I was recently asked to opine on why Michael Jackson was accepted back into our society as an icon while Bill Cosby is being eviscerated in the public eye. Why, was the question. Why did this happen? It’s a loaded question with multiple answers that force us to be uncomfortable with these facts.
Why was Michael Jackson welcomed back into our lives in a loving sense, where Bill Cosby makes us sick?
Perhaps it’s because Michael Jackson was acquitted of the crimes alleged against him? It was the prosecutor's responsibility to present all evidence and prove beyond reasonable doubt that Michael Jackson molested little boys, and a jury of his peers did not think the prosecutor did such.
Maybe it’s because, like with Cosby, we really do not, did not want to believe that this icon was actually molesting the boys he was trying to help. In both situations, we don’t want to truly believe these men did these horrific acts. With Michael, we made a mistake and let him live among us again. We as a nation are realizing that sexual abuse of any sort is not ok. Maybe we realized that we have more power as a nation if we don’t sweep rape and sexual abuse under the rug, no matter who you are. I hope we realized that you can’t be drugging women and rapping them, no matter who you are, or who you think you are. Maybe, because we learned from our mistakes on how the public handled the Jackson case, we’ve put our foot down, and won’t sweep this under the rug any longer.
Then, you have to think about how each played out in the public, in the media. Jackson was plagued by molestation allegations in ‘93 and ‘05. He settled in ‘93, with the court finding that there was not enough evidence to go to trial or pursue criminal action against him. Ok. Cool, that’s settled. Right? Cool, let's watch more Michael videos starring child stars. Michael's back in.
Again in 2005, he is acquitted of all 14 charges, and we assume that these people who accuse Michael Jackson of child molestation are out for a pay day, perhaps. The public was more than happy to forget these situations that followed Michael around as they opened their wallets to purchase tickets to the This is It Tour, which never came to fruition as Michael died before he could go preform the tour. Now he is a dead icon, his music still being played on family radio stations with his seedy past pushed to the side.
With Cosby, the way his story played out in public was similar, in the beginning. In 2002, he beat allegations of sexual abuse with a settlement. Other accusations went unfounded. 13 women refused to testify against Bill Cosby. There was no way America's Dad drugged and rapped women. Right? Cool, let’s laugh at his sweaters and funny puddin pop voice. He was back in, because we did not want to even think about Cosby being a viscous, criminally hard core rapist.
For 10 more years we let Bill Cosby in our homes. In October 2014, Comedian Hannibal Buress Made some jokes about Bill Cosby being a rapist, and it was like the nation as a whole was like ‘Oh, Yea, Hey, Bill, could you actually explain some of this? ‘ . Then the women came out. 50 plus women came out to say that Bill Cosby did in fact drug and rape them. Some days, it was one woman, other days, 3 or 4 women came forward at once. A third of them hired Gloria Allred to represent and sue the pants of of Cosby. The nation wants answers, and the more questions we ask, the more repulsive the answers get.
Then, as if things couldn't get worse for Bill Cosby, you know, because the whole world thinks he is a rapist, at the very end of 2015, he is brought up on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania.
If Cosby is Acquitted of the crimes he is charged with, I still don’t think we will accept him back as America's Dad. The damage in the public eye has been too extensive for Bill Cosby to ever make a comeback, this time. Whereas with Michael Jackson, his death brought iconic status for him. Cosby isn’t so lucky. Even if Cosby did die, god forbid, he would die a tarnished man, with nothing but the allegations to remember.
The cases are and were played out for the public to see, day in and day out. They became a part of America's history, and the public's opinion isn’t easily swayed back to where it was before these sex scandals.
Perhaps, the reason why we accepted Jackson back into our worlds, and not Cosby is because we finally agree as a nation that women are worth fighting for when these things happen. Jackson's sex scandals happened and he was acquitted, and public opinion changed, but didn't shatter the way it has for Cosby. And 50 different victims didn’t come forward for Jackson. Allegedly molesting children is despicable, absolutely awful. But factually raping 50 women is just even more heinous. Hopefully, the reasons why we will not and cannot tolerate and accept the behaviors Bill Cosby has perpetrated are reasons focused towards knowledge and common sense. Hopefully those reasons focus on human rights, and acknowledgement. There is a feeling that globally, we have shunned Cosby, and hopefully he is held accountable for any wrong doing he may have done.
Hopefully the victims and anyone hurt finds closure, and we heal as a nation from this. Both Men were and stand accused of heinous crimes, men who we looked up to. It was the right time to put our foot down and say no more to the multiple and disgusting crimes against women. Hopefully, next time something like this happens it won’t take almost 20 years to clear up.