Forgive me if this sounds trite or preachy, but the importance of owning up to our mistakes cannot be overstated. Denials, silence, cover-ups, repudiation — all are unacceptable.
Media outlets around the globe, including ours, wrote about how Kevin Hart initially took no responsibility for having posted disgusting homophobic tweets years ago that resurfaced when he was tapped to host the Oscars last week. A day later, he deleted some of his most egregious tweets when they reappeared on the internet.
First of all, given how many times in recent memory high-profile personalities have been called out on social media for offensive tweets that have come back to haunt them, why in the world would Hart have thought that he could get away with his past indiscretions? He should have gotten out in front of the inevitable shit storm, or was he in such a serious state of denial that it didn’t even occur to him?
Note to other public figures who have embarrassing skeletons in their closet: Own up, and own up early. (Our guest column by GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis shows how best to do this.)
In Hart’s case, not only did he not fess up before it was too late, but he then failed twice to publicly apologize to the LGBTQ community and its allies even after his old tweets came to light.
When his handlers told him how upset people were over the fiasco, he defended himself in an Instagram video, saying, “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.” Essentially he wasn’t taking the blame, but shifting it to the public for not getting him.
Making matters worse, he slammed the Motion Picture Academy for giving him an ultimatum to apologize or lose the Oscars gig. The 39-year-old actor-comedian shockingly said in a video, “I chose to pass on the apology … because I’ve addressed this several times.”
Hours later, after more public shaming, he announced on Twitter that he was dropping out as Oscars host. Then he finally apologized. In my book, his concession was a case of too little too late. By not owning up either before the scandal broke or in the immediate aftermath, Hart really blew it.