~or, the (usual) clumsiness of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences~
And perhaps a little suspect.
The Cosby expulsion comes as no surprise, given that the Academy's decision came exactly one week after he was found guilty on all three counts of aggravated sexual assault. But lumping in Polanski at the same time makes the decision seem lopsided, for lack of a better description.
Why Polanski? And why now? As Cara Buckley pointed out in The New York Times, the inclusion of Polanski shocked Hollywood, where he has "enjoyed a measure of support." It's been more than 40 years since Polanski was arrested and convicted for sexual assault involving 13-year-old Samantha Geimer. Since then, the Academy has honored Polanski, most recently in 2003 with an Oscar for Best Director for "The Pianist."
Geimer, in an interview in Vanity Fair, called the Academy's expulsion of Polanski "an ugly and cruel action which serves only appearance. It does nothing to change the sexist culture in Hollywood today and simply proves that they will eat their own to survive. I say to Roman, good riddance to bad rubbish. The Academy has no true honor. It's all just P.R."
So, again, why Polanski? And why now?
My theory is that the Academy, hoping to hitch a ride on the coattails of the Cosby case, originally intended to expel only Cosby - that is, until the toxic damage control by his people swung into action, calling the verdict racist and an example of "mob justice." Not wanting to face the same accusations, the Academy, acting in self-interest, hastily added Polanski to the mix. A two-fer that gets the Academy off the hook, see? But that doesn't make its decision look any less arbitrary and hypocritical.
I'm not saying that Roman Polanski doesn't deserve to be expelled. What I'm saying is that he's included now only because it's convenient for the Academy to target him at this particular time. And if the sanctimonious Academy leadership really wants to clean house, why stop at Cosby and Polanski? Why not toss in Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Casey Affleck?
Apparently, Polanski was blindsided by this. The director was informed that the Academy was planning to take up the issue of his membership, and his attorney, Harland Braun, was preparing a presentation for the Academy board that would have included a statement from Samantha Geimer.
He believes the Academy failed to follow a fair process in the case. "We want due process," Braun told Vanity Fair. "That's not asking too much of the Academy, is it?" He will now appeal the Academy's decision.
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