Kevin Hart Scandal Races Through Six Phases in Less Than 30 Hours: Anatomy of a Scandal in 2018 (UPDATED)

Kevin Hart got called out today because of some ancient tweets (in the lifespan of Twitter, eight years ago is pretty ancient) that used some shitty language. As soon as it was announced that Hart would be hosting the Academy Awards, people started to look for old and damning tweets by the mega-celebrity.  And they found some. And people are really pissed. Apparently even though you can have questionable past behavior and become president. And you can be against gay rights and be a Senator, but you can’t host the Oscars if you used a certain word a long time ago.

Phase One: Thursday 5pm.

Over eight years ago Kevin Hart used to regularly use the “other” F-word and called people gay for behaving in a manner other than manly. He used it a lot. Then he stopped. Either because he realized it was shitty and disrespectful and hurtful to women and men who were actually gay, or because he realized it looked really bad to use the words, and could harm his career.  But he did stop.  Not everyone has.  We’re still in a time when plenty of comedians use the slurs on stage and on television, even their hour specials and on their albums. There are a few great comics who still explain it away saying ‘hey, I love gay people, I’m not referencing them when I use the word. It’s just a word that we all use to refer to dumb behavior.’

People who are paying attention have figured out that even if you are totally accepting of sexual preferences, using those words to refer to negative attributes is still shitty.  But for every person who understands why using “gay” or that other f-word is outdated and mean, there are far more people who still don’t get it. But it seems like Kevin Hart figured it out.  So applying todays standards to Hart’s 2011 behavior- particularly when he’s since modified that behavior seems unhelpful.

There’s also an old joke he made in 2010 about being afraid his son might be gay. In 2015 he explained the thoughts behind the joke during a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He said the joke was about his own insecurities and fears at the time.  Hart has always said he won’t apologize for anything he said without malice. There’s a record of that circulating around today too.  And that sums up phase one.

Phase Two: Friday 7pm

Enter phase two- Hart responds to the tweets.  A few hours into the internet going crazy over the discovery of the old tweets, Hart posted a response on Instagram and Twitter.  Using both a video and a caption, Hart did not apologize, and said the world has gone crazy, and urged people to stop looking for reasons to be negative and angry.  He said he is in a very positive and happy place, and works hard daily to spread positivity in the world and essentially said he stands by his record. “If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what you find,” he wrote, “that is fine with me.” He added that as you go through this life, you learn, grow and mature, and asked people. “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 that they always have to justify their past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy.”  All i do is spread positivity. If you’er not doing that then you’re not on my page.”

Phase Three and Four: Friday 11pm

Enter phase three. The Academy demands an apology, prompting a new Instagram video from Kev– phase four. According to Hart, the Academy gave him an ultimatum, apologize or we find another host.  Hart chose to pass. “I’ve addressed this several times,” he said. “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.”

UPDATE: Phase 5: Friday midnight

Phase Five- Kevin Hart steps down from hosting the Oscars, AND apologizes. Despite it being a long held dream, Kevin tweeted at midnight on Friday night that he’s stepping down. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he said. He added an apology, but not one made to save the gig. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” he wrote. “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 & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

His message seems pretty clear- the tweets are old and he’s changed, and grown, but he’s not going to follow the path that we seem to require of our celebrities. But that’s probably not going to be good enough. Knowing that a person is good now, good today, isn’t enough. For some reason, we need to not only hear our super stars say they’re sorry, we need them to show how bad they feel. To cry for us.

Phase Six- Saturday Morning.

In about 30 hours it’s all done. Nobody cares. The media has moved on. A few stories have analyzed his poor apology, and spent some ink calling Hart a dick, but otherwise, this story is over. Nobody even cares anymore if he was or is homophobic, as long as he’s not hosting the Oscars. The outrage that seemed so palpable appears to be gone. Fastest news cycle yet.

The real truth is we are obsessed with scrutinizing the behavior (past and present) of our most famous celebrities and holding them up to higher standards. It’s as if they owe us to be perfect people now that we made them famous. And none of this has anything to do with right and wrong. It seems to be about power and thrill of forcing someone to humble themselves. And the cycle doesn’t wait to examine the circumstances anymore, or get all the facts. It moves faster than ever. Is there any evidence that Hart is homophobic? Does he use demeaning language and jokes now? Nobody really knows and it doesn’t seem as if they care.

There used to be a saying that actions speak louder than words. We knew that apologies were a dime a dozen and really meant nothing. We wanted people to prove they changed by being better. But now a good solid well performed apology seems to be worth more than living right, if you want to be famous and get the big gigs. Unless…of course… you’re the President.

Maybe Ron Chernow can host the Oscars. That will be fun.

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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

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