Your Favorite Actor Committed Sexual Assault. Now What?


Ayelet Schuster

It is any ordinary day, and you open your phone to check the news. Nothing seems unusual as you’re scrolling through the feed, until you see the headline saying that there has been another actor with a sexual assault allegation. This time it is not any random actor. Shockingly, it is an actor from your favorite TV show.

This initially comes as a shock because they do not seem like the type of person that would do something so horrible. But as you read the article, it sinks in that they committed a crime. After making this realization, what comes next? How should you react to what this actor did? Can you separate the art from the artist, or no longer support them completely?

The question does not come with such a straightforward answer. Every person gets to choose  how they react to these stories, and their reactions can vary based on each case.

The four most common reactions are to: A. Ignore the allegations and continue supporting the actor and their work. B. Support their past and future works, but no longer support the actor themself. C. Continue watching projects they have already done, but no longer supporting them in the future. Or finally D. No longer supporting the actor by not watching any of their work.

After hearing all the details of the story, a decision has to be made. Choosing to ignore the allegations and continuing to support the actor does not show the world how horrible the person truly is. In order for the whole world to recognize that sexual assault is wrong, each case must have a visible effect. Ignoring the case and continuing to support the actor shows that there are no consequences for leaving physical or emotional damage on another person. A person’s reputation should be tainted after such an ugly crime, making it difficult to support them and their work.

Actor Aziz Ansari has recently been accused of forcing himself upon a woman in the article “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned out to be the worst night of my life” on the news site Babe. In the article, a woman he went on a date with last fall explains how he made her uncomfortable by trying to pressure her into sex.

Sophomore Mirra Goldenberg watches Ansari on the show “Parks and Recreation.” As a watcher of the show, she made the decision to stop supporting Ansari himself, but she continues to watch all of his past and future works.

“I feel that it is important to not support the actor himself because the sexual assault allegations, but I also think that the other actors in the shows deserve attention too. There is nothing they did, so I have no problem watching the show to see the other actors” explains Goldenberg. “It will definitely feel uncomfortable to watch him in shows in the future, [as] I will always be aware of his actions.”

Choice B, to distance yourself from the actor, makes it possible to not restrict what you watch. Making some distinction between the actor and their work shows that this is not something that can simply be ignored. It also does not completely cut off the actor from your life.

“I don’t think it is fair to disregard all the other actors who are in shows with Aziz Ansari just because of what he did.” says Goldenberg. “Therefore, I would continue to watch shows he acted in, but I would not support him whatsoever.”

“Therefore, I would continue to watch shows he acted in, but I would not support him whatsoever.”

Choice C, to continue watching projects they have done in the past but nothing in the future, creates a distinction between before the allegations and after. This choice makes it difficult for the actor to be able to further their career. If people  no longer support their work, then the actor will no longer have a way to make money through acting.

Freshman Abby Kreisler also watches “Parks and Recreation,” but made the decision to not watch any of Ansari’s future works.

“I believe that not watching shows and movies that he has already been in will not change anything. The shows are still good and the other actors in the show are still the same.” says Kreisler.

“However, with that being said, I cannot honestly watch shows that he is in that are new or being produced now.” continues Kreisler. “I also think that there should be more investigation before going to any extremes because anyone could anonymously accuse actors of things, but we should look into it before accepting everything they say.”

If you continue watching projects they have done, then you are only supporting who they once were and not their present and future. Also, if you have already watched their show, then it is not furthering the actors career because it is something from their past.

The last option, to boycott the actor and no longer watch anything starring the actor, creates the largest divide between you and the actor. This one can be the hardest choice, because it limits what you can watch in the future. However, this is the best way to punish the actor for their actions. It makes the actors career plummet and shows them that they do not deserve to have the fame they once had.

While this option is the best way to distance yourself from the actor, it takes self control to do it. Even if there is a show or movie that seems enjoyable, you can not let yourself watch it simply based on the cast. Even though this option takes the most self control, it creates the biggest divide between you and the actor.

Each person gets to make their own choice on how to go about supporting an actor after there have been sexual assault allegations about them. In order for them to learn from their mistake, people need to have some reaction to the case. It is important for people to distance themselves from the actor who has treated another human being horribly in order to prove a point. No one should be treated with the same respect as before they commited a crime. Even if it is your favorite actor, sexual assaulters need to be punished for their actions.