Kevin Hart landed in hot water this week. On Wednesday, it was announced that Hart had been tapped to host the upcoming 91st Annual Academy Awards. The announcement didn’t sit well with many in the LGBTQ community because of Hart’s long, documented history of making anti-gay jokes, both in his stand-up comedy and on social media. The backlash ultimately contributed to Hart stepping down as Oscars host late Thursday evening.
As reported by Variety, following the backlash on Wednesday night, several of Hart’s years-old anti-gay tweets that included slurs and troubling language were deleted from his account on Thursday. Hart posted an Instagram video to address the situation, which was interpreted more like a combative non-apology rather than any kind of a mea culpa. In the first of two videos posted to his Instagram on Thursday, Hart said, “My team calls me, ‘Oh my God, Kevin, everyone’s upset by tweets you did years ago.’ 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.”
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Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry….I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people….there is nothing that you can do to change that…NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all….with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please….What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY…..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you….Have a beautiful day
Later, Hart posted another video explaining that he had received a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offering him an ultimatum: apologize for his tweets or be removed from his position as Oscars host.
“I chose to pass on the apology,” he said, going on to explain that “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.”
Following Hart’s announcement on Instagram that he had passed on apologizing and wouldn’t be hosting the Oscars after all, he made a more official announcement via Twitter, including the apology he said he wasn’t interested in making.
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
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” Hart tweeted. “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 & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
The tweets at the heart of the backlash were posted in 2009 and 2011, according to Vibe magazine. In one of the now-deleted tweets, Hart wrote, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters dollhouse I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.'” He also said in a 2010 stand-up special, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. Be happy. Do what you want to do. But for me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
Vibe noted that Hart did address these comments in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, though he still did not apologize for them. At the time, Hart said, “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. I wouldn’t tell that joke 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.”
Now, the Academy is tasked with finding a new host. Hart was announced rather late in the game, and as Variety noted, the search for a host was already more difficult this time around than in years past.