The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which hosts the annual Academy Awards ceremony, has expelled acclaimed film director Roman Polanski for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. The Academy’s decision comes a mere 41 years after Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor — just 15 years after the Academy awarded Polanski the Oscar for Best Director, during which occasion many members, including Meryl Streep and Harvey Weinstein, gave the fugitive a standing ovation.
In 1977, a grand jury charged the director, then aged 43, with drugging, raping, and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl. After pleading guilty to child rape, Roman Polanski fled the United States for Europe to avoid his prison sentence. Undeterred, the Academy has continued to shower Polanski with accolades during his four decades on the run. Since 1977, Polanski has been nominated for 14 Oscars and won six. His most recent win in 2003 for The Pianist was met with a standing ovation and apparently universal applause among Academy members.
Over the past year, victims have exposed Hollywood’s ubiquitous culture of sexual intimidation and assault. Ever the showmen, the same stars who for years preyed on starlets and enabled other predators, now don “Me Too” lapel pins and offer empty gestures to cover up their own participation in the abuse. These silver screen immortals seem suddenly to have forgotten that film is forever.
While Hollywood titans shed fashionable, crocodile tears for one of their victims four decades late, their true feelings remain forever preserved in motion picture.