Joey Bada$$'s Cosby defence shows how rape culture discredits women

Why has the rapper defended the comic? Because the reputation of a man is still worth more than the testimony of a woman – and stars stick together

Early on Monday morning, rapper Joey Bada$$ decided to enlighten the world about his feelings on Bill Cosby. Tweeting that Cosby was a father figure to him, Bada$$ accused the larger public of being susceptible to the media’s brainwashing. “I don’t fuck with the Bill Cosby slander. Ofcourse I’m always against a rapist but it’s just like yall EAT UP anything the media feeds yall ...” wrote the rapper. “You internet kids know NOTHING except what they put in front of you on these devices.” He of course cops a plea halfway through the rant that sure, Cosby’s a rapist, but there’s “always more to the story”.

This argument, as dry as three-day-old bread, is commonly used in situations such as this – when the behaviour of someone in real life shatters the fantasy of their TV persona. Despite this, it’s still unsettling to see Bada$$, who was born three years after the last episode of The Cosby Show aired, expressing such doublespeak. Bada$$ is right that the media has brainwashed many people, but chief among the brainwashed are those celebrities who rush to protect bad men – blaming the media coverage as they do so.

When stars claim that the media is trying to destroy someone famous, very often they are denying the testimony of a woman. In this case, there are 40 women saying that Cosby raped them. The tired patriarchal image of money-hungry women concocting a wild story simply to “ruin a man’s life” is the ultimate affirmation of rape culture.

Yet we have our childhood heroes, both male and female, telling us not to rush to snap judgments (though Whoopi Goldberg soon changed that tone!), reminding us that Cosby is black and therefore “automatically hated”. Even Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable, defended her onscreen husband against what she claimed was the destruction of his legacy – as if his cultural reputation is so much more important than what he actually will leave behind: the shattered lives of dozens of women.

When artists defend each other, they condescend to the general public. Sometimes they say it’s a “celebrity shakedown”, sometimes the motive is “just jealousy”, and when it’s a regular down-to-earth man accused of something terrible, it’s simply “a lie”. People like Joey Bada$$, being famous, like to suggest that they have greater insight into the case than the rest of us, while these women are just scheming liars.

Bada$$’s view is no more logical than the suggestions by the likes of Fox news that a man who slaughtered nine black people in church was just a victim of abuse. The doublespeak, which paints innocent dead black men as “thugs” and “previous offenders”, is exactly what destroys all those black lives that Bada$$ invokes in his rant. But when confronted by a TV dad being a predator, his logic fails him.

Bada$$ needs to consider the fact that depositions are not TV scripts. They are not written by entire teams of rooms with a season-long plot to consider. They are court-ordered truth. His “father figure” Cosby admitted to philandering, buying quaaludes – a drug so trashy and dangerous it became extinct – for sex, while paying off so-called “mistresses”.

What is the second layer to this story we have missed? How does Bada$$’s moral superiority about the media machine explain away behaviour that already demonstrates the gulf between Cosby and his TV role? Healthcliff Huxtable would never cheat on his wife, let alone purchase drugs to do it – not the father that punished Theo over a joint and cowered at Clair’s glare.

Dr Huxtable wouldn’t have approved of Bill Cosby. He wouldn’t approve of a world where a pill-pushing cheat’s life had more value than the women he abused. Bada$$ admonished the memes about Cosby, saying: “I don’t think the slander is funny ... he raped multiple women? OK. Do you think these women feel pleased when they see a meme on the internet bout what was really done to em?” At least these memes take the accusers seriously, whereas Bada$$ undermines these women.

So unfortunately, Joey Bada$$, you are part of the conspiracy to conflate a real man with an invisible one. A conspiracy of trying to maintain a culture in which the reputation of a man is worth more than the truth of a woman, and where the title of celebrity friend or fan elevates your opinion. The rest of us live in the real world, Joey, and can see that Bada$$’s conspiracy theory still stinks.


Judnick Mayard

The GuardianTramp

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