The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced it has expelled both Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski. Cosby was convicted April 26h of aggravated indecent assault amid a flurry of other sexual assault allegations. Polanski's ouster is a bit more surprising, though long overdue in the eyes of many; Polanski pleaded guilty to charges related to having a sexual relationship with a minor in the 1970s before fleeing the country to avoid jail time.
It's rare for the Academy to expel members, but in the wake of the Me Too movement that gained momentum when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, the organization has taken steps to more directly address the conduct of its members. Weinstein himself was expelled in October, and it seemed unlikely he'd be the last.
Per Deadline, the Academy voted on Tuesday to expel both Cosby and Polanski in their continued efforts to hold the personal conduct of their members to a higher standard. Bill Cosby has been a household name since the 1960s for his standup work and was catapulted to superstardom as the creator and star of the '80s sitcom The Cosby Show. There had been whispers about Cosby's alleged misconduct going back over a decade, but the floodgates opened, strangely, when comedian Hannibal Burress addressed the allegations in a standup set in 2014. Dozens of women have come forward with similar stories of Cosby drugging and raping them going back decades. Cosby was convicted of assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 and is currently awaiting sentencing; he faces up to 30 years in prison.
While the provocation for Cosby's expulsion is both recent and obvious, Polanski has been an ongoing lightning rod in the film industry for decades. Following his guilty plea, Polanski fled to France where he's lived in exile ever since. He has still worked regularly with many of Hollywood's A-list talent, even winning the Academy Award for Best Director in 2002 for The Pianist. More than Cosby, Polanski's expulsion suggests the Academy might be willing to grapple with its past mistakes in a surprisingly blunt way.
It remains to be seen if other recently disgraced members of the Academy could suffer the same fate. The most high profile question mark at this point is likely two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who was booted from the last season of House of Cards and cut out of All The Money In The World amid a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct that began with Star Trek: Discovery star Anthony Rapp, who accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him when he was a minor.
It can be difficult to read the endless stream of horror stories coming out of the entertainment industry, but it's a necessary exorcism to make the future safer for everyone involved. Dumping the likes of Polanski and Cosby from the Academy may be largely symbolic, but it's another signal that Hollywood is serious about cleaning up its act.