Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let's Talk About Bill Cosby and Hannibal Buress

Comedian Bill Cosby has been accused of being a rapist by comedian Hannibal Burress who openly accused Cosby of such at a live performance recently. 

These are serious allegations that Buress has made that are based on stories that have surfaced by multiple women, notably Barbara Bowman who has accused Cosby of drugging and raping her at various times over a period of years.

Bill Cosby

Hannibal Burress

Barbara Bowman
Here is the video of Hannibal Burris in performance accusing Cosby of being a rapist

Burris is quoted as saying:

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the f----n’ smuggest old black man public persona that I hate. He gets on TV and says ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the '80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress also went on to say “That s--t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it ... when you leave here, Google 'Bill Cosby rape.' That s--t has more results than 'Hannibal Buress.'"

Apparently it offends Buress to the point where he says he hates 'smug old black men who have been on TV in the 80's' telling him what to do and how to act. 

I'm not sure what's so crazy about Bill Cosby telling young blacks to pull up their pants. Bill Cosby is talking about self respect and personal responsibility.

It's also not funny to outright accuse a man of rape, in fact it's downright slander unless Buress has proof that these allegations are in fact true. 

Googling Bill Cosby and rape proves nothing in a court of law.

I posted a link to a story on Facebook this morning which sparked a great conversation between myself and two of my friends who weighed in with terrific insight and opinions on the Cosby allegations.

The story which appeared as an op-ed piece in the Washington Post alleges that Cosby drugged and raped Ms. Bowman over several years from the time that she was an 18 year old up and coming star and Cosby was her mentor. Bowman also spoke to The Daily Mail in a long piece detailing her relationship with Cosby.

What my friends and I came away with after reading these pieces and discussing our thoughts in what turned out to be a great discussion was the obvious:

You just never know.

Now I'm not going to stick my head in the sand and say that Bill Cosby (or anyone for that matter) isn't capable of doing these horrendous deeds as alleged, but I do have my doubts.

It seems from reading all the stories (and I'm not going to get into all the details - please read them yourself and form your own opinions) that Mr. Cosby was likely not the most faithful husband in his marriage. This of course, is nothing new and certainly not anything worthy of scandal other than the obvious when it comes to anyone's marital indiscretions.

Being accused of drugging and raping multiple women over a period of years is an entirely different story. And when there are multiple accusations, it does lend itself to the old adage: 'Where there's smoke there's fire.'

That said, something with Ms. Bowman's stories just doesn't add up.

Barbara is certain she was drugged by Cosby. And she believes raped by him too.

'I know for sure he forced himself multiple times upon me and since he needed to create an environment in which I could not fight him, I can't in all honesty say that I recall penetration because at that time I was in a vacant state of mind, as I was often drugged and brainwashed.

'Whatever drug he gave me, didn't allow me to think clearly when it was over and done with. It didn't register that I should be panicking. It was like amnesia almost. It was like what a lobotomy would do to you. I couldn't even think clearly when I was awake. I was vacant.'

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Also stated in the Daily Mail piece:

The following years marked success for Barbara. She starred in more than 30 national TV commercials, including ones for McDonalds, Miller Light and Holiday Inn. She also had guest spots on Saturday Night Live, One Life to Live, and All My Children. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued to excel in film and TV.

'But I never got the career that I was meant to have.'

Eventually a girlfriend convinced her to meet with a lawyer in 1987. 

 I never got the career I was meant to have
'He laughed me out of the office. He said I was delusional, ridiculous, making these stories up. No one believed me. I called Gloria Allred. No one would listen. They thought I was making up stuff to get money. I never asked for or was given a penny. That's not the point. But it shut me up. I didn't need one more authority figure to tell me I was full of s***.'

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"I never got the career I was meant to have."

As one of my Facebook friends put so well:

In the entertainment industry, there is no such thing as a "career you were meant to have." That's the bottom line. You get the career you get. If it were about TALENT, the Kardashians would never have a show, right? So, Bowman saying "they thought I was making this up to get money" is misleading. "The career she was meant to have" translates directly to money. I continue to go back to the sentiment that every woman who cries wolf adds cynicism to the mix when another woman really is raped. That is the real crime here.

I couldn't agree more. It's interesting to note that high profile attorney Gloria Allred declined to represent Bowman as she herself stated in the Daily Mail article,

This bio is from Allred's own website:

Fearless lawyer, feminist, activist, television and radio commentator, warrior, advocate, and winner – Gloria Allred is all of these things and more. Voted by her peers as one of the best lawyers in America, and described by TIME Magazine as "one of the nation's most effective advocates of family rights and feminist causes," Allred has devoted her career to fighting for civil rights across boundaries of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, and social class.

I would think that if there were enough ammo to go after Bill Cosby, Gloria Allred would have been all over it.

I also find Ms. Bowman's statement that she 'never got the career she was meant to have' very troubling.

As my friend pointed out, it smells of blackmail.

I honestly hope that all of this is untrue. Bill Cosby seems to have been a standup guy with a great reputation. And as a parent who suffered the loss of a child, is not immune to tragedy. 

If this proves to be untrue, then let's hope that false accusations such as these are given the proper treatment because it makes it much harder for real victims to get justice.

If this does prove to be true, then let's hope that Cosby gets what he deserves.

Mr. Cosby may indeed be a 'serial rapist' as alleged. The truth is we honestly never truly know who anyone is unless you are close to them and know them well enough to refute such allegations. This is especially true when it comes to celebrities, athletes, politicians, or anyone with notoriety, money and power.

You just don't know, but the more I think about this the story becomes more about Hannibal Buress coming out and flatly accusing Bill Cosby of rape than the story about Cosby and his accusers. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Many Faces of Nelson Van Alden

If you missed out on HBO's great series Boardwalk Empire I urge you to at least check out a couple of the Season 1 episodes where actor Michael Shannon was simply brilliant.

I'm not here to single out Shannon as the best of the series by a longshot. There were so many terrific performances over the five season lifespan of Boardwalk, especially by lead Steve Buscemi who I can't give enough credit to in his role as the show's central character Enos 'Nucky' Thompson.

You may have seen Shannon in movies such as Groundhog Day where he has a small role as a newlywed

Or in the Superman movies as the evil General Zod (I'm gonna admit, I haven't really seen any of these new Superman movies, but I'm sure Shannon was awesome)

I think it's safe to say that Shannon really got to spread his wings over the 5 seasons in Boardwalk. His character was more or less reduced to a sideshow after a while (no spoilers here) but was integral in the fabric of the story in its entirety. And rightfully so.

I believe that Van Alden may have been a character that the producers and writers may have originally considered disposable, but found Shannon's portrayal as the quirky, uptight and occasionally psychotic government agent to be indispensable.

In short, Michael Shannon (as were many others) perfectly cast.

One of the greatest uptight characters ever
In Season 1, Van Alden leads a raid to rain on Nucky's parade during a Prohibition era St. Patrick's Day dinner with many local dignitaries to show he's the new boss in town. Van Alden and his agents burst through the door and he instructs the agents to "shoot anyone who tries to flee."

And in his most inimitable way after arresting a patsy to show Nucky he's watching tells the remaining guests to "Leave the premises in an orderly fashion."

This is one of the many moments Van Alden provides throughout the series where he delivers a stoic and stiff line which is usually dripping in irony or sarcasm given the moment.

You can actually buy a tshirt of that line (albeit a pretty crappy one)

Nothing is better than his now famous line "This has not been well thought out" in one of the final episodes in Season 5. (again, no spoilers here)

Here's to Michael Shannon's portrayal of one of the great ironic characters, Nelson Van Alden