A Look Back Hannibal Buress' Role In Cosby Claims
The Internet might have broken after New York Magazine 's Bill Cosby story brought down the magazine's website, but the high traffic proves one thing: People are listening. It is truly groundbreaking that 35 of Cosby's accusers have come together to share their stories, and their portraits, with the magazine, putting faces to the names and numbers of the accusations. And, as the article opens, New York Mag reminds us of something very important: Comedian Hannibal Buress started this whole thing. Initial reports about the comedian allegedly sexually abusing women first came out in 2005, when Andrea Constand accused Cosby of drugging and raping her, but these allegations weren't spotlighted quite like they were in the past year, after Hannibal Buress called out Cosby for allegedly raping women during a standup set in October 2014. Buress' comments went viral, and it's crazy to think that his Cosby bit was what finally got the matter the attention it deserved.
In case you haven't seen the set, Buress jokes about Cosby thinking he has the authority to tell people to pull their pants up just because he had a successful sitcom in the '80s. He then adds, "Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches. I've done this bit onstage and people think I'm making it up. That sh*t is upsetting." Even though Buress has since admitted he never expected the reaction (and the threats) that followed, he definitely started something huge whether he meant to or not.
It's interesting that it was Buress, of all people, who was finally able to capture the public's attention when it came to Cosby. New York Mag points out in their article that "perhaps the most shocking thing wasn't that Buress had called Cosby a rapist; it was that the world had actually heard him." The world heard a comedian, but they didn't hear Constand or her accusations when she made them nearly 10 years earlier, something that's truly disheartening. I get it. Nobody wants to believe that a fatherly figure from such a culturally significant TV series like The Cosby Show is capable of such alleged horrifying actions, but when literally dozens of women are all telling such strikingly similar stories, those women can't be ignored — and no one should have to feel like they won't be heard when they decide to come forward with an allegation as serious as rape.
As former Playboy bunny Victoria Valentino said in the magazine, "A woman can not be believed for 30 years? But it takes one man?" It's unsettling how right she is. It should not have taken standup comedy to shed light on claims as serious as these, but that's exactly what happened. Good for Buress for using his fame to bring light to the allegations against Cosby, but it's a shame that's what it took.
It's heartbreaking that it's taken so long for these women and their stories to be heard, but I'm glad to see that it's happening now and that their portraits and stories have been featured so prominently. Maybe this will remind the world that we need to start listening to women when they claim they've been raped — even if their rape claims surround a warm, funny TV dad who many of us grew up with. And if it does, it's awesome that Buress had a part in it, but it's even more amazing that these women have had the courage and strength to continue telling their stories, even when they've been shut down before. It's the only way change is ever going to happen.
As for Cosby, his lawyer issued a statement in regards to the allegations in November 2014, which reads,
Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.