Earlier this week, we learned that Kevin Hart had signed on to host the 2019 Oscars. Apparently, it was difficult to find someone to take the gig, but for Hart, he said it was a dream job. But almost immediately after Hart was announced as the host, some of his old homophobic jokes surfaced. Rather than apologize for jokes that were in bad taste, Hart dug in his heels, forcing matters to come to a head with the Academy, who reportedly issued him an ultimatum to either apologize or lose the gig. It looks like Hart chose to lose the gig, although oddly he then issued an apology online:
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. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
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. — Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
What’s bizarre (aside from Hart reportedly refusing to apologize and then apologizing only after he lost the job) is that this debacle could have been avoided from the get-go if the Academy had been smarter about the whole thing in the first place. They should have done a simple Google search for controversy in Hart’s comedy, and then asked him to do an interview with a trade like THR or Variety where he explains those past jokes, acknowledges that they could be viewed as hurtful, apologize for hurting people, and then move on. Instead, it was a clusterfuck for everyone where the Oscars are back to being without a host and Hart doesn’t get a job he wanted.
And it’s not like finding a host is going to be any easier. It’s not about “PC culture run amok” or “No one can take a joke” as much as hosting the Oscars is an impossible situation. You’re basically trying to cater to two audiences who are on opposite ends of the spectrum. In the room, you have to please the Hollywood crowd and not make them feel bad about a bunch of rich and successful people giving each other awards. But for the people at home, you have to snark with them and let them know you’re on their side rather than being a Hollywood sycophant. And at the end of the day, TV critics the following morning will still probably criticize your performance. I can understand why the Academy plowed ahead with hiring Hart before doing any kind of research. They’re desperate, and that desperation is only going to deepen as they get closer to the ceremony.
The 91st Academy Awards will be on Sunday, February 24th at 8pm.