The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to expel Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski from membership, according to a statement shared by Kate Arthur of BuzzFeed News.
The decision comes just days after Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault, and represents a major sea change in the way the Academy approaches sexual assault among its membership. Prior to this decision, only two people had ever been expelled from the Academy for any reason: Harvey Weinstein this October, as the Time’s Up movement kicked into gear, and an actor who was expelled in 2004 for sharing his screeners.
It makes sense that Cosby’s conviction would change his standing in the Academy, but the lack of a formal conviction didn’t prevent the Academy from kicking out Weinstein after his name became synonymous with sexual abuse in the workplace. And there isn’t a new conviction to work with in Polanski’s case: While the director pleaded guilty to statutory rape in 1979, he has remained an Academy member in good standing in the years since, and he won an Oscar for his work on The Pianist in 2003. (Harrison Ford personally delivered the statue to Polanski in France. Polanski hasn’t been in the US since 1979, when he fled the country before his sentencing hearing.)
That it took nearly 40 years for Polanski’s conviction to affect his standing in the Academy, and mere days for Cosby’s to affect his, suggests that Time’s Up has changed the way the Academy thinks about the people it chooses to recognize as part of the Hollywood community. If the movement accomplishes nothing else, it has at least made the motion picture academy agree that pirating screeners isn’t the worst thing you can do in Hollywood.