Bill Cosby’s Treatment of Lisa Bonet Should Have Been an Early Sign of His Behavior
Lisa Bonet, president and CEO of bohemian blackness, has stayed relatively silent about the Bill Cosby accusations for the past few years. It is not a secret that Bonet and Cosby ended their working relationship on bad terms, so it may have been to avoid any unnecessary blowback. However, she’s now spoken with Net-a-Porter about her feelings on Cosby.
Bonet claims that, while she did not have any sexual harassment experience with Cosby, there was always something negative about him that she sensed. “There was just energy. And that type of sinister, shadow energy cannot be concealed […] And if I had anything more to reveal then it would have happened a long time ago. That’s my nature. The truth will set you free.” Bonet also adds, “I don’t need to say, ‘I told you so.’ I just leave all that to karma and justice and what will be.”
Despite not being sexually harassed by Cosby, how she was treated by him was also cruel and sexist and evident of an abuse of power that should remind everyone that work equality means having women behind the scenes, as well as on.
The tension started when she did sex scenes with Mickey Rourke in 1987’s Angel Heart and appeared nude on the cover of Interview to promote the film.
However, the true abuse of power came when Bonet got pregnant, something her Different World co-star, Debbie Allen, spoke about in a video.
As Allen explains in the video, Bonet came to her saying that she was pregnant, and knowing that Cosby had negative reactions to on-set pregnancies in the past, they thought it was best that they go together. Allen was also the executive producer of the show at that point and, when put on the spot, spun an idea of how they could use the pregnancy to tell a larger storyline for young black mothers:
I explained to him how I wanted to use it on the show because that would be a great thing. To see a girl who’s upper class kid, having a baby, not married because she didn’t want to be married…and the girls could root for her. I was explaining all that we could do. Well honey I was just blowing smoke and didn’t know it (laughs). He listened to it.
We started talking about stories and then immediately…maybe about two or three weeks later he was like “You know what Debbie? No. She’s pregnant, ‘Denise Huxtable’ is not pregnant, Lisa Bonet is pregnant not Denise. So no…no you can’t have it, no we’re not gonna do it, no.” So he took her back, I was so mad at him, I wanted to take her, but I understand, he just wanted her back. So she left us [the Different World cast] to go back home [to the Huxtable house], she ended up getting married on the show and whatever else happened over there.
Cosby had a vision and I guess it was difficult for him to interrupt his creative vision for something outside of his control. I wish they could have figured out a way to make it work, just like they did when Phylicia Rashad became pregnant, although Bill did blame Phylicia’s then husband Ahmad for ruining the show because he got her pregnant. That was a unique and somewhat odd reaction to her pregnancy, but again, Cosby obviously had a vision in mind and anything external interrupted that for him. (via Urban Intellectuals)
This kind of mentality sounds very familiar. Joss Whedon notoriously fired Charisma Carpenter after she got pregnant because it messed with his storyline, and much of the crap we got by way of Black Widow’s Age of Ulton storyline was also done because ScarJo was pregnant at the time.
Even if Cosby was opposed to Denise being pregnant, there were ways they could have handled that without it being an issue. Lisa Bonet was not Denise. She was a human being who had a career and a life and a fine-ass-husband in Lenny Kravitz (and currently now with Jason Mamoa—dating goals).
The idea that Cosby wanted that kind of power over his female leads is gross and deeply, deeply sexist. It shows a lack of respect for their bodies and their bodily autonomy as women. Just the way they felt the need to have to groom themselves before telling him this feels so … ugh.
Lisa Bonet was eventually fired in 1991 for “creative differences,” but if these prior incidents are any indicator, the difference was Lisa Bonet wanted to be treated like a person, not a character. That should have been more of a problem then. Hopefully, it’ll be seen as more of a problem now.
(via Vulture, image: ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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