Heart of Hart

If the Golden Globes taught us anything, it’s that not just anyone can host.  The Oscars may be more than a month away, but they are still host-less.  So, Ellen DeGeneres decided to flex her considerable power to strong-arm Kevin Hart back into the job – and strong-arm the viewing audience into accepting him.  Apparently, Ellen and Kevin are good friends, and she thinks his past homophobic rants should not preclude him from the job.  In what was presented as a spontaneous interview on her show, Ellen asked Hart about the controversy and why he stepped down.  He then rambled on and on about…well, really, about nothing.  She then allegedly surprised him by saying that she spoke up on his behalf to The Academy.  I don’t know who she spoke to at The Academy – it may very well have been a receptionist, or even a temp.  “We want him to host, whatever we can do, we would be thrilled, and he should host,” said whomever answers the phone at The Academy.

This pissed off many people – specifically gay people.  Who was Ellen to speak on behalf of the gay community?  Maybe she is friends with Kevin and forgives him, but not everyone agrees.  Don Lemon – whose opinion is germane if for no other reason than he is a black, gay man – said he doesn’t think Hart should be allowed to host.  Lemon said Hart’s past “jokes” actually do represent the views of many black fathers of gay children.  “That is a joke to Kevin.  But the truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the United States.  Somewhere, a black dad is beating his black son.”  Lemon added, “Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender.  Being an ally does.”

Let me say I don’t have a dog in this fight.  I really don’t have any strong feelings about Kevin Hart – although I stand by my earlier statement that if you aren’t tall enough to get on Space Mountain, you can’t host the Oscars.  Beyond that, I have no idea in the heart of Hart if he is homophobic or not.  What I do know is that comics will say anything for a laugh – and I suspect Kevin Hart’s core audience would laugh at homophobic comments.  So, while I don’t know if he’s homophobic, I do know he thought the comments were funny.  Likewise, I think his non-apology apology seems to be what he thinks people want to hear.  To get the gig, he has to appear contrite, so that’s what he’s doing – with a fair amount of indignation that we’d even think he was really homophobic.

The real question is, can people evolve?  I suppose they do.  Politicians do.  People like Obama and Clinton changed their stance on gay marriage as their view “evolved” (although, like comics, I think politicians play to their audience).  Ultimately, I believe in the free market.  If The Academy wants Kevin Hart to host and he wants to host, he should host.  And if people don’t like him, believe he is homophobic, or don’t buy his apology, they should not watch the Oscars.  Kevin solved the problem for us – he (again) took himself out of the running to host…for now.

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