nick cannon kevin hart, tweets, homophobia, slur, defend

Nick Cannon Seems to Defend Kevin Hart’s Homophobia by Pointing Out White Female Comedians’ Use of Similar Slurs

Calling out a double standard (good!) to defend homophobia (boo).

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Last week, Kevin Hart stepped down as host of the Oscars just about 24 hours after he was first announced as having taken the gig. The Academy asked him to apologize for old homophobic tweets and standup bits, which he refused to do (though he did offer an apology, so perhaps it was just the idea of an ultimatum he was objecting to).

Over the weekend, rapper/actor/comedian Nick Cannon offered what appeared to be a defense of Hart by reposting old tweets from a number of white female comedians. Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Chelsea Handler have all posted tweets using homophobic slurs, namely the f-word. Cannon retweeted them, commenting “Interesting, I wonder if there was any backlash here…” and “I’m just saying… should we keep going???”

The implication is that there is a double standard regarding what white women can get away with vs. black men. And that’s a totally valid point and worth calling out. We, as a collective society, have proven ourselves to be highly selective in who we hold accountable for their actions and black men are often held to a much different standard. (See, for example, Casey Affleck and Nate Parker’s concurrent Oscar campaigns.)

But Cannon’s other implication seems to be a message of Everybody’s doing this, so Hart should be able to, too, which is just a terrible takeaway. Personally, I’m all for calling out these women and examining their use of harmful language. We here at The Mary Sue been critical of Silverman, Schumer, and Handler for other problematic messages, so there are definitely no free passes being given here based on their gender, their whiteness, their politics, or anything else.

But there are some factors that Cannon seems to be missing or deliberately ignoring. First, none of those women were chosen to host the Oscars. That’s an incredibly high-profile job for which a person is chosen to, in some ways, represent the Hollywood film industry. A host is chosen based on their established career so their appointment is a tacit celebration of that career. For those who work in film or care about film, it’s completely justifiable to care about who is chosen for that job, and to object to seeing certain people or behaviors celebrated.

Also, not everyone will agree, but there is an argument to be made about the context in which all of these comments were said or written. Billy Eichner, who was vocal in his criticism of Hart last week, offered his take on Cannon’s comparisons. He reiterated a point he made originally regarding Hart’s deeply homophobic messages, which go beyond just one single word.

Eichner writes that he, personally, thinks that “there are so many other words to use” that we really just shouldn’t be using this one. But he goes on:

Now, because I am a grown up and not a child, I do take context, nuance and *intention* into consideration. I think these are comedians who felt they can use that term because they have very large, dedicated gay male followings, myself included. They feel like they’re ‘one of us.’ So I think in some of these cases it was being used with what is *intended* as some sort of endearing, if irreverent, affection. And I do think there is a sizable difference between using this one word in this type of context and saying with some amount of gravity and truth that you’re going to smash a dollhouse over your child’s head if they exhibit stereotypically gay behavior.

Again, he says it’s “not a fun word” to hear, “Even when I know it’s coming from an ally – and certainly when I know that it isn’t.”

As Eichner prefaces his note, that’s just one person’s opinion, but it’s a valid one. If we’re looking for terrible opinions, we can, as always, look to Tammy:

This isn’t an instance of liberals “eating their own” because that presumes that Kevin Hart and those condemning homophobia are automatically on the same team. Are we supposed to give him a pass on homophobia because he’s presumably liberal–an idea that seems to be based solely on the fact that he works in entertainment, since he’s notoriously apolitical in his comedy? I don’t know what sort of liberal agenda is helped by ignoring hateful homophobia but that’s not any team worth being a part of.

(image: Mark Davis/Getty Images for BET)

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Author
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.