January 5, 2016

Robin Givhan analyzes the "studiously unattractive sweater" Bill Cosby wore to his arraignment.

"With its sober color and vaguely lopsided fit, it had the look of a sick-bed sweater. You could practically smell the Bengay...."
[H]is salt-and-pepper hooded sweater with the sort of toggle closures that might be found on a child’s coat... managed to telegraph the dual message of grandfatherly trust and warmth, as well as impish innocence. What the sweater most vehemently did not imply was money and power, which Cosby has in abundance....

The Cosby promenade delivered a... pungent and cynical statement. It suggested that Cosby — a man who last year completed a rigorous national comedy tour in the face of mounting scandal — is doddering and fragile and incapable of moving through the world unassisted.
Givhan's critique is justified, and yet, Cosby's dressing to maximize his advantage is also entirely justified. The question is whether that sweater was his best choice. If it's obvious he's trying to seem like a pathetic old man when, in fact, he is not, then the sweater undercuts his credibility. Maybe he should have dialed his I'm-a-pathetic-old-man look back a notch. But he is 78, and the old-man routine seems pretty plausible.  He is old, even as the charge against him is old.

Givhan's column is titled "Did Bill Cosby’s grandpa sweater make you feel bad for him? Why this con didn’t work." But I don't understand why it didn't work, or even why it shouldn't work. Or why it's a "con." Givhan lists some actors who are in their 70s — Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, etc. — and implies that they dress spiffily. She says that Cosby could have worn "a shirt and tie or a business suit." But look at the pictures of Cosby from that "rigorous national comedy tour" last year. He was wearing a big, baggy gray sweatsuit. The "studiously unattractive sweater" was a significant step up in nattiness from his concert outfit. So I think it's less of a con than the suit and tie that unfamous criminal defendants wear to their arraignments all the time.

38 comments:

Michael K said...

The lefty warriors and SJWs are in full cry for Cosby's head. Bill Clinton is on the campaign trail. Perhaps his trips to "Lolita Island" will be put off until after the election now.

Interesting how the female left reacts. It's all politics. If only Cosby had not mentioned the pathology of the black family, maybe the feeding frenzy would never have happened. After all, most of these allegations are 40 years old.

traditionalguy said...

Hollywood wardrobe is good at its job. VICTIM COSBY has been dressed just right as a stumbling old man who cannot remember such ancient, " "he said-she said" that might have happened or not back before the Statute of Limitations kicked in.

MadisonMan said...

Am I the only one who misread that as Bill Clinton, not Bill Cosby?

Lyssa said...

My first thought (before I saw the picture) was that maybe he was trying to play on some of the sympathies of his beloved character from the 80's, when he was known for wearing colorful sweaters. (As a child of the 80's, this appeals to me. I hate to see such an icon of my youth in this position, even if justified.)

But then I saw the picture, and it looks pretty normal. It's cold; a large sweater is the obvious best choice. I think that she's reading too much into it.

AllenS said...

Sometimes, a sweater is just a sweater.

EMD said...

Givhan is being racist. That's what old black men look like.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...with the sort of toggle closures that might be found on a child’s coat... managed to telegraph ... impish innocence.

He should have worn shorts.

Zedediah Grimm said...

For fucks sake ... maybe he just wore a fucking sweater. As long as I can remember, and I'm in my mid 50s, Bill Cosby has worn sweaters. Robin Givhan needs to shut the fuck up. Is she jealous that Cosby never offered her a "pudding pop"? Fucking people are idiots.

Unknown said...

Wthis sounds like New York/Washington snark. No matter what he did or did not do was going to get negative battlefield preparation from those who have already convicted him.

Mac McConnell said...

The ugly sweater is Cosby's trademark.

Fernandinande said...

"It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to fifteen, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. 'Dammit, will you stop all that noise?' And, 'Jesus Christ, sit down!' One day, I'm out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, 'Dammit will you get back in here!' I said, 'Dad, I'm Jesus Christ!'" --Bill Cosby

Martha said...

I also initially read 'Bill Clinton' for 'Bill Cosby' and wondered why Givhan had thought the conservative professorial brown sweater/jacket combo Clinton wore yesterday while campaigning for Hillary! yesterday in New Hampshire looked childish.

Bill Clinton did look and behave elderly and frail and he was not trying to give that impression. Aging hound dog was neutered OR as William McGurn WSJ put it: THE BIG DOG—Bill Clinton—GETS FIXED.

Ann Althouse said...

"Givhan is being racist. That's what old black men look like."

Givhan is black.

Michael K said...

We know she is black but Cosby broke the rule for blacks. He mentioned the pathology in the black family. That is racist. He must be punished.

Givhan is from Detroit and is a "fashion" writer. Her fashions are mostly on the left although she has criticized Hillary and Michelle for clothing.

On Cheney: " I don't want to be represented by someone in, you know, a parka who looks like he's at a Green Bay Packer game."

Who goes to Packer games ?

Sebastian said...

"But I don't understand why it didn't work, or even why it shouldn't work. Or why it's a "con."" Faux puzzlement, right? If you approach the sweater wearing as an issue to be understood as objectively as possible, then you're right not to "understand"; but if you assume a Prog writer will write anything to support the correct conclusion, that facts and words are tools, then there's nothing to be puzzled about.

Char Char Binks said...

I've heard tell that some women back in the seventies and eighties enjoyed taking drugs and having sex with celebrities. Some would even try to further a career in show biz by pleasing a man who had the power to help her. Of course, that was before women stopped doing such things.

The Godfather said...

For gosh sakes! Cosby either did the evil deeds he's accused of or he didn't. What kind of sweater he wears doesn't matter.

Zedediah Grimm said...

So blacks can't be racist? Against other blacks? I call bullshit.

rehajm said...

There's a gaping hole in Givhan where pop culture would go. Obviously never heard of Cosby Sweater. If anything it was a dont-you-know-who-I-am power play by Coz. Unsuccessful on some as apparently, Givhan does not.

EDH said...

What I noticed about the sweater: it had a hood.

"We are all Travon"?

Mac McConnell said...

Martha
Bill Clinton's brown outfit looked like Garanimals clothing with coded labels. If one doesn't look like Gregory Peck men should stay away from all dark brown outfits, there's always the possibility of being mistaken for a pile of dog shit wearing shoes.

dbp said...

The sweater looked a little odd to me but hardly worthy of criticism. What really stuck out was Cosby's grooming. The gray unshaven look makes Cosby seem homeless or like he is going senile. He would have looked much better with a sweater, a hat and a fresh shave. Neat and not looking like a has-been.

Quaestor said...

Althouse wrote: ...I think it's less of a con than the suit and tie that unfamous criminal defendants wear to their arraignments all the time.

Which makes me wonder how today's typical street thug even knows where to buy a suit or wear a tie. I'm sure their attorneys encourage them to shed the gangsta look before appearing in court, but do they advise them on how to appear less anti-social? If they do is that just more billable hours?

I see a money-making opportunity here. A shop where habitual offenders can get a make-over for a nominal fee -- a tonsorial salon where the dreads are shorn into a civilized crop with an attached garment rental business - a three-piece pinstripe hired by the week. Prep-a-Perp sounds just right.

aritai said...

No surprise in his looks. ITs what happens when you find you can't do your life's work anymore. I'm sure he lived to make people laugh. It kept him energized and looking young. He would have done it without the money. It'll never happen again. Where does he go to get bat his good name? If Mr. Clinton had faced the same censure I'd be less of a skeptic. We should ask the Clinton questions. Who is funding these complaints? Publish all the intimate details of their lives. Mr. Cosby will live a joyless life and end up without a penny to his name. They finally found a Clarence Thomas they could nail to a cross, congratulations. Wonderful system you have in the U.S.

traditionalguy said...

Let's take up a collection and ask Titus use the money to buy Cosby the latest thing from the most hip sweater Store in Boston.

mccullough said...

The sweater matches his stubble. He's got a Belichick look going

Alexander said...

Bill Cosby is being told to "dress white". What a bunch of racists.

EMD said...

"Givhan is black."

Exactly.

Drago said...

Why doesn't Bill Cosby just "donate" 10 million to the Clinton foundation, rename this operation "Bimbo Eruptions", hire Hillary and/or her friends to trash the reputation of all these women and then get Soros to fund an offshoot organization called "MoveOnAgain.Org"?

Oh, and get quickly back on the liberal plantation asap.

Maybe even bring in Jesse Jackson for moral counseling.

That's the precise recipe for making this all go away.

Chuck said...

I can say; I didn't think ANY of that about Cosby's perp-walk.

He looked like a guy who was wearing what he normally wears. The last time I saw him in a tie, must have been the occasion of his Kennedy Center honors. That was 1998. (A "Kennedy" honor; how richly appropriate.)

But now that Robin Gihvan (who is Robin Gihvan?) has intoned on the subject, it really did get me wondering about how the prosecutors tipped off the press about Cosby's arrest and arraignment, such that they could gather for a 200+ person scrum. Such perp walks in celebrity cases are routinely choreographed for the press by persons in law enforcement and prosecutorial offices.

FullMoon said...

dbp said... [hush]​[hide comment]

The sweater looked a little odd to me but hardly worthy of criticism. What really stuck out was Cosby's grooming. The gray unshaven look makes Cosby seem homeless or like he is going senile. He would have looked much better with a sweater, a hat and a fresh shave. Neat and not looking like a has-been.


I thought the same thing.
Some people are "old" at seventy eight. And, having a prison sentence hanging over your head, takes a lot out of you. A criminal charge will justifiably be on your mind all of the time for most people. Cosby looks like he is scared, and I doubt it is an act. He probably cries when he is alone.

CStanley said...

He's experiencing a sudden loss of vision and of reputation, and facing potential jail time. I would think anyone would be worse for wear, and at 78 it would age you. There's a huge difference between Harrison Ford, in his early 70s and enjoying a reprisal of one of his most popular roles, and Cosby's situation,

I would guess that the defense attorneys played up the old man angle for sympathy, but it's certainly not a stretch.

traditionalguy said...

In a he said/ she said swearing contest the client's initial impression dress and demeanor and the opening statement will determine the jury verdict no matter how many months go by. People WILL hear what they saw and throught first.

Lem said...

Cosby is a man who is alleged to have assaulted many women.

It is incumbent upon Robyn to do a hit piece. Sisterhood and all that.

Rex said...

One commentator on TV specifically recognized the sweater from the Cosby Show.

Dave in Tucson said...

Cosby is a man who spoke out against the liberal narrative (the fact that he's black makes it all the worse). The assault charges are just a convenient point of attack for the left.

I mean, compare this to the "get out your kneepads" reaction the left had to Bill Clinton's abuse of power with women. It's all about whether or not you fall in line with leftist policy.

Char Char Binks said...

It's a good thing we have an expert who can determine Cosby's guilt or innocence based on his sweater.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Not quite exactly what Bill cosby did in real life:

http://www.wor710.com/onair/mark-simone-52176/a-creepy-scene-from-the-bill-14247164/

In the TV show he has soemthing that makes people - both male and female - desire sex, not something that knocks people out. In the very final scene, I think he's preventing a boy and girl below teh age of puberty from eating his barbeque sauce, but I am not sure if that's what he's doing at all, or if that chicken is, or contains the barbeque sauce or not.