Yesterday, we learned where Hollywood, with its dainty preaching and glamorous fist-waving, draws the line. In a typically dramatic, though outlandishly late show of force, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski. “It’s time,” they decided, “to battle sexual abuse.” Best of all, they said it with a straight face, unaware of the irony.
In a statement, the board cited the organization's “Standards of Conduct” as the basis for the two men’s expulsions. The statement also noted that "The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy's values of respect for human dignity.”
Only four people have been expelled in the Academy’s 91-year history. Cosby, Polanski, Harvey Weinstein and Carmine Caridi. We’re familiar with the crimes of the first three. What did Caridi do? Was it murder? Rape? No, in 2004, he emailed a friend an early preview of a confidential film and it wound up online. Something about lumping those four crimes together makes a farce of all of it.
At next year’s Oscars, you can expect them to parade this ruling around like a badge of courage.
Because Polanski has been on the run for decades. And he has been nominated three times since his 1977 guilty plea for “unlawful sex” with a minor, also known as the child molestation and rape of a 13-year-old. In 2003, he even won an Oscar, Best Director for The Pianist.
At next year’s Oscars, you can expect them to parade this ruling around like a badge of courage. Really, it’s a scarlet letter, announcing to the world that hypocrisy pays well.