The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has booted convicted rapists Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski from its ranks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy’s board of governors voted to expel both men at its May 1st meeting. “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” the organization said in a statement.
The move is part of the Academy’s late-coming efforts to enforce the Standards of Conduct it established following the expulsion of longtime sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein. Of course, it’s been almost three years since 35 women came forward with graphic accounts of the many ways in which Cosby drugged, assaulted, abused, and raped them. Polanski’s crimes date back even further, when he was arrested in 1977 for raping a 13-year-old girl.
As reported by the LA Times in 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is “one of the world’s most exclusive clubs,” and criteria for entry has changed over the years. To be considered for membership, candidates must either have an Oscar nomination, apply for and receive a recommendation from two members, or earn an endorsement from a member’s committee and staff. Memberships don’t expire.
Notably, the Academy has invited alleged child abuser Woody Allen to join many times over the years, and the director repeatedly declined. The LA Times reports that Karl Malden, then the president of the Academy, said that if Allen “made a sizable donation to the academy’s fundraising effort for its library, the group would leave him alone,” prompting a check from Allen within the week. Earlier this year, Oscar winner and alleged sexual harasser Casey Affleck was set to present at the Oscars — until he was allowed to withdraw of his own free will.
Expelling Cosby and Polanski is the first, not the last, step the Academy needs to take. While late is better than never, its belated arrival at this particular decision doesn’t inspire much confidence in its commitment to upholding “ethical standards.”