Kevin Hart Deserves Tolerance Too, and a Second Chance To Host The Oscars
His tweets and old routines weren’t pretty. But why can’t we believe that performers too can learn from their pasts?
To be clear, Kevin Hart is no victim. His words were his, and his arm was not twisted.
We will take off from there.
Actors, musicians and their brethren are frequently held up to another standard: a double-standard. While the rest of us are able to freely express our views on everything from comic books to politics, a performer is frequently admonished for doing the same.
“Shut up and act,” some say. “You all think you’re politicians,” say others. “Memorize your lines and leave your opinions to the experts,” they add.
Take a look then at the social media accounts of those pointing fingers— of the plumbers, the teachers, the day laborers — and what do you see? Anti-Trump memes, anti-Pelosi GIFs … Why this political party is better than that political party … Why the wall is necessary …
Controversial thoughts on sexuality and race.
You get the picture. Everyone (else) is an expert. On everything.
Regardless, for Kevin Hart it was supposed to have been the attainment of a life-long dream. He would host the Oscars, and become one of two African American males ever to do so solo (Chris Rock being the other; Sammy Davis, Jr. and Richard Pryor both co-hosted). Whoopi Goldberg was the only black female co-host to date, having presided over the ceremony on four occasions.
And then, as happens all-too-frequently in our electronic Big Brother universe, his past returned and bit him on the ass.
Prior to the resurfacing of his old tweets, however, it must be noted that Kevin Hart earned the distinction as one of the most successful actors of his generation. As either a supporting cast member or a star, his films have grossed in excess of $2 billion worldwide. He presently ranks #67 on the all-time list of the Top 100 Stars in Leading Roles at the Domestic Boxoffice, per www.the-numbers.com, and was #5 for 2018.
Studios have done business with him. Famed co-stars have acted alongside him. One need to only consider Richard Pryor as an example of a past host with controversial views and stand-up routines. Also, Eddie Murphy — who was assigned as host before sitting out in protest of the Academy banning Brett Ratner — became a de facto Disney poster boy for awhile, despite his intensely anti-gay stand-up routines.
The Academy has been hypocritical in asking Kevin to apologize.
Besides, millions of you have paid his bills over the years. Should you be tried as morally compromised, because you supported an arguably honest homophobe?
Of course not.
In 2010, Hart was asked about the nature of his tweets, and his comedy in general. He stood firm. This was his response:
Further, in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, Hart defended his 2010 statement:
“It’s about my fear. I’m thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it? Not that I’m not gonna love my son or think about him any differently. The funny thing within that joke is it’s me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it’s about me. That’s the difference between bringing a joke across that’s well thought-out and saying something just to ruffle feathers.”
Hart allegedly pulled out of the Oscar hosting gig on his own, when pressured to apologize. He said this at the time:
And he was right.
How many of us have held controversial opinions in the past? How many of us have expressed those opinions? Hart has said repeatedly that his words were based on his past fears and experiences. Why can’t we believe him? Do we think he is only trying to salvage a career?
He doesn’t need our help. And, he didn’t need Ellen DeGeneres either, who has gone to bat for him as Elton John once did for Eminem. Hart taped this interview with Ellen on Thursday, January 3, 2019:
Could Kevin Hart Come Back As Oscars Host? 'Ellen' Moves Up "Incredible and Honest" Interview
Hart was announced as host on Dec. 4 but then withdrew from the gig on Dec. 6 following an uproar over homophobic…
Predictably, Ellen is now facing a substantial backlash over to her support. To her, who has lived life as both a closeted and openly-gay woman, I say “Kudos.”
She is spot-on. We need to have this conversation, and have it now. And let’s add this: Let’s say Kevin has not changed his views. Again, we need to have the conversation, the dialogue, so he can potentially change his outlook.
Mutual understanding is the first step towards progress.
I have no knowledge of Kevin Hart’s background to comprehend his homophobia. But he’s been more than open to engage, civilly, about it. And he says he’s changed.
I’m ready to forgive him, or at the very least to listen to him, and I hope he hosts the Oscars. He would be in the eye of the beast, in front of one of the globe’s largest annual audiences, and his words on the subject will matter.
One day, we’ll get to the point where no one’s sexuality matters. We’re not there yet.
In the meantime, I hope he hosts. It’s the right thing to do to maintain the conversation.