Kevin Hart Responds, But Did He Apologize in the First Place?

Sunday January 6, 2019

Whether or not Kevin Hart will be tossing quips at the Hollywood elite at the Dolby Theatre on February 24 remains to be seen, but the controversy about him hosting the Oscars continued when he tweeted a veiled response to criticism by CNN's Don Lemon yesterday.

On his show Friday night, Lemon took on Hart's appearance on Ellen Degeneres' talk show earlier that day. The point of Hart's appearance on the show was to promote his new film, "The Upside," due out January 11; but the headline grabbing upshot was that Hart saw himself as the victim in the December snafu that occurred when he was asked to host the awards, only to bow out days later when homophobic tweets by the actor were brought to the public's attention. Ellen revealed that she called the Academy and asked that Hart be reconsidered for hosting duties and claims they were willing to talk about the possibility.

But whether or not Hart's case was helped by his appearance is pretty much up in the air. The New York Times revealed that it was "unclear whom DeGeneres spoke to. The academy did not respond to a request for comment and has not announced a replacement host for Hart."

The most incendiary of Hart's past remarks was a 2011 tweet (since deleted) in which he wrote: "Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay.' "

As the website pointed out, "Lemon's appeal to Hart was clear, concise, and clearly heartfelt: 'Kevin, if anything this is the time to hear other people out, to hear why they might have been offended. I don't see any meaningful outreach to the community.... and now you want the conversation to end.' He also noted that there's nothing helpful about Hart's decision to continuously frame himself as the victim in this situation, an assertion that Hart seems to have responded to by publicly playing the victim yet again."

This morning, Hart responded to Lemon with a tweet that emphasized that the learning experience is key to professional success, making a veiled reference to Lemon when discussing "a news anchor or a journalist."

By far the most contentious point is whether or not Hart apologized in the first place. When asked by Variety in an interview published yesterday, if he could cite an apology, Hart said: "[W]hen people say, 'Yo, I can't find it,' well, go ask the individual who dug up the stuff from 2009 to go do the same. I can't put that energy into something that's in my past. I can't put that energy into negativity."

Lemon also cited a Vulture story that recounts Hart's non-apologies over the years, pointing out that Hart no longer targeted the LGBTQ community in his routines because things "have really changed between where comedy is now and where it used to be."

In a 2014 Playboy interview, Hart said: "I'm not a political guy. I don't really deal with Democrats or Republicans. I don't find that funny. And I don't talk about the gay community, be it male or female. No thank you! It's such a sensitive subject. I've seen comics get into serious trouble by joking about gay people. It's too dangerous. Whatever you say, any joke you make about the gay community, it's going to be misconstrued. It's not worth it."

And in 2015 Hart told Rolling Stone: "I wouldn't tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren't as sensitive as they are now. I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren't necessarily big deals, because we can. These things become public spectacles. So why set yourself up for failure?"

In concluding her piece, Vulture's Megh Wright wrote: "To be clear, Hart has addressed, or at least acknowledged, the criticism about his homophobic material — or his thoughts on homophobic material in general — a handful of times over the past five years or so. Even taking into account his tweet from a month ago, it's simply inaccurate to say that Hart has apologized for or sincerely reckoned with it in a meaningful way until his Ellen interview, when he acknowledged publicly that it was 'wrong.' But for Hart to couch his statements with insistence that his apologies already happened long ago in some easily Googled article or clip — and more, for DeGeneres to perpetuate that claim — shows that Hart has no intention of truly owning up to, and evolving from, his past mistakes."

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