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Cosby, Mama June, and the "Teflon Touch"
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
Some celebrities can survive scandal because they have what I call the “Teflon Touch.” No matter what they do, they survive and forge on. Seems like there’s always a scandal going on, which in a twisted way, is reassuring. Even the rich and famous are capable of trashy, questionable, screwed-up behavior. Poor people have Jerry Springer, rich people have reality shows. Or, if they don’t have a show, a handy paparazzo always seems to be available to snap an embarrassing picture—either a starlet without makeup (or panties) or some unfortunate facial expression.
For some celebrities though, it’s allegations. Bill Cosby, one of America’s favorite sitcom dads, has had a few women come forward to say that he drugged and raped them. Or, if they weren’t raped, they were fondled. True, these incidents happened a long time ago, but if these actually happened, I find it a bit disturbing. Cos will survive this—it’s not like he’s a priest who molested some kids. But it shows how some people are like Teflon—nothing sticks. The women bringing forth the allegations were young and attractive, and trying to get somewhere with their careers. These incidents happened in the 1970s and 1980s, and one happened in 2004. He settled a lawsuit about that incident in 2006.
Thirteen women have come forward with similar stories of being drugged and assaulted. Some of the stories sound the same—young women, either aspiring actresses or models, and Bill Cosby is taking notice of you. In the 1980s, of course, he was gold. I’m sure to have Cosby say hello to you must have felt like a ray of sunlight beaming down on your head, and maybe a choir of angels were singing in the background too. To have him ask about your career goals and take an interest in you must have been a heady feeling indeed. But part of the problem of being young means you are not sure how the world works. People are critical of young women who end up in situations like this, but if you aren’t sure how the game is played, how do you know if it’s right or wrong? You don’t. But to have a baker’s dozen of women say, “hey, this happened to me too,” it doesn’t look good. But I doubt this will hurt him very much. Advantage: rich successful, funny, cuddly man. Slate magazine made the assertion that the reason no one is making a big deal of this is because, like the incidents themselves, Cosby is a relic of the past.
On the other hand, we have June Shannon, a.k.a. “Mama June,” of Toddlers and Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo fame. She never attended Temple University and certainly doesn’t have a PhD. in anything, although she might be able to score some CLEP credit in White Trash Studies. But word on the street is that she’s dating a child molester, having dumped Sugar Bear, father of Honey Boo Boo. A quick check online shows that an ambulance was called to her home, because Sugar Bear, a.k.a. Mike Thompson, passed out because of all the recent stress going on in his family. It’s one thing to be dumped by your woman, but when you’re dumped, and the woman is dating a child molester, that’s a special level of bringdown.
I’ve never watched an entire episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, because I’m afraid I’d either get sick to my stomach, or else I’d get hooked on the show in some sort of quasi-anthropological way. From the looks of things, Mama June is not getting much sympathy. Becoming a grandmother in your early thirties says something, as does being hugely overweight. Even though being a young granny and morbidly obese is something that is more and more common, we prefer our television stars (even the reality show people) to be reasonably attractive, and if they are heavy, they’d better be trying to lose weight. Mama June has committed at least two sins (and probably more, but not being a fan of the show, I can only speculate what they would be) which means that because she is who she is, she’ll be further condemned. However, if you watch the show on a regular basis, are you really surprised at this most recent development? TLC, which has cancelled the show, is going to pay the children, but not Mama June.
How is this going to play out? I can only wonder. But I think Cosby is going to get more attention for his declarations that black people are not pulling themselves up by their boot straps and that rap music is bad. The women bringing these allegations against him were adult women at the time of the incidents. Already, there are people wondering why some of them persisted in hanging around him even after these women knew something had happened to them. Whether any of them will ever get closure, or restitution, remains to be seen. And Cosby will look back at America from whatever stage he’s currently on, scowling and making funny faces and people will cheer. We don’t like to think of Cosby, Dr. Huxtable, the pudding pop guy, as being a sexual predator. One woman coming forward is one thing. Thirteen? Doesn’t look good. It makes us uncomfortable. So we’ll ignore it.
As for Mama June’s fate, she might slip back into oblivion, a modern day Scarlet Letter wearing cultural stereotype that will have to figure out a way to make a living. Or maybe Fox will offer her a new show, called Mothers and Molesters that will put her and her brood back into the spotlight, saving her from having to run a cash register at Wal-mart, or applying for disability for her “forklift foot” problem. We can only hope.