On Tuesday, the Motion Picture Academy announced its big-name host for the 2019 awards: comedian Kevin Hart — and immediately faced a firestorm after "hundreds" of his past jokes and tweets resurfaced. But while Hart has been deleting past tweets, in a video statement he posted on Instagram Thursday he said he's not going to get all worked up over the "craziness."
"Guys, I'm almost 40 years old," he said in a video. "If you don't believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don't know what to tell you."
Though Hart doesn't seem overly concerned about all the blowback over his role as host, The Hollywood Reporter declared the issue a full-blown "crisis" Thursday: "The Motion Picture Academy faces a new public relations crisis over its choice of Kevin Hart as this year's Oscars host as old tweets, in which Hart expressed anti-gay sentiments and used homophobic terminology and slurs, have resurfaced."
The public scrutiny of what THR reports as "hundreds" of problematic past jokes began with one particular bit back in 2010, as Yahoo explained Wednesday:
In Hart’s 2010 comedy special Seriously Funny, he did a bit that had him saying that his “biggest fear” was his son “growing up and being gay.” He said, “Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. I have nothing against gay people. 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.” He then launched into stories about his son, then 3, having his first gay moment with a friend and how he needed to “nip it in the bud” by screaming at him, “Stop, that’s gay!” Hart has since spoken about the joke, telling Rolling Stone in 2015 that it was really about his “own insecurities” as a parent, again reiterating he’s not homophobic and saying he “wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.
As quotes from that bit began to circulate online, other past comments he'd made resurfaced. THR highlights a few:
In one 2011 tweet, the comedian and movie star 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.'" In another from 2010, Hart says someone's profile pic looks "like a gay bill board for AIDS." And in another written in 2009, he calls someone a "fat faced fag."
In response, Hart has been deleting his past tweets, but not before he came under fire from folks online, including media figures, actors, and fellow comedians, including Billy Eichner.
GLAAD has also sprung into action, contacting the Academy, Hart's management, and ABC to "discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage," according to the organization's chief communications officer Rich Ferraro, THR reports.
Hart broke his silence Thursday in a video he posted on Instagram, in which he said he was "not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me."
"I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy. I'm not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I worked hard to get to the mental space that I am at now," he said in the video. "My team calls me, 'Oh my, God, Kevin, this world is upset about tweets you did years ago.' Guys, I'm almost 40 years old. If you don't believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don't know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past, then do you. I'm the wrong guy, man. I'm in a great place, a great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity."
He also added a written statement to the post: "Stop looking for reasons to be negative...Stop searching for reasons to be angry....I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people....there is nothing that you can do to change that...NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all....with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love....Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please....What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY.....ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you....Have a beautiful day."