In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors enacted a new Standards of Conduct code, and not a moment too soon. According to THR, at their May meeting, the board enforced this new rule by expelling comedian Bill Cosby, as well as director Roman Polanski, the latter of whom has been defended by many in Hollywood for a long time (although also protested by others). The new code of conduct was adopted in December by the Academy’s membership, since they needed a way to address the shameful behavior that has always been around but was finally out in the open.
In a statement released about their decision, the Academy stated that: “The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.” When it’s convenient, anyway. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13 year old girl, and yet, it’s only being addressed publicly by the Academy 40 years later.
It’s worth noting that when it comes to expulsions, many might be asking about director Woody Allen. Allen is not actually a member of The Academy, so that’s one less person they have to consider booting. Others have included Academy president John Bailey, but the board dismissed those changes, and he remains in control. It may be that the Academy is drawing a line now under criminal convictions as the tipping point for expulsion.
Though Cosby is better known for his TV work, and was never nominated for any Academy Awards, he still had something of a film presence in the 1970s. However, as the THR piece notes, “The Television Academy has also removed Cosby’s name from its list of Hall of Fame honorees on its website, and a statue of Cosby that once was installed in the Academy’s Hall of Fame Plaza, which had been removed during renovations, will not be returned to the site. Other institutions, like Yale University and Cosby’s alma mater Temple University have also rescinded honorary degrees that they had given Cosby.” As for Polanski, he will be allowed to keep his Oscar for The Pianist.