Photo Credit: Adrianna Radice/Achona Online/Piktochart
On December 4, 2018, Kevin Hart announced that he would be hosting the 2019 Oscars, an event which he has been asked to host many times before, yet supposedly turned down continuously with the assertion that he was waiting for the right time. However, due to many controversies surrounding the comedian which began to arise around the same time, a social media frenzy subsequently ensued in a plight to remove the star as host.
Hart’s current rise in subject popularity can be attributed to multiple controversial tweets, along with comments made elsewhere, which were buried in his Twitter feed from many years ago. All of these comments consisted of incredibly homophobic rhetoric, which many people have found to be upsetting and outrageous.
I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets 🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/ZbYG6SI3Xm
— Benjamin Lee (@benfraserlee) December 5, 2018
Due to this outrage, and the accompanying pressure towards the Academy to replace Hart with another celebrity, the Academy compromised to demand that Hart apologize for his comments or suffer the retraction of their offer. However, Hart came out with an ill-advised statement via Instagram refusing to apologize.
Following the post, Hart elected to personally step down from the position, issuing a statement via Twitter along with the apology which he had previously refused to give.
I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's….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.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
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 & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
The entire situation obviously stirred up much outrage amongst people on the internet. Not only was the controversy rooted in the comments themselves and their subject matter, but also in the circumstances of the host position and the questions surrounding it. It proved to raise the question of whether or not comments made in the past should affect opportunities of the future, and whether one should be obligated to apologize.
“He said what he honestly thought and gave his honest opinion. However, I think that when someone is being chosen for such a significant event you should definitely look into who they are and the mistakes they’ve made in the past. It’s a big deal because you’re giving this person a platform so you want to make sure it’s someone worthy of that platform,” said Dayzha Cartwright (‘19).
Though many believe the comments were unjustifiable and were thus deserving of reprimand, some are under the impression that if something was said many years ago and has been addressed before, it should not be of such detriment to the person’s future activities.
“I don’t approve of the comments that Kevin Hart made because they were very offensive and vulgar, however I do think they could have been made in poor taste at an ignorant point in his life. I think there is a chance he could have grown from that person he was and deserved to be heard out before being condemned,” says Tiffany Arnao (‘19).
On January 4, 2019, Hart made an appearance on the Ellen Show in which Ellen Degeneres herself personally defended Hart’s actions, even going as far as revealing that she personally contacted the Academy in a plea to help Hart.
“They’re gonna win if you don’t host the Oscars. You can’t let them destroy you and they can’t destroy you because you have too much talent,” said Degeneres.
After the airing of this episode, Degeneres received much backlash for her comments. Many believe that Hart should not be absolved of his actions simply because of her comments, arguing that, though Degeneres is a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, she does not speak for the entire community and does not have the right to be the arbiter of right and wrong in the situation.
I also believe in forgiveness. But I also believe that forgiveness requires an actual apology. Not “I’m sorry people are so sensitive.” Just “I am sorry.” All he had to do. And he indignantly refused because he felt his moment was being tainted. That he was the aggrieved.
— Eamon Paton-Usry (@Eamon2Please) January 4, 2019
“I think that Ellen’s opinion is valid because she is a member of the LGBT community, however I also think that it’s valid for people to still be upset because she obviously can’t speak for everyone. I do think that Kevin Hart’s apology should be taken into consideration and maybe not excuse his actions but make them more understandable,” says Tress Jacobs (’20).
No matter the position taken on the issue, the situation certainly brought about a very pertinent discussion about past comments made on the internet and whether or not they hold any significance in the futures of those responsible. This is a social question which becomes more and more relevant in the age of social media.
“I think it’s important to watch what you post, especially if you’re a public figure because those things can come to bite you in the future. You want to be a good influence because everything you say can have an impact when you have such an easily accessible platform,” said Isabella Piboolnuruk (‘20).