On December 4, 2018, word got out that Kevin Hart was to host the Oscars. It was a dream come true for the 39 year old comedian and actor. He called it “the opportunity of a lifetime.” The elation was shortlived as old tweets were rediscovered and shared. In less than three days, a dream came to fruition and the same dream was dismantled. Kevin Hart is out as Oscars host. This is due to what some perceived as homophobic language and behavior.
When the problematic tweets resurfaced, Hart addressed the fresh controversy on his Instagram account. The Academy demanded an apology from the comedian and he initially refused to do so. Hart cited his previous comments on the homophobic material; in a Rolling Stone article (that was published in 2015), Hart said, “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.”
It’s curious that the tweets garnered global attention and reaction only after Hart was named to host the Academy Awards. Why didn’t folks voice their concerns with the actor when he was releasing movies like “Central Intelligence” (2016) and “Ride Along”(2014) and “Get Hard” (2015) and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (2017)?
The glaring issue with all of this is the result. A would-be host is given the boot due to old, tasteless rhetoric and poor jokes. Hollywood is in the middle of one of America’s largest political liberal “bubbles.” Some of the most vocal activists for liberal causes live and work in Hollywood. They claim that their side supports inclusivity and diversity. However, when it comes to dated tweets and previous mistakes, nothing is forgiven. The broken logic in this is thinking that no one can evolve, no one’s mind can change, and that you are stuck in a psyche that is nearly a decade old. Imagine being judged today on the person or kid you were eight or ten years ago. Like Polaroid film, people develop. Nobody is perfect.
The Academy and Kevin Hart could have found a less reactionary way to deal with the mess — but the Oscars just can’t risk losing more viewers, can they? If anything, this doesn’t say much about the Oscars’ vetting process. So, who’s the host now? One would hope that they wouldn’t select another black man simply to fill the void of color. #OscarsSoWhite is still very much a thing. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that progress results from the exchange of contrasting ideas. Without solvable conflict, every victory is empty. When we turn away from dissent and turn others away for previously harboring toxic opinions, we can’t label ourselves or our ideology as inclusive. That would be a lie to ourselves and the lives we’re trying to lead.