Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Oscars Remove Cosby, Polanski from Membership

Roman Polanski
With the Me Too and Times Up movements taking a hold over the movie industry, there's been a lot that I've unfortunately not covered during my hiatus. There have been rules set in place for on set conduct, as well as the news that Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault in court. Which leads to an interesting point that shows a major shift in The Academy of recent. It looks like the talk is more than just hyperbole. The change is going to come fast, coming for those who have used their influence for wrongdoing within the industry for decades. Among the first two to go are Cosby and Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski. It only raises the question as to who's next, and whether The Academy will be able to fully change. 

If there's been one thing great about The Academy of the past few years, it's the fact that they're finally changing. It started in response to the Oscars So White movement, doing their best to represent cultural diversity. It has lead to some of the most exciting Best Picture winners, especially Moonlight and this year's The Shape of Water. Then this past year marked a significant change following the public shaming of Harvey Weinstein. They were no longer going to put up with sexual harassment. They've gone after several people in the months since, but what makes this news particularly exciting is that this is the first time that change has been made that feels like the start of something.

The news of Cosby is something that has been notorious for several years now. His recent trial just happened to put to light how problematic having him as a member would be. However, there's one member who has had an odder reputation. Polanski, best known for the films Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, also received notoriety following an inappropriate occasion with an underage girl. His crimes were considered so bad that he fled America and has been based predominantly out of Europe. When he won the Oscar for Best Director for The Pianist, he couldn't come to the ceremony for fear of being arrested. His crimes were that severe, and many continue to believe that he needs to be put to trial for his crime.

In their public statement, The Academy wrote that: 
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors met on Tuesday night (May 1) and has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct. The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.
This is a compelling move that may lead to a large revamping of Academy members. It's a sore spot of an issue, especially considering that actor Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester By the Sea not even two years ago. He also gave up the tradition of presenting at the following ceremony, likely due to the notoriety his own accusations have earned him. So the question quickly became about what the future will hold. How severe of accusations will cause The Academy to start excising members. One can only imagine that big targets like Woody Allen aren't too far behind. But that is yet to be seen.

Considering all that has happened with The Academy in the past year, it's interesting to see change happening faster than usual. While some could argue that the fates of Cosby and Polanski were long, long, long overdue, it's a sign that maybe they won't be standing for this injustice in the future. There's going to be a lot of changes, as there are every year, so it will be interesting to see who will be voting and shaping next year's ceremony. Maybe by then a lot of familiar faces will be long gone. Maybe this is going to be a blip on the radar. Only time will tell how much actually happens. 

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