Why I Think Kevin Hart Was In The Wrong, And The Men Defending Him Are No Better
Hart and his allies must first recognize the mistake the comedian has made before he can move forward toward redemption.
Over the last 10 years or so, Kevin Hart’s career has transitioned from amateur comedian to box-office breaker. Hart has performed in sold out shows around the world, while simultaneously starring in several successful films.The Philadelphia native has reached a pinnacle of monetary success, even surpassing veteran entertainer and syndicated sitcom star Jerry Seinfeld as the highest paid comedian in the industry. So when Hart announced that he was asked to serve as host of the 91st annual Academy Awards — set to air on February 24, 2019 — fans rejoiced along with him.
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For years I have been asked if I would ever Host the Oscars and my answer was always the same...I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s suppose to. I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars. I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time....To be able to join the legendary list of host that have graced that stage is unbelievable. I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now. I want to thank my family/friends/fans for supporting me & riding with me all this time....I will be sure to make this years Oscars a special one. I appreciate the @TheAcademy for the opportunity ....now it’s time to rise to the occasion #Oscars
The opportunity to host the Oscars would not only fulfill one of Hart’s longtime aspirations, but being asked to host the star-studded ceremony is an obvious testament to the revered career of the selected emcee.
It's often been said that no one is safe from internet sleuths. Unfortunately, Hart learned the cold reality of this truth the hard way. Soon after taking the throne as host of the Oscars, homophobic tweets from the Night School star — some of which dated as far back as 2009 — were uncovered. Shortly after that, things went left.
When Hart was asked to express remorse for his past remarks, he initially refused to do so. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences then gave him a ultimatum: Either apologize or resign as host. Hart decided on the latter. In just a couple of days, a major career milestone in Hart's life was taken away from him. He was then hit with an onslaught of criticism from individuals who once idolized his work. Moreover, the incident sparked a larger discussion: At what point can someone's past remarks be disregarded on the basis of present "good behavior”?
Well, according to some of Hart's fellow colleagues in comedy, the Ride Along lead was not in the wrong. In fact, if you ask Nick Cannon, the Academy should be ashamed of themselves for mismanaging Hart's hiring and firing. Speaking to The Associated Press, the Wild 'n Out host expressed disappointment with the Academy’s decision, and even criticized the organization for once harboring prejudiced views of its own.
"I felt that the Academy actually could’ve handled it in a different way," Cannon told The Associated Press.
Cannon further argued that it would have been a better use of their time to conduct prior research before offering Hart the role.
"We all have made mistakes, there’s no perfect black comedian," Blackson reportedly told TMZ. “I thought with him just admitting he matured and things have changed — he’s a new person. I thought that was an apology.”
Saturday Night Live co-head writer and cast member Michael Che compared Hart’s dismissal to that of Mel Gibson’s reputation in the movie industry, during the show’s annual "Weekend Update" segment. However, Che noted one key distinction: Rather than shunning the What Women Want star for his homophobic, sexist and anti-Semitic remarks, the Academy has continued to honor Gibson, seemingly dismissing any record of misconduct from the Braveheart star.
"Kevin Hart had to step down as host of the upcoming Academy Awards because of homophobic tweets from 2011," Che said. "But didn't the Academy nominate Mel Gibson for an award just last year?"
Che then finished his monologue with a jab at revered comedian-turned-felon Bill Cosby, making a tongue-in-cheek remark about how no Black entertainer will ever be good enough for the mostly all-white awards show.
Perhaps the worst attempt to come to Hart's defense was made by D.L. Hughley.
White people standing up for racism in comedy. @RealDLHughley. But you can't see that because gay jokes are so popular and normalized. you can't balance or evaluate the ethics of an issue you aren't impacted by or really care brother just stop... You bias! https://t.co/2isgLxBcn9— IAM (@IndyaMoore) December 7, 2018
What began as a disagreement between two opinionated celebrities quickly took a turn when Moore, a trans woman herself, said that Hughley failed as a comedian.
your jokes divide people and that's why you fail as a comedian. By all means don't apologize, you can be all the clown you want but you will never lead with bullshit.— IAM (@IndyaMoore) December 7, 2018
Hughley lashed out in response, resorting to immature name calling.
Or consistently the top comedian on social media pussy!!! Lol— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) December 8, 2018
Not only was Hughley incredibly out of order, but his comments further underscore similar anti-LGBTQ sentiments, which got Hart in hot water to begin with. His defense of Hart’s behavior coupled with referencing Moore — a trans woman — by this derogatory name for female genitalia seems to speak volumes about Hughley’s pejorative opinion of the LGBTQ community. Though Moore’s criticisms perhaps caused Hughley to feel attacked, how she expressed her opinion did not merit the level of dehumanization that Hughley’s response subjected her to. Not only was it cruel, it was just petty. Clearly this was the clapback of a man who — with nothing constructive to offer the conversation — became desperate to have the last word.
What's even more concerning about Cannon, Blackson and Che's defenses is that these three, cis-gender men fail to recognize the broader topic behind why Hart was encouraged to step down from hosting the Oscars in the first place: He blatantly disrespected the LGBTQ community.
Comedians routinely make light of taboo topics those in other professions would be condemned for saying. Part of what makes their routines so iconic is their ability to draw comparisons from their own lives within their performances. Prior to the Oscar announcement, Hart hadn't made headlines for disrespecting members of the LGBTQ community. However, his refusal to apologize and humbly acknowledge the concrete proof of his failed growth, it highlights the likelihood that he probably still harbors similar views today, no matter how much he may attempt to deny this and claim he’s “evolved” since the time he wrote those tweets.
As a Black man, Hart’s skin tone alone is problematic for those harboring prejudice views. That being said, he must understand the damage his tweets have imposed upon others, who are also of a marginalized community. Perhaps this blunder might become a teachable moment for Hart. Even better, he can use his platform to support and advocate for LGBTQ issues going forward.
In spite of all the negative attention Hart has drawn, it's a relief that members of the LGBTQ community are still interested in working with him to make him an ally. Following Hart's resignation from hosting the Oscars last Thursday, CNN anchor Don Lemon invited Hart on his program.
“Let's make you an ally to the LGBTQ community. I'm a member of the LGBTQ community," Lemon said. "I don't know you that well, but I do know you a little bit, and I believe that your heart could be in the right place. And you can move to become an LGBTQ ally."
Before Kevin Hart can reemerge as one of Hollywood's hardest working men, he and his associates must first accept fault for their insensitivity to the topic at hand, and then be willing to work toward making all marginalized individuals feel nothing less than accepted and accounted for in the future.
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