Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:
This week was my topic, and I said: Bill Cosby is all over the news for his alleged inappropriate activities. Many people struggle with accepting that Dr. Huxtable could have done the things of which he is accused. So I ask this: Is there a celebrity scandal that would really upset you, simply because you love that celebrity/hold him or her in high esteem? Has it already happened? If there’s no celebrity, is there a person in your real life like that? Here’s my take:
Growing up, I was a fan of Bill Cosby. I spent many Saturday mornings stuffing my face with sweetened cereal listening to Bill’s baritone “hey hey hey” while watching Fat Albert. And, of course, I loved the Cosby show – who didn’t? There was even a character named Denise! The man performed hilarious stand-up comedy and hawked Jell-O Pudding Pops with his big, goofy, contagious grin. What wasn’t to like?
But in all honesty, I never really thought about Bill Cosby as Bill Cosby, the person, the man behind the charming face. Later, as I aged and priorities changed, I began to admire him for urging people to take advantage of opportunities in life instead of playing the victim card. Respectable. And I applauded when he urged men to stay with their pregnant girlfriends, arguing that children grieve the absence of fathers, that the loss affects them for life.
And then his illegitimate daughter popped up, and he lost just a bit of his authority, to me, anyway. But that wasn’t too big a hit for me since I’d never really held Dr. Cosby “up” on a pedestal in the first place.
As I grew, I crafted a short list of celebrated people who I considered so “special,” so good, any scandal related to them would have broken a tiny piece of my heart. That list didn’t include Cosby; instead, it featured other famous men: Bill Clinton, Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks, and Ron Howard.
Yeah, I know.
It didn’t take long before President Clinton came a’tumblin down. (I won’t rehash his well-publicized undoing here – just picture the Gap dress and be done with it.) I can’t say I was crushed by Bill’s bad behavior, but I was certainly disappointed. I mean, Monica Lewinsky, really? Though I continued to like him (and still do), his bad choices knocked him down a few notches in my eyes. My list was one good guy shorter.
Soon after, the stories about Michael Jordan started to appear. The first came from my (then) brother-in-law, who was hired to do some phone installation work at Air Jordan’s home. Michael’s (then) wife, Juanita, was gracious and welcoming to my BIL. But then Michael came home. He took one look at my BIL and turned to Juanita and said, “Who the hell is he?” Ouch. Then the news stories appeared: the gambling, the infidelity, the temper. I went from really liking the beloved athlete who shares my birthday to feeling mild disgust at the mere mention of his name. I no longer wanted to be like Mike. I was down another hero.
I admired Tom Hanks not for any particular reason but simply because he was America’s Nice Guy. I suppose he still is. I even admired his marriage to his wife, Rita Wilson . . . until I found out they started their relationship while Tom was still married to his first wife. Now, I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination (Catholic school years aside), but the way Tom met/courted his wife just didn’t mesh – to me – with his All-American façade. Another one bites the dust.
And then there was one.
Obviously, I survived the decimation of my list relatively unscathed – though I will say that any poor behavior on the part of Richie Cunningham might push me to my breaking point. I need at least one well-behaved All-American boy to admire.
I’m guessing a few of you are surprised to find a certain name missing from my list: Jon Bon Jovi. But I never considered Jon as a contender. I’ve never viewed Jon through that All-American boy lens. Maybe it’s because he lives in the rock ‘n roll world, but I’ve never really gotten too upset when I’ve heard something negative about him. When my (then) husband told me he saw Jon being dismissive to a gushing fan at a restaurant in New York, I shrugged. When Jon himself admitted he hasn’t been a faithful saint, I smiled (sorry – I’m still smarting from that marriage). When I researched the history of the band and learned Jon could be a bit shrewd in his business relationships, I shrugged it off. I don’t look at Jon the way I’d once looked at Michael Jordan or Bill Clinton or even Tom Hanks. I view him through a more realistic lens: I embrace him with open arms (I wish), flaws and all. I suppose this is partly because Jon himself doesn’t hold himself out as the poster child for squeaky clean, the ambassador of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Those other men have, in large degree. Jon openly lives the life of a musician – warts (and leather and long hair and groupies) and all. I respect that. I like that. It’s part of his charm.
Some people have derided me for holding people up on the proverbial pedestal. And that’s their right. But I don’t think I’m really engaging in hero worship. Instead, I think I’m merely searching for that good in the morass of not so good. We are inundated on a daily basis with the bad, the raunchy, the wrong. We see images of murders and murderers, of greed and unrest, of crime and illness. Of the Kardashians! We all need the face of the good guy: the celebrity who worked his way up from nothing and stepped on no one on the way up. The guy who hasn’t let fame go to his head. The faithful husband. The generous benefactor. The nice guy. We simply don’t have enough of that in our lives, so when we lose another, we react. It hurts.
I completely understand the fans of Bill Cosby who resist believing he is guilty of any of the charges currently lobbed against him. (And, frankly, they should resist, as he is still innocent until proven otherwise.) I know the feeling of not wanting to believe something about someone, even someone I admired from afar, and so I empathize. I refuse to judge Dr. Cosby’s guilt or innocence, as that’s not my job, but it’s undeniable that his once squeaky clean image has taken one hell of a hit already. It’s a shame – we are down another hero. And we can’t even console ourselves with Cosby re-runs or Pudding Pops, as those are gone, too.
While I was writing this, an old song popped into my head, one I haven’t heard or thought about in years. It is sung by Stevie Wonder and Charlene (the queen of my cheesy song references), and it’s called Used to Be. A few lines stand out because, to me, they sum up exactly why we need Ron Howard to keep it clean, why we mourned the loss of John F. Kennedy, Jr., why two generations are shaking their heads at the Bill Cosby headlines. Why we need heroes.
Superman was killed in Dallas.
There’s no love left in the palace.
Someone took the Beatles’ lead guitar. . . .
Used to be the hero of the ballgame,
Took the time to shake the loser’s hand.
Used to be that failure only meant you didn’t try,
In a world where people gave a damn. . . .
Used to be a knight in shining armor,
Didn’t have to own a shiny car.
Dignity and courage were the measure of a man,
Not the drugs he needs to hide the scar. . . .
But I believe that love can save tomorrow,
Believe the truth can make us free.
Someone tried to say it, then we nailed Him to a cross –
I guess it’s still the way it used to be.