Roman Polanski, who has admitted to raping a 13-year-old girl and has been accused by four other women of raping them as children, was recently booted from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Though the academy saw fit to honor Polanski with a best director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist — which he could not accept in person, because after pleading guilty to felony statutory rape in 1978, he fled the country to escape a prison sentence and has remained in exile ever since — the members have belatedly determined, in the parlance and rallying cry of the day, that Polanski’s time is up.
Polanski was evicted from the academy along with Bill Cosby, who was recently convicted on three charges of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
But before the academy kicked Polanski out, the director gave an interview with the Polish edition of Newsweek. In it, as the Associated Press reports, Polanski said that he sees #MeToo as “collective hysteria of the kind that sometimes happens in the society.”
“Everyone is trying to sign up, chiefly out of fear,” he said.
Polanski compared the entertainment industry’s response to the airing of sexual misconduct allegations to the way North Korea publicly mourns dead leaders and everyone cries so much “you can’t help laughing.”
“To me this is total hypocrisy,” he said, without elaborating.
After the news about Polanski’s eviction from the academy came down, Jan Olszewski, Polanski’s attorney in Poland, said he and his client believed the decision violated academy regulations.
Olszewski said that to compare Polanski to Cosby was “a total misunderstanding and harassment.”
In the interest of avoiding any total misunderstandings, some context: Polanski gave then-13-year-old Samantha Gailey champagne and Quaaludes before raping and sodomizing her. Cosby has admitted, on the record, to obtaining Quaaludes for young women with whom he wanted to have sex. All six of the women who testified at Cosby’s criminal trial say Cosby gave them pills that incapacitated them before he sexually assaulted them.
Olszewski went on to tell the AP that taking away Polanski’s academy membership was akin to “psychological abuse of an elderly person” for “populist goals.”
But wait: There’s more! Harland Braun, another attorney of Polanski’s, wrote a letter to the academy threatening to sue. Interestingly enough, Braun writes that Polanski is not “contesting the merits of the expulsion decision,” just what he calls the academy’s “blatant disregard of its own standards of conduct in, as well as its violations of the standards required by California corporations code.”
The academy’s board of governors cited their “Standards of Conduct” in the announcement regarding Cosby and Polanski’s removal. But the language was not quite as harsh as what they deployed when booting Harvey Weinstein back in October — a decision they reached not two weeks after the first New York Times and New Yorker investigations into his alleged violence were published.
At the time, the academy declared (emphasis added):
“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.”
And, at the time, ThinkProgress asked, pointedly: So, what about Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski (not to mention accused sexual harasser and last year’s best actor winner Casey Affleck, who remains a member in good standing)?
The academy adopted its new code of conduct last December, in the wake of the Weinstein revelations. It declares that the academy will not admit or keep “people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency.”