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GLAAD Responds to Kevin Hart’s Oscars Ousting: He “Shouldn’t Have Stepped Down; He Should Have Stepped Up”

Though that presumes he had it in him to do so.

kevin hart, oscars, fired, step down, apology, glaad, homophobic, gay

It’s been a whirlwind of a 24 hours for Kevin Hart’s Oscars role. If you missed it, the Cliffs Notes version is that shortly after he was announced as host for the 2019 awards show, Hart began deleting old, extremely homophobic tweets, which people were using to express disappointment over the decision to hire him in the first place.

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He took to Instagram to offer a truly terrible response, saying those people were “looking for reasons to be negative” and “angry,” rather than believing that people could have a genuine problem with the homophobia he spent years spewing both on Twitter and on stage. The Academy asked him to apologize, he refused, and he stepped down as host, while … offering up an apology.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO & President of GLAAD, told CNN she was surprised by Hart’s decision to step down. The tweet screencap/backlash/firing routine has become a common pattern lately, and that’s how Hart seems to have viewed what happened, reducing it to the acts of “internet trolls.”

But this, Ellis says, “wasn’t the conclusion I think everyone would have liked.” Instead, she says, “We were hoping this was going to turn into a teachable moment,” she said, “that Kevin Hart would still be hosting the Oscars and he would be using this moment to show, not only his evolution around the LGBTQ community, but also to then use the Oscar stage…to help build unity and awareness around the LGBTQ community and how we are marginalized in this country.”

In an official follow-up statement, Ellis said that “Kevin Hart shouldn’t have stepped down; he should have stepped up.”

She continued, “Hart’s apology to LGBTQ people is an important step forward, but he missed a real opportunity to use his platform and the Oscars stage to build unity and awareness. We would still welcome that conversation with him. The Academy has recently made significant strides in featuring diverse talent onstage and they should now double down on that commitment as they look for a new host.”

It would have been wonderful if Hart had “stepped up” and “built unity” but honestly, I don’t think he was ever going to have that in him. The apology he issued was very well-crafted, and that’s not nothing. But it’s pretty clear it was worded by PR professionals, not him. Again, I appreciate him offering it. But when it comes to his words, I don’t believe he really understands why people are upset.

In fact, he seems to view himself as some sort of persecuted hero.

Hart spent years casually and frequently spewing terrible homophobic slurs, and beyond that, he had full stand-up bits about his fear of being gay and his fear of his son being gay, going as far as to joke about assaulting his son if he were gay. To dismiss people for being upset over those things as “trolling” and faux outrage means that he still really doesn’t understand why his words and his messages were so hurtful.

Also, to say that people had to go “looking for reasons to be angry” presumes that people didn’t remember when he said these things in the first place. Why would we have forgotten?

And as Billy Eichner so perfectly put it, this isn’t a matter of bad jokes; Hart’s framing of his homophobia was deeply-rooted, and it was the foundation for a lot of his bits, not just a misguided punchline.

Best case scenario could have been that Kevin Hart brought in a super diverse team of writers–all big awards show hosts have writing teams anyway, and he could have expanded his team to include unique voices–to create that “teachable moment” through empathy and humor.

But on the other hand, for whom is that the “best case”? Kevin Hart? Realistically, no one is entitled to a position like this, and many of the people calling him out for his horrible tweets and comments were making the point that perhaps Hart didn’t deserve this job in the first place.

(via Deadline, image: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for The Wall Street Journal and WSJ. Magazine)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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