If you’ve been following the Kevin Hart: Oscar Host story, you know that he was originally announced as the new Oscar host in December, then promptly dropped out when some old jokes disparaging the LGBTQ community surfaced. After that, there were rumours the Oscars might go on without a host, but Ellen DeGeneres decided she just couldn’t stand for it.
She had Hart on her show Friday where she introduced him as “This year’s Oscars host, Kevin Hart” and revealed that she called the Academy to tell them to reconsider hiring Hart. She then proceeded to essentially plead with the comedian to take the job back.
“You have apologized. You’re apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let these people win,” she said. “Host the Oscars.”
Hart — who has come off a bit high-and-mighty for his refusal to apologize “again” when he feels he’s already atoned for the insensitive past jokes — spoke insightfully about how at this point, taking back the hosting gig would just detract from what the night is about.
“The Oscars are no longer about Kevin Hart stepping on that stage and taking an intense night when people are so uptight and making it loose and fun,” he said. “Now all of a sudden it’s a little darker because the conversation is about me hosting the Oscars. The conversation is about Kevin Hart’s tweets from ten years ago and homophobia.
“I don’t want to step on that stage and make that night about me and my past when you’ve got people who have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive an award. I’m now taking away from all those moments because that night is focused on something else now.”
He also said, “again, I’m sorry if these words hurt,” and emphasized that his mistakes (i.e. making homophobic jokes) are what made him the person he is today.
Ellen was still adamant that Hart reconsider and they ended the interview with him promising to think about it.
There were mixed reactions to Ellen’s argument. While some sided with the host after hearing Hart speak about how he’s learned, there were others (particularly in the LGBTQ community) who felt her support was a betrayal.
Portia: New Year’s resolutions, dear?
Ellen: Um, thinking I need to dismantle my legacy and betray my community a bit more. Just not doing that enough these days. pic.twitter.com/T1Vg9rNfDO
— Nelson Branco (@nelliebranco) January 4, 2019
Love you, Ellen, but I completely disagree. I wish you hadn’t given him cover. And I don’t want to see him host. Not only is he not sorry for his comments—he’s just not funny. I’m so bummed that you got into this fray. I love you, but not this.
— Donna M. Davis (@DrDonnaMDavis) January 4, 2019
Hi Ellen. I think you’re a cool lady. Have for a while now. But this? This ain’t it. Kevin’s attacks were geared towards Black gay men. That being said, you have no authority to forgive him on behalf of a section of the community you don’t belong to.
— damone. (@DamoneWilliams_) January 4, 2019
CNN’s Don Lemon spoke on the controversy on his show that night, speaking to his own experience as a gay black man.
“For many in the gay community but especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies or explanations have fallen flat,” he said. “To many, they seem insincere and that he has somehow turned himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of sometimes deadly homophobia.”
“Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does,” says CNN’s @DonLemon, reacting to the Oscars’ openness to Kevin Hart’s return https://t.co/ITGU3Uj2ez pic.twitter.com/4u48sfBF0U
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) January 5, 2019
Lemon also pointed to a Vulture article analyzing every time Hart has addressed his past homophobic comments which concludes he never actually said the words “I’m sorry” before this current controversy.
“Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out, to understand why they might have been offended” he continued. “And I don’t see any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community. Not that I know of.”
Kevin Hart apparently wasn’t going to let the controversy end with an even-toned take-down by a news anchor on Friday night primetime. He made a pointed Instagram post shortly after the segment aired, reminding people that learning is a crucial part of growth and putting particular emphasis on how “a news anchor or journalist does not start at the top.”
View this post on Instagram
When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means. #Message #LiveLoveLaugh #HappySaturday …..Please grasp this and use it in 2019
Someone else in Kevin’s corner was Ellen’s brother, Vance DeGeneres. He defended his sister on Twitter and suggested that people “pick on someone who actually deserves your criticism.”
Regarding my sister – no good deed goes unpunished. All she’s ever done is try to help make the world a better, kinder, more compassionate place. And she’s paid the price for her efforts. You may want to pick on someone who actually deserves your criticism.
— Vance DeGeneres (@vancedegeneres) January 5, 2019
While there were reports after Ellen’s show that Hart was considering returning to the Awards and that the Academy was willing to take him back, Deadline is reporting that his super-final answer is that he won’t do it.
So the question still remains, who’s hosting the Oscars?