, show the comedian admitting to obtaining drugs to give women he wanted to have sex with. And not as "gifts," as in, "Here's a bottle of Quaaludes. Care to have intercourse some time?"

While the documents don't prove Cosby committed the [checks Internet] 40+ assaults he's been accused of, they certainly make his former denials look like, well, utter horseshit:

In a sworn deposition, Cosby answered questions from Constand's attorney, Dolores Troiani.

"When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Troiani asked.

"Yes," Cosby replied.

"Did you ever give any of those young women the Quaaludes without their knowledge?" Troiani asked.

Cosby's attorney objected and told him not to answer the question.

These are documents which Cosby's lawyers — whom I now picture exactly like Nathan Thurm from Saturday Night Live — fought to keep from going public because Cosby isn't a "public person." U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno disagreed. In making his decision, Robreno cited Cosby's (in)famous "Pound Cake" speech, a rambling, incoherent rant that was as critical of "pants down around the crack" as it was seemingly supportive of police shooting certain young black men. More importantly, Robreno said it was sufficient justification for releasing the documents:

“This case, however, is not about Defendant’s status as a public person by virtue of the exercise of his trade as a televised or comedic personality. Rather, the defendant has donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime.”

Put another way, and I can't remember who wrote this on Twitter so, sorry if it was you: "Bill Cosby was telling us to stop selling drugs and pull our pants up while he was drugging women and pulling their pants down." The hypocrisy on display would be hilarious, in a "rabidly anti-gay politician outed after posting dick pics to Grindr" kind of way, if it wasn't in service to something even more horrific.

It should be clear by now to everyone, even Cosby's die-hard defenders (some of whom are finally abandoning the barricades) and the delusional who maintained accusations from dozens of unrelated women was some kind of conspiracy, that the guy is a fucking monster. The deposition is related to an assault in 2004, but there are accusations dating back to 1965. 42 women have come forward, but from what we know about how often rape is actually reported, no rational human being can possibly believe this is the total extent of his crimes. After all, through most of the 1970s and '80s, Cosby was beloved by millions. How hard is it to believe other victims would be intimidated by this persona, to say nothing of how his legal team went after the accusers and how the entertainment industry closed ranks to shield him from scrutiny?

It only took three decades, but all that finally appears to be falling apart, which leads to a less important but still relevant question: what does all this mean for Cosby's legacy?

Well, if he had much of one left, I'd say the effect might be significant, but the man's been largely out of the spotlight for two decades, only occasionally resurfacing to perform or lob another nonsensical water balloon of decency at people who'd mostly tired of being lectured by an admitted adulterer back in the 1990s. Cosby, his latest network show, was canceled in 2000 after four seasons, and his Nickelodeon animated series Little Bill ended in 2004.

Bill Cosby is 77 years old, and I suspect most young people, if they're aware of him at all, only know him from the allegations of sexual assault (remember "Go ahead, meme me?"). And since he's been out of the limelight so long, it isn't like cropping him from the current pop culture landscape will be all that hard. I know NBC scrapped plans for a new show late last year, around the same time TV Land removed reruns of The Cosby Show from its schedule, and just yesterday Bounce announced they would pull repeats of his '90s sitcom. I think you can still watch Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on Amazon and On Demand, but I wouldn't put money on it being there after this week, and I wouldn't go hunting around for Leonard Part Six anytime soon.

Which is a pretty ridiculous sentence, in retrospect.

I'm not one of those who'll claim to have never liked Cosby. Sure, I sneered as I walked past the family TV on Thursday nights in the 1980s, clad in a Black Flag T-shirt and eager to score beer from the Chinese grocer who didn't check IDs, but I was an unrepentant Saturday morning Fat Albert watcher in my much younger days (go to 38:08 for "Dope is for Dopes"), and even people who wouldn't pour cat urine on the man if he was on fire have to acknowledge that Bill Cosby: Himself is one of the finest stand-up performances of the last century.

Ultimately, Baby Boomer nostalgia and Gen X memories will suffer the most (after Cosby himself, who's being deserted by former supporters and business partners at near-Trump levels). Cosby's age combined with Hollywood's demonstrated willingness to ignore crimes committed by its anointed ones (recall the A-listers giving Roman Polanski a standing O at the 2003 Oscars) mean nothing substantive is going to come of this. Cosby's latest tour will continue to limp along, even as Disney World removes a bust of him from its Hollywood Studios theme park. And for a man whose only apparent ambition was molding young minds, unwanted irrelevance and outright disdain may be the worst punishment of all. 

At least until they figure out a way to prosecute his sorry ass.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar