Ellen DeGeneres Can’t Accept Kevin Hart’s Apology on Behalf of an Entire Community
2018 brought more conflict to the already controversial Oscars when host Kevin Hart stepped down after refusing to apologize for homophobic jokes made in the past, including one about hurting his son if he found his son playing with a doll house. Now, as the ceremony draws closer, it appears he has begun a not-really-apology tour, starting with an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where host Ellen DeGeneres accepted his non-apology.
DeGeneres said she accepted Hart’s apology, and even called the Academy to ask if they wanted him back; she said, “I called them (the Academy). 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 or maybe we said the wrong thing but we want him to host. Whatever we can do we would be thrilled. And he should host the Oscars.’”
Hart doubled down on saying that those who dug up the tweets were attacking his character and trying to “end” him. DeGeneres said that while she is sensitive to homophobia, she also accepts his apology. She said, “You’ve already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay or beaten up every day. You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Host the Oscars.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 4, 2019
DeGeneres used the hashtag #OscarsNeedHart while promoting the coming interview, implying that the Oscars needed Hart to return to his hosting duties. At the time this article was written, there has been no replacement for Hart announced. However, just because there’s a vacancy in the hosting gig does not mean that Hart needs to return, or just because one gay person has forgiven him does not mean that the rest of the community has to forgive him as well.
Writer George M. Johnson succinctly shared why it is not Ellen’s place to forgive Hart for wrongs done to the Black LGBTQ community:
My thoughts on Ellen and this absolving of Kevin Hart. pic.twitter.com/tn7Amh6oDv
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) January 4, 2019
Others have tweeted responses to Hart’s segment, talking about how harmful it is to have Ellen forgive him for monologuing at her and offering no real apology but rather blaming those who do not like what he’s said.
I expected Ellen to actually ask Kevin Hart some sort of challenging question. Anything, really. But instead, it was just one long monologue from Kevin interspersed with Ellen’s approval. That interview made me miss the previous talk show hosts that asked tough questions.
— deray (@deray) January 4, 2019
As a Black queer someone who, when my body began to manifest aspects of my identity even I was unaware of was punched in the chest by Black men in my family and told to “man up,” Ellen can’t and doesn’t speak for me. #KevinHart https://t.co/biFbhtGTdm
— Tre’vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) 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
Do you also believe in standing up for Native peoples in this country? Because Kevin threw a “cowboys & Indians” themed birthday party for his kid. In 2018. Did you discuss that? Is it even your place to forgive him for that? Or are you only focused on your marginalized group? https://t.co/e5hhSIKH0h
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 4, 2019
That is the biggest issue with this entire situation. DeGeneres is not a member of the Black LGBTQ community. She cannot forgive Hart for what he has said, because she was no affected by it in the same way. Hart’s words were homophobic but targeted specifically at Black LGBTQ people, especially Black gay men. As a white woman, DeGeneres cannot just offer community-wide forgiveness. That is not her place.
Hart’s non-apology tour could be a signal that the Academy is planning on offering the hosting gig to him again. If so, that would be incredibly disappointing. Hart has not fully apologized or learned from his actions, and to give him the hosting gig would send the message that non-apologies are the way to go—not to mention possibly negatively impacting the Oscars’ already low ratings.
With no host set for the February date, hopefully the Academy will find a different way to proceed.
(via The Huffington Post, image: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)
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