The past several months have been a time of reckoning in Hollywood. Countless women — and men — have come forward with stories of sexual harassment and abuse, shining light on an industry-wide epidemic. And now, the Oscars committee has officially established a code of conduct for its more than 8,000 members. Failing to adhere to the standards can result in “suspension or expulsion” from the Academy.
For those who don’t know, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (as in the specific academy that votes on Oscar movies each year) is comprised of professionals all across the entertainment industry. To be considered for membership, one must be sponsored (aka invited) by two already existing members, and must show proof of contribution to the field of film. Producers, directors, sound technicians, set designers, and actors (to name just a few) are technically all eligible for consideration. It is also widely considered Hollywood’s de facto governing organization.
And the new code of conduct will apply to everyone.
In a letter to all members sent on Wednesday, December 6th, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson wrote,
This appears to mark a dramatic shift in the Academy’s approach to its membership base. Until Harvey Weinstein’s emergency expulsion this past October, only one other person had ever been expelled in the history of the Academy (for sharing VHS screeners, no less).
The lingering question on many people’s minds now, however, is how the Academy will deal with members who have been accused of questionable conduct in the past. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Casey Affleck are just a few of the names that spring to mind.
It seems to us that if the Academy is serious about this new code of conduct, it should review its entire existing membership base. Only time will tell how the board chooses to proceed on this front, and we’ll be watching closely.