Two days after Kevin Hart announced he was hosting the 2019 Academy Awards, the comedian abruptly stepped down from the gig after a series of past homophobic tweets recently resurfaced.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s [sic],” Hart wrote on Twitter. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
After Hart’s high-profile gig was announced, multiple celebrities and other critics noted some of his past, since-deleted tweets such as, “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 Hollywood Reporter noted, Hart had previously called someone a “fat faced fag” and remarked than someone’s profile pic looked “like a gay billboard for AIDS.”
After seeing this @benfraserlee tweet, I did a search for every time Kevin Hart tweeted "fag," "homo," or "gay." It was…a lot. And he seems to have basically stopped tweeting those words after 2011 — i.e. the year his first stand-up movie became a hit. https://t.co/P8nTOilFgx pic.twitter.com/6uzPhnvt4F
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) December 5, 2018
Before stepping down, Hart pushed back against his critics on Instagram Thursday night. “Stop looking for reasons to be negative,” he wrote. “Stop searching for reasons to be angry … I work hard on a daily basis to bring positivity to all … Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive.”
In another video, Hart claimed that the Academy called him and asked him to apologize for the jokes or he would be removed as host. “The reason why I passed is I’ve addressed this several times,” Hart says. “I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it.”
In 2010’s Seriously Funny, he told the audience, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. . . . Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.” This leads into vignettes in which Hart reacts to imagined signs of Hendrix’s blossoming homosexuality with interjections of “Stop, that’s gay!” In 2015, by which time his profile had risen significantly, Hart addressed the comments in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now,” he said. “I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can.”
It’s unclear who will replace the comedian at next year’s Oscars, set to take place on February 24th.