It took only a few days last week for comedian Kevin Hart to be announced as the next host of the Oscars, get pilloried for past "homophobic" tweets and jokes, and announce his resignation. But while Hart still faces a backlash mounted by activists, journalists, and even some of his peers, Saturday Night Live has come to his defense. On Saturday, "Weekend Update" host Michael Che called out the Academy for its unequal treatment of Hart, which he presented with some strong racial undertones.
The outrage over Hart's past tweets and jokes, most dating from 2009-2011, initially focused on a bit from 2010 that Hart has since publicly addressed a few times already. Yahoo reported 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 public scrutiny ratcheted up, reportedly "hundreds" of his past tweets came to light, and began to disappear, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which noted a few of the ones critics deemed as more evidence that he's "homophobic":
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."
Amid criticism from his peers, pressure from GLAAD, and demands by the Academy that he must publicly apologize (again) or step down, Hart chose the latter.
On Saturday, after a pro-global warming bit, Che addressed the Oscars hosting fiasco and pointed out some problematic aspects of the Academy's history of handling offensive comments.
"Well, that was short," he said pointing to a graphic of Hart. "Kevin Hart had to step down as host of the upcoming Academy Awards because of homophobic tweets from 2011."
"But didn’t the Academy nominate Mel Gibson for an award just last year?" he asked, a reference to Gibson's infamous anti-Semitic comments from years ago. "Also, if Kevin Hart isn’t clean enough to host the Oscars then no black comic is. The only black comic I know that’s cleaner than Kevin Hart is booked for the next 3-10 years." You can probably guess who's picture came up then.
After revealing in an Instagram video post on Thursday that the Academy called on him to publicly apologize for his past comments and that he'd decided to "pass," he announced late that night that he was stepping down.
"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....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," he wrote in a series of tweets. "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."
Prior to the announcement, Hart posted another video on Instagram in which he asked everyone to "stop searching for reasons to be angry."
"I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy," he said in the video. "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. 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."