My weekly TV column is up at Torontoist.
Oh, The Cleveland Show. Giving a minor supporting character a spin-off show. Like making a Family Matters spin-off starring Waldo Geraldo Faldo.
Which reminds me of a thought I had about the idea of the “Cosby Effect” in the 2008 presidential election. I’d be happy to share my thoughts, if people are interested.
I didn’t know Canada had Crazy Cat Lady programming. Y’all are weird up there.
Cosby effect in the 2008 election? I admit curiosity now.
malakim, the idea was that young people who grew up watching “The Cosby Show” on TV saw a responsible, respectable, educated black man in Bill Cosby’s character, Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Therefore they didn’t see a problem voting for a black man, namely Obama.
I disagree with the idea slightly. While I was working in (very conservative) Idaho, I reported about the local Democratic caucus. At the caucus, the most enthusiastic Obama supporters were teenagers, many who weren’t yet 18 but would be before the election. I am 25 years old, and even I don’t remember “The Cosby Show,” so they certainly didn’t.
So I thought about it. These young voters did grow up seeing a black role model on TV: Carl Winslow on “Family Matters.”
I still don’t think it made the difference in the election, but I think positive depictions in media do matter.
What do you mean, not enough cheerleaders in Lord of the Rings? What about Gimli, huh?
Galadriel needs pompoms.
And yeah, I don’t buy into the Cosby Show effect, but it is an interesting theory.
While The Cosby Show might be too far back there is The Fresh Prince of Bel Air where the parents are a lawyer/judge and history professor…
I hadn’t thought about that, LurkerWithout. That’s another good example.
Sidney Poitier, in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) admitted there would likely never be a black president. But, he would have settled for secretary of state.
Cosby is important. Never discount the importance of the Cos. He was one of the first black men to appear in mixed company on television (Playboy’s Penthouse show.) He intelligently (for the time) stayed away from race issues in his stand-up, (but did do a couple blaxploitation films). His childhood wasn’t necessarily a black childhood, just an urban one. From his stories, it seem’s like Cosby grew up a couple of blocks over from Sesame Street.
As an aside, we also can’t discount the importance of Sesame Street, still one of the most ethnically diverse shows on television.
Cosby opened the door for the portrayal of the black man as just another American, and this was really important. The Huxtables took that one step further. Again, the Cosby Show very rarely discussed racial issues. Over time, this lead to the acceptance by white audiences of Morgan Freeman and Dennis Haysbert as presidents of the United States.
I’ll allow Carl Winslow, but I think Uncle Phil is more important. Uncle Phil discussed race frequently. Every time Will got a little to cocky in his urban blackness, Phil would set him straight about what it means to be black. Phil marched with MLK. Phil fought the good fight — and won. Phil took the Cosby role of “Just another american but with dark skin,” and converted it to Black AND American. 95% of Cosby Show episodes could have been just as good with whites playing all the roles. About 5% of Fresh Prince episodes would work that way.
Cos was the giant who’s shoulders Phil stood on.
Plus, if it weren’t for Bill Cosby, I wouldn’t get the theme for “Picture Pages” stuck in my head approximately a goddamn brazillion times a day.
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