No friend to political correctness, comedian Jerry Seinfeld didn't mince words when expressing his disapproval with the Academy's recent decision to force Kevin Hart into stepping from the job as Oscar's host over past jokes he made that offended LGBTQ people.
"I think Kevin is going to be fine, but find another Kevin Hart: That's not so easy," Seinfeld told Willie Geist on NBC's "Sunday Today."
Last week, Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars over old jokes offensive to the LGBT community, most of them revolving around his fear about his son becoming gay. As the backlash online mounted, the Academy demanded that Hart publicly apologize or face firing; hours later, he declined that apology and announced he would be stepping down.
"I chose to pass. I passed on the apology," said Hart in an Instagram video. "The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I've addressed it. I've spoken on it. I've said where the rights and wrongs were. I've said who I am now versus who I was then. I've done it. I've done it. I'm not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on. I'm in a completely different space in my life."
Ultimately, Seinfeld believes, the Academy "screwed" themselves by how they handled the situation, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
"Kevin is in a position, because he is a brilliant comedian, to kind of decide what he wants to do," Seinfeld said. "He doesn't have to step down. But he can."
Seinfeld continued, "And when you look at the situation — well, who got screwed in that deal? I think Kevin is going to be fine, but find another Kevin Hart: That's not so easy. He's a brilliant guy with a movie career."
Indeed, the Academy has since been scrambling to find a solution following the Hart fiasco. Reports indicate that the Academy is considering forgoing an Oscars host entirely in 2019.
"We have been navigating these slalom gates forever," Seinfeld explained. "Look, when I started out, there were dirty comedians — well, if you want to get on The Tonight Show, you can't use any of those words. And a lot of us went, 'OK. I still want to play. I'll play.' Here's a new rule, we're cutting this out. 'OK, I'll get around that.' So, that's our thing. It's like Lindsey Vonn: Wherever you put the gates, I'm going to make them."
Jerry Seinfeld is not one to kowtow to political correctness, especially on college campuses. In 2015, he said, "I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC. They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice.' They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about."
The former NBC sit-com icon also defended Roseanne following her firing from ABC for a racially-charged tweet directed at former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.
"I didn't see why it was necessary to fire her," Seinfeld told ET. "Why would you murder someone who's committing suicide?"
"But I never saw someone ruin their entire career with one button push," he added. "That was fresh."