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Hartfelt Apology? : Reporters Ashwin Prasad and Lily McAndrews debate whether Kevin Hart should host Oscars after scandal over homophobic tweets

Da-Hyun Hong

Experienced, entertaining host Kevin Hart should be forgiven for decade-old homophobic tweets

Da-Hyun Hong

As many of you know by now, the Oscars will not have a host this year. Its original host, Kevin Hart, quit the role because of Twitter backlash over his homophobic tweets.

I’m not condoning his tweets. He has admitted what he said was wrong and intolerant; people who stand by such comments are unfit hosts.

However, those tweets are nearly ten years old. As Hart said, people evolve and change in 10 years. On Jan. 29, Hart was one of many celebrities who supported gay actor Jussie Smollett after someone assaulted Smollett in a homophobic attack earlier that day. Would a true homophobe do that? I doubt it.

Moreover, Hart had many hosting gigs since those original tweets. He hosted the B.E.T. Awards, two MTV awards shows as well as three Saturday NightLive episodes. Clearly, his tweets have not stopped him from hosting big-time TV. Why should the Oscars be any different?

Hart has received support from the LGBT community. Ellen DeGeneres, TV show host and two-time Oscars host, said she personally called the Academy and urged them to reinstate Hart as the host. She also brought Hart onto her show in January and told him she was “in his corner.”

Yes, DeGeneres probably gave him an overly favorable interview. However, she is not alone with her assertion.

GLAAD (formerly Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) expressed disappointment after Hart stepped down. The president of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a statement, “Hart has missed a real opportunity to use his platform and the Oscars stage to build unity and awareness. We would welcome that conversation with him.”

CNN news anchor Don Lemon puts it best.

Lemon said, “Someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader…and help change homophobia in the black community, something Kevin’s old Twitter jokes addressed in the wrong way.”

Lemon added that this is a life or death matter for African-American children who are victims of homophobia (both Hart and Lemon are African-American).

Hart’s refusal hurts the Academy Awards’ efforts to promote diversity, which has always been a sore spot with Oscars nominations (remember #OscarsSoWhite)? There have only been five other African-American hosts, but Hart would’ve been the second in four years.

However, this year’s ceremony features a bumper crop of works by and about minorities, especially African-Americans. These films include “Black Panther,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Green Book” and “BlacKKKlansman.” If Hart was the host, Feb. 24, 2019 would have been remembered as a seminal moment for African-American and LGBT culture alike; it’s just another missed opportunity. 

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Ashwin Prasad at [email protected]

Hart’s lack of apology fails to suppress scandal; hosting would detract from true meaning behind celebrating the Oscars

Da-Hyun Hong

The three most important  words ever spoken are not “I love you,” but instead ones that are full of remorse and sincerity—“ I am sorry.” On Dec. 4, 2018, Kevin Hart was announced to host the 2019 Oscars. The next morning Hart was exposed on Twitter for homophobic tweets published between 2009 and 2011, and over the course of  the next several weeks, social media platforms exploded, rallying against the comedian.

In his first response to these tweets from nearly 10 years ago, Hart claimed that since that time, he has become more cultured and that he now “sees life through a different lens.” Even though I am sure Kevin Hart is not the same person he was 10 years ago, this still doesn’t mean he should be the host for the 2019 Oscars. Everyone should be allowed the chance to grow, change and learn from their mistakes, including Hart. However, not issuing a sincere apology what he said prevented him from being a truly successful host for the 2019 Oscars.

Hart first addressed this issue on Instagram Live, where he declined to apologize after the Academy had given him an ultimatum: apologize, or they would find another host.

Hart said he chose not to issue the apology but step down instead, saying he did not want to contribute to “feeding the internet trolls.” Hart avoided apologizing and victimized himself in his first attempt of an apology, ultimately saying, “I’m entitled to host the Oscars. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to grovel to get the gig.”

He also tweeted his decision to step down from hosting, saying, “I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.” However, just a few days later  on Jan. 4, Ellen DeGeneres invited Hart on her show, where DeGeneres gave him an open platform. Instead of utilizing this chance to center either the LGBTQ+ community or sincerely apologize for his words, Hart centered on himself and his own personal growth, claiming he had already apologized and that he had done enough. His words received no interruption from DeGeneres or the crowd, with DeGeneres later receiving a lot of backlash from the interview.

I believe that Hart should be forgiven, as well as allowed the chance to show that he is a changed person from who he was in the past. But, I also believe that forgiveness requires an actual apology. He took on the attitude of “I’m sorry people are so sensitive,” instead of just an “I am sorry,” and this is an important distinction.

In recent interviews, Hart has explained how he’s “done, (he’s) just done,” with the entire situation, Oscars and all. While Hart has addressed the situation and “apologized” repeatedly, his attempts to apologize do not address the people he harmed. His words originally may have hurt the LGBTQ+ community, but his apologies instead seem to be concerned with his own image. If Hart were to host the 2019 Oscars, it would be a distraction to what the Oscars really symbolizes, which is more than a night. The Oscars is a celebration of cinematography: the people we are and the stories we tell.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Lily McAndrews at [email protected]

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