The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on and holds the yearly Hollywood self-celebration, the Oscars, voted Saturday to expel embattled film producer Harvey Weinstein after nearly 40 women have come forward to complain the mogul sexually harassed — and even sexually assaulted — them.
The Academy's board of governors convened an emergency meeting Saturday morning to discuss the Weinstein affair, but the board, which features such film luminaries as Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks, did not vote unanimously to boot the Miramax producer. The vote was merely "in excess" of the two-thirds typically required to pass a motion.
In a statement, the Academy noted that Weinstein's expulsion should be read as a public rebuke:
We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.
For a board clearly intent on sending a message that "the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment is over," they seem ironically tolerant of some of Hollywood's most notorious sexual offenders.
Weinstein is alleged to have sexually harassed a number of actresses, often inviting them into his private hotel room for a "naked massage" or a "shower," but he's also accused of raping several women, including Italian actress Asia Argento, who went on the record about her assault in a New Yorker piece last week.
But as the Academy boots Weinstein, it's ready to welcome Roman Polanski back to the U.S. with open arms. Polanski fled the country in the 1970s after being convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, and is currently negotiating with California authorities because he wants to return to Hollywood without facing the consequences of his crime. Polanski and his supporters claim he's been punished enough — and that his accuser has long since forgiven him — but California is clear that Polanski must serve his sentence.
Since he fled to Europe, four more women have also come forward to say Polanski sexually assaulted them.
At the Academy Awards in 2013, the Academy, which finds Weinstein's behavior so abominable, honored Polanski with an Oscar in absentia. Meryl Streep, who claims she had no idea Weinstein was a disgusting human being at any point in their 30 year friendship, led the audience in a standing ovation.
Polanski is still a member of the Academy, as is Bill Cosby, who has also faced a number of accusations that he drugged and raped young actresses and female colleagues.
More likely than "sending a message," the Academy booted Weinstein to avoid criticism and to take itself out of the public eye in relation to a story that could continue to develop for weeks or even months if Weinstein faces any criminal charges. A Change.org petition called on the Oscars hosts to vote Weinstein out, and the National Organization of Women made the Academy their number one target in the Weinstein affair.
Both left-leaning organizations will, no doubt, be entirely placated by the move, regardless of its lack of long-term effects.