Say what you will about Bill Cosby. You can believe what you want to about his personal life. It is my personal opinion that nothing he could have ever done or will ever do will discredit the fact that he portrayed one of the greatest African-American males in television history. Dr. Huxtable was about as good as it gets. No, there were not many episodes that highlighted his relationship with God. Yes, he had poor eating habits. For the most part, if I was trying to recall the negatives about his character, those were the worst aspects of his character that I can currently think of. By virtue that he was a human being, it is understood that he wasn’t perfect and had his issues just like everyone else. The Cosby show just did an amazing job at refusing to highlight or use character flaws as the selling point for their show. Dr. Huxtable was a faithful husband. He was a present, active, and loving father. He was an accepting father-in-law. He was an exceptional son. He was a good friend. He was an elite athlete. He was a doctor who married a lawyer. He was extremely humorous. What more could you ask for?
Fast forward to 2016 and it is rare to find an African American male on television who does not carry plenty of baggage and struggle with major issues. Nowadays, drama sells the show. So, every show that comes out feels the need to outdo the last show in the “issue” category. They portray preachers in a negative light. They all have to have an openly homosexual character, a male who is coming out the closet, or one who is lying to keep it on the DL. There is usually one character who is cheating on his spouse. There are the ratchet reality tv shows. We can probably count on one hand the number of current shows with model African American male characters. Why? Drama, issues, and struggles boost ratings. Ratings rule television. Therefore, even the shows that were created by African Americans and employ AA writers “have to” have a character who keeps the viewing audience on their toes. With that in mind, let’s visit Fox’s new daytime talk show “The Preachers.”
“I think that’s amazing! Uh and a lot of people think that’s novel and y’all church people are gon’ have a heart attack. Monique is from Baltimore with me. So, I believed in open marriage. I just forgot to tell my ex-wife about it. So, it didn’t go well!”
(Did Anyone think that joke was funny?)
With controversial topics such as this, I try to refrain from using names. I won’t say the preacher’s name since there could be some of you who live under a rock and have not seen this segment of the new show. However, the show featured comedienne and actress Monique. She was joined by her husband Sidney Hicks. The segment had to do with this idea of being in an open relationship. I’ve chosen to mention their names because Monique and Sidney have been very transparent about their “open relationship” setup. In fact, they host a podcast called- Monique and Sidney’s Open Relationship. During the segment, they talk about what it means to be in an open relationship. They allude to the idea that having sex with other people is acceptable as long as they inform each other about it first. It’s their belief that it is when you are with someone else and hide it from your spouse that it is considered cheating. As they explained their very un-Biblical, warped view of marriage, one of the preachers chimed in with the above bold statement. “….I believed in open marriage. I just forgot to tell my ex-wife about it.” There have been mixed emotions from my circle of Christian friends. Some believe that it was simply the preacher making light of what was once a very sensitive subject for him. Others are appalled that he would hint about his indiscretions to such a broad audience on such a major platform. The question arose, “Why would he say that?” That’s an easy answer. Ratings! That answer has led me to ask a couple of questions.
Was it Worth it?
Are ratings worth us portraying ourselves in a negative light? More people are tuning in and watching us fuel the stereotypes that many of us have been fighting to eradicate. Now that you’ve communicated to the world that we are drama-filled, issue having, people and your ratings have skyrocketed, was it worth it? Mr. Preacher, now that you have told the secular and church worlds that you believed in open marriage (since you’ve been a prominent megachurch pastor) and possibly led others astray, was it worth it?
Will You Use Your Platform to Inform?
It sure would be nice to see more professional, successful, family-oriented, African American characters on these tv shows. I pray that our producers, directors, and writers will return to the day when they used their platforms to show the world that all African American men are not athletes and entertainers. There are doctors, lawyers, college professors, etc. Give the world a realistic and balanced view of what it’s like to be a brotha. Preacher, don’t joke about immorality. Use your platform to introduce the world to an authentic relationship with Jesus. I am convinced that the more people sincerely encounter Jesus, the more people will begin to change from the inside out.
Romel Gibson is a youth and college pastor, mentor, community leader, motivational speaker, musician, and songwriter living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He serves as a full- time Campus Life Director with Youth for Christ, one of the largest non-profit youth evangelism ministries in the world. As a songwriter, his most notable works include L. Spenser Smith and Testament (Greater, Surgery), Tonya Baker (Miracles), The Anointed Pace Sisters (Praise and Worship), Myron Butler (Changed), Marvin Sapp (Never), Ruben Studdard (Holding On To You Lord), and Johnny Gill (Black Box).Romel has been married for 12 years to his college best friend Quanedra. Together they have been blessed with three beautiful daughters; Allayna Pilar, Moriah Kelis, and Rylee Addison.