Sexual assault enabling in Hollywood needs to stop

The 2021 adaptation of West Side Story premiered in theaters on Dec. 10. In the remake of the classic 1961 movie-musical, Ansel Elgort starred as Tony Wyzek, the male lead. Despite media praise and talk-show commendations, only one thought stuck in my head after spotting his name in big, bold, movie-poster letters: Does no one remember?

In 2020, Elgort was accused of the sexual assault of a minor. After the initial rape allegation went viral, at least five more accusations surfaced. Yet, inexplicably so, he continues to score headlining roles, red carpet appearances and wads of cash. Not to mention waves of acclaim by the press. 

There is only one unforgiving group holding Elgort responsible for his actions: the people.

On Dec. 8, a segment of Elgort’s appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden was posted on the show’s YouTube account. Here’s a small taste of what went on in the comments: “Hollywood waited a year hoping everyone would forget to try and bring Ansel back into the Hollywood scene. They think we’re dumb?” “[I]t’s disgusting that he’s been given such a huge platform after sexual assault allegations.” “What about the accusations against Ansel?”

Despite public outcries to knock Elgort from his pedestal, he has been given numerous opportunities and chances for success. The message this sends is an alarming one: there are no consequences for sexual assault in Hollywood. 

Sadly, the entertainment industry has a history of turning a blind eye and glorifying perpetrators of sex crimes. Comedian Louis C.K. admitted to using a position of power to sexually harass his colleagues. According to, C.K. acknowledged that the accusations were true in a statement and laid low for about a year following the allegations before returning to comedy. On Nov. 23, he was nominated for a 2022 Grammy Award for best comedy album.

These instances are reasons for frustration for victims of sexual violence. A junior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and victim of sexual harassment said, “It is really upsetting and, honestly, scary to see abusers being celebrated. The expectation that these people will be let off the hook after showing their true colors has already been established. There is no accountability and this is part of the reason that I and so many victims waited to say something.” 

According to a survey conducted by the Hollywood Commission, only 23 percent of workers in Hollywood said they had reported harassing behavior to a supervisor. 65 percent of the workers surveyed said they didn’t believe an industry authority figure (a director, lead, etc.) would be held accountable for harassing someone with less power. Considering recent events, these concerns are realistic.

The only way to handle these situations is to end the social acceptance of casting actors with outstanding sexual assault allegations. For justice to be served to victims, all accusations must be looked into by law enforcement. During investigation, any and all money-making opportunities for the accused must be removed entirely. 

Until accusations of sexual violence are taken seriously, incidents will continue to be swept under the rug and offenders will be free to bask in the glory.