KEMBURU: Hart missed opportunity of impactful apology in light of past
Opinions Column: AN OPTIMIST’S OPINION
On Dec. 4, 2018, the Academy announced that Kevin Hart would be the host of the Oscars 2019. Two days later, on Dec. 6, a series of homophobic tweets from 2009 to 2011 written by Hart resurfaced on the internet. The Academy provided him with two options: apologize or step down from the position. Then, the next day, Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars.
While one would think that the story ends there, it does not. Nearly a month after the entire ordeal began, Ellen DeGeneres showed her support toward Hart, encouraging him to host the Oscars, saying, “You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now.”
Of course, along with support for Hart has also come backlash. CNN’s Don Lemon made it clear during a segment of his show that what Kevin Hart has done thus far to make up for his words are not and will not be enough, asserting that “Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or who are transgender. Being an ally does.”
So once again, in the New Year, discussion has sprouted up, and there has been substantial support and opposition against Hart. Officially, on Jan. 9, Hart announced that he definitely will not be hosting this year’s Oscars, adding that he is done talking about the entire ordeal.
While I think that it is important to take in to account both sides of this debate over whether Hart should host the Oscars and whether he was right or wrong, I think that it is even more important to try and understand Hart’s reasoning for what he did and what he has said.
When first presented with the ultimatum of apologizing or stepping down, Hart “passed on the apology.” He claimed that he has apologized for those tweets multiple times in the past, and that he has since grown and learned from his mistakes. In his interview with Ellen, he further revealed his perspective. Hart said that the unearthing of these tweets a couple days after it was announced that he was going to be the host of the Oscars was no accident. Instead, he claimed that it was “a malicious attack on my character … an attack to end me.”
But, an article by Vulture is disputing his claim of past apologies. The article did an in-depth investigation into Kevin Hart’s past in order to deduce whether he had actually apologized for his tweets. The outcome of this investigation is the following: while it is clear that Hart has discussed his thoughts on homophobic material in the past five years, it is not clear that he has ever apologized or simply said that he was sorry for what he has said.
In my opinion, the only time that Hart truly apologized for was in his interview with Ellen, where he said, “Openly I say, I am wrong for my past words.” This apology was one that was due a lot earlier than when he did finally say it. And while there is no doubt that it was not a coincidence that his homophobic tweets came out only a couple days after he was announced to be the Oscars’ host, Hart’s choice to make himself the victim in this situation is not something that I agree with.
There have been many other people who have been hurt by things that they have said in the past. A prime example is YouTube star Jack Maynard, who appeared on, but was pulled out of British TV show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” after certain homophobic tweets of his were found on the internet. Maynard later apologized for what he had said and has come out of the controversy relatively unharmed.
This is not to say that everyone who has tweeted, posted or messaged something wrong or rude in the past must be punished for it for the rest of their life. I truly believe that people grow, and as times evolve, people evolve with them. Once an apology is made, it is not right for an individual’s words to be constantly held over their heads.
And while Don Lemon did say that apologizing does not really have any substantial impact on the world, I think that a celebrity’s apology could. Many people spend their days on celebrities’ Instagrams and Twitters, and many young people idolize certain figures. When a celebrity apologizes and acknowledges their wrongdoings and their growth, the situation becomes not only a learning lesson for themselves, but one for the millions of people watching them.
Hart had the opportunity to do that for himself and for the people around him, but he chose to paint himself as the victim instead.
Anusha Kemburu is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in political science. Her column, “An Optimist’s Opinion”, runs on alternate Thursdays.
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