Kevin Hart swung by Ellen to discuss the controversy that cost him his Oscar hosting gig: namely, the resurfacing of old homophobic jokes (in tweets, and in stand-up specials), which led a lot of people to question whether he would be a suitable emcee for a night where many of the nominated works involve LGBTQA+ characters and artists, and then his decision to step down from the job when faced with an ultimatum. And listening to the clips from the interview, it’s clear that Hart still doesn’t quite get what all the fuss was about. He’s still painting himself as the victim of an unwarranted internet backlash over jokes he claims to have moved on from, would never say again, and has apologized for in the past. To him, it’s a dead issue, and the real problem is that it ruined one of the dreams on his vision board (no, really).
And honestly, I don’t necessarily disagree — they may be spectacularly tasteless jokes but they are old, and he has addressed it before, and it doesn’t seem like he’s made similar comments in recent years. So, fine. I hope he really has grown. But what stoked the fire in the first place was his decision to cling to his pride and whinge about the controversy in Instagram videos rather than defusing it by saying basically what he tells Ellen DeGeneres on her show: that he’s imperfect but that he’s grown and doesn’t make those jokes anymore.
This is a PR stunt (as Ellen notes, his new film The Upside is coming out real soon!), and to his credit, Hart comes prepared to talk. But what’s more surprising is just how firmly Ellen is in his corner on this. When I first heard about his appearance on her show, I figured this would basically be an opportunity for him to get some weird, public stamp of approval from the queer community, of which Ellen is OBVIOUSLY the living embodiment (/sarcasm). And yes, it IS that, but it’s also so much more. Because the real reveal of the interview is that Ellen called the Academy to vouch for Kevin… and they want him back!
“I called them, I said, ‘Kevin’s on, I have no idea if he wants to come back and host, but what are your thoughts?’ And they were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host! We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong. Maybe we said the wrong thing but we want him to host.’”
And then she goes on to praise Hart’s talent, acts like him accepting the gig again would be him being “the bigger man” (note: he wasn’t fired, he walked away!), and ya know, screw the haters. Which all seems like a super convenient way for the Academy and Hart’s team to pave the way toward an eventual announcement in the near future that he’s back on as host (since the Oscars are coming up February 24th).
But even after hearing how far Ellen is going for him, Hart stays on his “I’m the real victim” BS:
“I’ve got over 40,000 tweets. To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008, that’s an attack. That’s a malicious attack on my character. That’s an attack to end me. That’s not just an attack on the Oscars. That’s what I want people to understand: that’s an attack to end me.”
Honestly? At this point, I’m just tired. I don’t know why Ellen is trying so hard to help him, and I don’t know why Hart is trying so hard not to help himself. I don’t know why it’s so hard to say, “Yeah, I was wrong in the past and I know it, which is why I don’t say stuff like that anymore and I agree with you all.” I don’t know why valid criticism is being treated as a conspiracy when the real problem is how Hart handled that criticism in the first place. And I don’t know why Ellen is out there stumping for this with an #OscarsNeedHart hashtag when they really don’t need him at all. They don’t need A HOST at all. Just get Lin-Manuel Miranda to do a song at the top, then stack the show with good presenters. It would be FINE.
And as for whether or not Ellen is the stamp of gay approval he needs at this juncture? Eh, call me when Don Lemon weighs in.
Header Image Source: EllenTube