Since its creation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has expelled exactly two members: serial abuser and rapist Harvey Weinstein, and Godfather II actor Carmine Caridi (he was leaking voter screeners to the internet). Today, that number doubled. The Academy announced that Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski had their membership revoked. A vote was taken this week by Oscar members and, “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct,” decided to remove both men, the Academy said in a statement. They added: “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
The Academy adopted a new code of conduct for members in December, in the wake of accusations of years of rape and sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. In the past two decades, few producers had more power and influence than Weinstein, and his overdue fall from power reshaped the national conversation about sexual assault, rape, and workplace behavior. Weinstein was also a central figures in the growth of the #MeToo movement that continues to bring new allegations of misconduct, sexual or otherwise, against powerful men across industries in the United States.
Polanski, who won the Best Director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist, plead guilty in 1977 to five charges related to sex with a minor. After his guilty plea, Polanski served 48 days in jail, then fled the United States for France. He has never returned to the US.
Bill Cosby was found guilty last month of aggravated sexual assault for an encounter with a woman in 2004. He faces up to a 30 year sentence. Guilty verdict comes after more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault and rape occurring over the past 50 years.
The move to expel is small restitution given the severity of the crimes committed by Cosby and Polanski. The list of Academy members who belong in the company of Weinstein, Cosby and Polanski is long (including Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, James Franco, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, James Toback, etc etc etc), and likely only partially known. But the Academy moves slowly, and admissions of wrongdoing or regret are rare; in that light, this is welcome news.
Though it should also be noted that the move will not affect the status of Polanski’s Oscar win.
–Christopher Zumski Finke