Kevin Hart has addressed escalating concerns over a long history of hate speech and derogatory jokes about the LGBTQ community on social media, resurfaced in national news after he was named host of the Oscars on Thursday.
Hart acknowledged that his team phoned urgently saying people were upset about a tweet from “eight years ago. I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” Hart posted in a video to Instagram.
Dating as far back as 2009, the tweets seemed to bubble furiously to the top of timelines across the web when industry types and film fans connected that Hart would take the stage for an annual event sacred to American women and gay men, as well as cinephiles and show business brass. It was also not lost on many that this year could see a number of LGBT-themed films sweep nominations.
“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,'” Hart wrote in a since-deleted tweet, that made rounds in blog write ups and tweet threads as soon as Wednesday morning.
GLAAD, a media watchdog that protects and promotes dignified representation of queer people, reached out to Hart, the film academy and ABC, which airs the telecast. They endeavored to “discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion.” Neither the Academy or ABC responded. Nor did Hart, though his Instagram post came late on Thursday.
Neither Hart’s spokespeople, the Academy nor ABC have responded to Variety‘s requests for comment for the past 24 hours.
The tweets contain incendiary and mocking language, like one pondering why actor Damien Wayans’ avatar looked like “a gay bill board for AIDS.” Another asked why producer and actor Dwayne L. Brown had photos of Hart on his phone.
“What r u some type of FAT F-G that takes pics of small black men all day?” the tweet said.
In response, comedian and actor Billy Eichner said “many of us have jokes/tweets we regret. I’m ok with tasteless jokes, depending on context. What bothers me about these is you can tell its not just a joke-there’s real truth, anger & fear behind these. I hope Kevin’s thinking has evolved since 2011.”
Some more examples live on Hart’s feed:
His sentiments may not go over well with dolled-up attendees to Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on Oscar Sunday, where several high-profile depictions of queer people are likely to be celebrated — like the female love triangle of “The Favourite” in Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz; Melissa McCarthy’s take on Lee Israel in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; the stacked cast of gay conversion therapy drama “Boy Erased”; Rami Malek’s turn as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and so on.
This is not the Academy’s first dust-up with hate speech. Eddie Murphy famously stepped down as Oscar emcee in 2011 when the show’s executive producer (and longtime Murphy collaborator) Brett Ratner was fired for saying rehearsal in film production “is for fags,” during an interview with Howard Stern.
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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