Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres — Photo: The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Ellen DeGeneres has received backlash on social media after urging Kevin Hart to reconsider hosting the 91st Academy Awards.
DeGeneres had Hart on her daytime show for an hour-long conversation, after Hart pulled out as host due to controversy over homophobic tweets from his past resurfaced.
The tweets, made between 2009 and 2011, included derogatory language about LGBTQ people and disparaging comments about sexuality.
In one of the tweets, which has since been deleted, Hart wrote: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s (sic) 2 play with my daughters (sic) doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’”
Other tweets included: “@dwadeofficial u should ask the question like this, how many ‘gay’ men sweat when they wear dress shirts because real men don’t lmao p.s fag” and “Why does @DamienDW profile pic look like a gay bill board for AIDS……..Boom I’m on fire tonight.”
Hart refused to apologize for the comments after he was announced as Oscars host, instead posting on his Instagram urging people to “Stop looking for reasons to be negative.”
Mounting criticism over both the tweets and Hart’s refusal to directly respond to them eventually led to him stepping down as host in December.
During his interview with DeGeneres Hart apologized for the tweets, but said that he didn’t want to host and have the awards ceremony be about “tweets from 10 years ago and homophobia.”
“I do not want to stand on that stage and make that night about me and my past,” he said, “when you have got people who have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive a reward.”
Hart added: “Either my apology is accepted or it isn’t. Either I can move forward as a person or I can’t. But you can’t grow as a person without mistakes. There is no perfect bone in my body. I have made mistakes and I have embraced them all because I am a better man today because of it. I want to be done with this conversation.”
DeGeneres responded, urging Hart to reconsider hosting the awards, saying, “I know you are not that guy because I know you. I think the night will be about you, and it should be about you, and you should host the Oscars, and I’m going to talk you into it.”
The comedian, who hosted the Oscars in 2007 and 2014, tweeted that Hart was “authentic and real” during their conversation, and that she was “in his corner.”
I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4real,” she tweeted.
DeGeneres also revealed that she had contacted the Academy and discussed Hart returning as host.
“They were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host,'” she said. “The academy is saying, ‘What can we do to make this happen?'”
She told Hart to ignore the “haters on the internet,” and said not to let them win.
“You have grown. You have apologised,” she said. “You’re apologising again right now… don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”
However, while DeGeneres may be backing Hart, those on social media were less than enthusiastic about her efforts.
Adam B. Vary, senior film reporter for Buzzfeed News, tweeted that “the people who brought up Kevin Hart’s past tweets — like me — were not, as Ellen characterized, ‘haters.’ The host of the Oscars had made anti-gay jokes, and LGBT people who love the Oscars were legitimately startled to see just how harsh his words were.”
And there wasn’t much love elsewhere. Journalist Mark Harris responded to Ellen’s plan to get Hart to host the Oscars with, “This is wrong.”
Ella Dawson, senior social media editor for TED Talks, reminded users that “no one member of a marginalized identity can forgive a bigot on behalf of the entire group.”
Writer-producer Louis Virtel tweeted that “if you’re not homophobic anymore, you shouldn’t mind apologizing for your past homophobia.”
Actor and writer Harry Cook didn’t mince words, calling Hart a “terrible actor with zero genuine remorse who didn’t have the decency to address his ignorance.”
The 91st Academy Awards are currently set to take place on February 24, and will air on ABC. No host — either a returning Hart or otherwise — has yet to be announced.