Film Twitter took a hard hit this week, with resident pretty boy Ansel Elgort being faced with various, disturbing sexual assault allegations. Many fans have even ripped their Goldfinch and Baby Driver posters off their walls and managed to get #AnselElgortIsOverParty trending. Their 2014 dream boy has officially been canceled.
We’re used to this by now: celebrities falling off their pedestals and getting the big, red “X” stamped on their forehead. Each time, the public figure in question, along with their PR team, craft a sentimental apology that leads a new narrative. These sob-story YouTube videos and Notes screenshots twist the situation to make the star seem innocent while still adding an element of being “flawed” and “misguided.” They always claim they’ll do better, but we continue to see these cancelations every day.
Let’s circle back to Elgort, who has become the latest addition to the growing list of disgraced stars. What are the allegations, you might ask? Well, let me inform you: Elgort allegedly gave his private Snapchat to numerous underage girls, asking for illicit pictures and planning to meet with them. Keep in mind, he was in his twenties, fully aware of the implications. One victim claims Elgort sexually assaulted her in person, knowing she was seventeen and gave no consent.
Elgort issued the classic Notes app apology, claiming the encounter and relationship shared with the victim was “completely consensual.” That’s just swell, but let’s remember he just admitted to having sexual relations with a minor, apology or not.
The most manipulative part of his apology is the fact that he banks on his future of empathy and understanding of victims—growing from his mistakes. He plays this major allegation off as a minor mishap like it’s a sexist joke dug up from 2012. In doing so, he not only downplays it but reframes the issue entirely. Suddenly, Elgort is the victim of a bad, vengeful breakup. She must not have handled it well and created a rumor, though he did nothing wrong, of course. It’s gaslighting, and frankly, it’s not acceptable.
Because he played up the role of shame and empathy, many are going to be compelled to forgive him. That’s when cancel culture usually fails. Those against the culture claim we should allow people to grow from mistakes and accept their apologies. But that only applies to minor acts of uneducated ignorance, if that. Many of the people making these decisions and doing problematic acts are grown adults.
I’m going to speak for myself here and say I probably wouldn’t make a mistake of Elgort’s magnitude, despite only being the age of his alleged victim. We have to realize we cannot give a second chance to some due to the gravity of their offense, no matter how sorry they claim to be.
The YouTube community is renowned for its faulty apologies. If I’m being specific: Tana Mongeau sobbing after videos of her using the n-word surfaced, MannyMUA throwing on a gray hoodie to cry after having his career tarnished, Lara Lee doing practically the same but somehow worse. They’ve mastered sob stories and sympathy grabs, along with the promises to do better.
High ranking celebrities have more of an advantage, though, with entire teams and industries behind them. Ansel Elgort was most likely given a list of key buzzwords to use, “unacceptable” and “ashamed” being at the top. It doesn’t matter if he’s sorry, because those words aren’t really an attempt to reach those truly harmed, like his victim, but rather to soothe shocked fans and save his career. He truly slumped down to the lowest level of social media apologies when he used a screenshot of the Notes app. At least the YouTube apologies gave them a chance to fake cry and show a little fake empathy. Elgort’s lacked any true emotion or grasp of the situation.
As much as I loved Baby Driver, its cast might possibly have the most amount of combined sexual assault allegations out of any movie. Ansel has become yet another man in Hollywood who abuses his power then downplays his actions. I mean how could we expect anything more than a Notes apology and gaslighting from someone who gladly worked alongside Kevin Spacey?
Featured image via Ansel Elgort on Instagram