I’ve said it many times in this newspaper column and on my syndicated radio shows: The past will come back to haunt you. If you’re a celebrity or a public figure, you better look through every one of your social media posts from the beginning and make sure there’s nothing offensive. And even if you don’t find it offensive, put it under the microscope and reassess it at 2018 standards.
Kevin Hart is the latest celeb to be taken down for his hateful comments. But was it deserved?
Let’s recap: Hart went on homophobic Twitter rants back in 2009 and 2010 and 2011. Previously Hart tweeted, “Yo if my son comes home & Trys 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.” Prior to that he said someone’s display pic was “like a gay bill board for AIDS.” He also called someone a “fat faced fag.”
Hart didn’t initially apologize when the tweets resurfaced this week, saying internet trolls weren’t going to get the best of him. It seemed like he was expecting a pass because he’s a comedian and making jokes. Also this week, Hart posted an Instagram video where he said society needs to lighten up. The pressure was on with the outraged mob suggesting the motion picture academy drop him as host.
Then there was a major twist in the story. Late Thursday night, Hart tweeted, “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. 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.”
It’s true that we live in an overly sensitive society. I agree that a lot of people are taking things the wrong way, seemingly just for the sake of saying they’re offended. Are they really offended or just trying to get people in trouble? Are the comments always THAT bad? I don’t think so.
In Hart’s case, yes they were.
But there do seem to be some things that aren’t OK to joke about. It seems like racism and homophobia are off-limits when it comes to people making comments. As we’ve seen, however, if you do belong to a certain group it is fair game for you to comment. And by that I mean if you’re gay it’s apparently OK to call someone a fag, and if you’re black it’s OK to call someone a nigger.
You probably expected me to write “N-word” in that last sentence because I’m not black, right? (And before you jump on me, I’m not calling anybody the name. I’m using it as an example.) After all, I’m not racist: I have Asian cousins. (How many times have we heard that as a justification for using a hateful term?)
In Hart’s situation, he only made matters worse for himself. It’s one thing to be defiant and not apologize. It’s another to then come out with a carefully crafted post that is eloquently written without ghetto spelling and grammar like he did back in the day. I’m guessing he sought help in writing his apology tweets. Too late. The damage was done.
It will be difficult for people to accept an apology when Hart – on video – said he had nothing to be sorry for. When you’re remorseful because people pressure you into feeling that way, it’s completely disingenuous and has no credibility.
Is Hart headed for a year of isolation and loss of work from the fallout? We shall see.