The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled convicted rapists Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski from their ranks. According to The Hollywood Reporter the board of governors of the Academy voted in favor of expelling both at their meeting on May 1. "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 measure is part of the Academy's late efforts to enforce the Rules of Conduct that were established after the expulsion of sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein. Of course, almost three years have passed since 35 women presented graphic accounts of the many ways in which Cosby drugged, assaulted, abused and raped her. Polanski's crimes date back even further, when he was arrested in 1977 for raping a 13-year-old girl.
As reported by LA Times in 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is "one of the most exclusive clubs in the world," and the criteria for participation have changed throughout the years. To be considered a member, candidates must have an Oscar nomination, request and receive a recommendation from two members, or obtain an endorsement from the committee and staff of a member. Memberships do not expire.
Notably, the Academy has invited alleged child molester Woody Allen to join many times over the years, and the principal has repeatedly rejected it. The LA Times reports that Karl Malden, then president of the Academy, said that if Allen "made an important donation to the academy's fundraising effort for his library, the group would leave him in peace. ", which caused Allen's one within the week. Earlier this year, Oscar winner and alleged sexual harasser Casey Affleck was present at the Oscars, until he was allowed to retire of his own free will.
Expelling Cosby and Polanski is the first step, not the last, that the Academy should take. While the delay is better than ever, their late arrival at this particular decision does not inspire much confidence in their commitment to maintain "ethical standards."