Kevin Hart Steps Down From Hosting Oscars After Backlash Over His Past Remarks
On Tuesday night (December 4), Kevin Hart announced that he had agreed to host the upcoming 91st Academy Awards next February. The superstar comedian and actor mentioned his late mother being proud in a social media post that confirmed the news. Approximately 48 hours later, Hart stepped down from the prestigious post.
Between Tuesday night and Thursday night, there was a public pushback over Hart’s selection. Specifically, some cited homophobic remarks that the comedian had made in his stand-up comedy routines more than a decade ago, along with tweets containing slurs. Among the vocal critics of Hart as a host, The Guardian‘s Benjamin Lee published an article, “Oscars Host Kevin Hart’s Homophobia Is No Laughing Matter,” with footage from his late 2000s stand-up act about his son’s “first gay thought.” That article cited Hart’s 2015 Rolling Stone feature reflection on the material. “I wouldn’t tell [a joke about fearing my son was gay] today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now. I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can.” However, the article also reported Hart’s turning down a Tropic Thunder role due to the character being gay. It also highlighted the use of the word “f*g” in past tweets. According to Variety, on Thursday, some of those tweets in question were deleted.
On Thursday night, Hart responded to the growing backlash. “My team calls me, ‘Oh my God, Kevin, everyone’s upset by tweets you did years ago,’” he said in an Instagram video, apparently exasperated with the current times. “Guys, I’m nearly 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man.”
Hours later, Hart followed with another Thursday video. It suggests that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him an ultimatum to apologize or step down. He publicly declared, “I just got a call from the Academy. That call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets [from 2009 and 2010], or we’re gonna have to move on and find another host,” he began. “I chose to pass on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life.”
Later in the day, Hart confirmed that after declining to apologize, he was stepping down from the role. Strangely, he did then apologize to the community his tweets, and any past offensive stand-up material. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars. This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love and appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
The Academy has not addressed the change. Previous hosts including Johnny Carson, Chevy Chase, and Richard Pryor made light of homosexuality and used slurs in their acts.