Monday, February 17, 2014

Scandals involving Woody Allen and Bill Cosby treated very differently

As is completely obvious from my last few blog posts, I'm fascinated by this whole Woody Allen vs Dylan Farrow saga and how it's playing out in the media. So I've been looking for info about it on a regular basis. Last night while Googling I stumbled upon an article that mentioned a similar scandal involving another famous comedian, Bill Cosby. Apparently it has been getting a bit of coverage lately because of the ongoing Woody Allen issue.

What happened was this: Starting close to a decade ago several women went on the record to accuse Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them. His alleged modus operandi often involved stealthily placing drugs in their drinks! After some legal wrangling that involved the paying of a settlement he managed to make the unseemly business go away.

Even though this scandal was reported when it first unfolded, this is the first I've heard of it. So there was hardly an international media feeding frenzy going on back then. Nor is there now, by the way.

This seems very odd to me, particularly when you consider all the publicity given to the Allen-Farrow saga. And remember, the present kerfuffle is basically a rehashing of what went on 20 years ago. There have not been any new revelations in it. (Also, at the time the courts found him innocent of the charges, concluding that Dylan had probably been coached in what to say, or had concocted the story herself.)

That said, there are many people who believe he was guilty anyway. And they may be right. But the disparity between the two stories in the level of media interest is quite remarkable. While sexually assaulting an adult woman is not as heinous as the sexual abuse of a seven year old girl, it's still a very serious crime. And this accusation didn't just come from one woman, but several. Then there's the fact that he paid a settlement. Cosby's guilt seems almost certain while Allen's seems quite unlikely. Given Cosby's immense fame, you really have to wonder why we haven't heard more about this whole issue.

I think there are a couple of reasons why we haven't. Firstly, it could have something to do with the different personas of the two comics. Woody Allen played a sex obsessed neurotic for decades. And he was clearly drawing from key aspects of his own personality. His lust for much younger women was obvious from the plots of his movies (most notably Manhattan) and of course there was the whole romance with Soon-Yi Previn. Then there's the fact that he just looks like he could be a paedophile. So it doesn't take much to make you believe that he actually is.

Cosby, on the other hand, never obsessed about sex in his comedy routines. They were all about being a poor black kid in "the projects" or being a daggy dad who was amused by his adorable children and wife. Given the lovable, fatherly image that he painstakingly created, you just can't imagine him slyly spiking young women's drinks and sexually assaulting them when they were out cold, or close to it.

Then there's the racial aspect. Could it be that many in the mainstream media, being overewhelmingly of the liberal persuasion, are just too frightened of covering the story for fear of being perceived as racist? I think this could have quite a bit to do with it ...

What do you think? Any other ideas?

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