On Wednesday 5 December, popular actor-comedian Kevin Hart was announced as the host for the upcoming 91st annual Academy Awards. By Thursday night the following day, he had stepped down.
The turn of events followed outcry over previous anti-gay tweets, and comments Hart made during stand-up routines nearly 10 years ago. Some of the tweets were feverishly deleted throughout the day on 6 December, leading to an Instagram video from the comedian that only made matters worse for him.
“My team calls me, ‘Oh my God, Kevin, everyone’s upset by tweets you did years ago,’” he said in that video. “Guys, I’m nearly 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. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man.”
Those words rang as a defiant non-apology for many. Hours later, Hart resurfaced with another video stating that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had given him an ultimatum: Apologise or we’ll find a new host.
“I chose to pass on the apology,” the 39-year-old actor-comedian said in the 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’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life.”
That, too, rang hollow for many. Less than two hours later, Hart announced via Twitter that he was removing himself from the gig, and he finally offered the apology everyone was looking for.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” he wrote. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.
“I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love and appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”