In a move clearly meant to show solidarity against the rape culture in Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has decided to remove both Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski from their ranks. Last week, Cosby had been found guilty of aggravated indecent assault following decades of rape allegations. Polanski has been a member of the Academy for decades in spite of the director’s self imposed exile from the United States to escape charges of raping a minor in the 70’s.
For a decade, Cosby had been plagued by whispers of “America’s Dad” drugging and raping multiple women for decades. Cosby had admitted to a pattern on drugging and sexually assaulting women during a deposition in 2005. Following a stand-up bit by Hannibal Burress that called Cosby’s misconduct out, momentum grew that culminated in Cosby’s trial for assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby now faces prison time for up to 30 years.
The memberships of Cosby and Polanski had previously been decried as emblematic of the Academy’s ambivalence towards sexual misconduct in the film industry, especially seen in Polanski’s Best Director win at the 2003 Oscars. Whereas Cosby’s expulsion is rather timely, Polanski’s shows the Academy’s commitment to tackle Hollywood’s rape culture. Last October, the Academy had made the choice to excommunicate Harvey Weinstein whose decades of rape and sexual harassment against women in the industry became the tipping point towards battling rape in the film industry.
It remains to be seen whether more Hollywood figures under the cloud of sexual assault and harassment will be cut from the Academy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Polanski were not the only accused in the industry. Figures such as Woody Allen, Casey Affleck, and Kevin Spacey were also film giants exposed as predators and it remains to be seen whether they will face similar consequences. Nonetheless, the move to expel Cosby and Polanski shows the Academy’s willingness to take real steps towards battling rape culture in Hollywood.