Ellen DeGeneres Forgives Kevin Hart for His Homophobia, Says He Should Host Oscars

Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres, seated and talking, on the set of The Ellen Show.
Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres discuss whether or not he will host the Oscars on The Ellen Show. (screenshot via YouTube)
Kevin Hart's past homophobic remarks are back under Twitter's microscope after Ellen DeGeneres practically begged him to host the Oscars on "The Ellen Show"

Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most powerful openly gay celebrities in Hollywood, really really wants her pal Kevin Hart to host the 2019 Oscars, despite all of the jokes the comedian has made at the expense of the LGBTQ community.

During a televised heart-to-heart confab with Hart on The Ellen Show  that was aired Friday, January 4, DeGeneres urged Hart to reconsider his decision in December to step down.

Hart, the star of such cinematic gems as as Get Hard and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, told DeGeneres he was “evaluating” their conversation and he’d get back to her.

“Let me assess — just to sit in the space and really think — and you and I will talk before anything else,” he said.

Clips from the show, which were released prior to the broadcast, made the rounds on the internet, where commenters staked out strident positions, both pro and con, on Hart’s appearance and DeGeneres’s advocacy.

Out Magazine writer Tre’vell Anderson, who identifies as a “Black queer someone,” seemed to sum up the feelings of many in the LGBTQ community when she tweeted, “Ellen can’t and doesn’t speak for me.”

Others questioned whether Hart had truly apologized for his comments, some of which he’d made ten years ago. The objectionable material included his use of the word “fag” on Twitter, as well as a comedic bit in which he discusses his young son’s sexuality and observes, “Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud.”

DeGeneres is willing to live and let live. Katie Herzog, a columnist for the Seattle weekly The Stranger who’s openly gay, backed DeGeneres, tweeting, “If Ellen gets canceled over this I will get a boyfriend and join the Westboro Baptist Church.”

Rob Schneider, former Saturday Night Live regular who starred in the 1999 flick Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, came to Hart’s defense with a supportive tweet that noted, “Comics are the ones who are supposed to say the horrible things we all think but don’t.”

DeGeneres, who hosted the Oscars in 2014, seems to feel Hart can endure last month’s outrage tsunami. She told him she’d contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to ask if they’d take him back.

She told Hart the answer was gushingly affirmative.

“And they were like, ‘Oh, my God, we want him to host! We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong. Maybe we said the wrong thing but we want him to host. Whatever we can do we would be thrilled. And he should host the Oscars,'” she said.

The Academy hasn’t announced a replacement for Hart, which led many to speculate that the DeGeneres–Hart episode was staged as a trial balloon.

(Oddly, in an interview with Variety earlier in the day that the conversation with DeGeneres took place, Hart dismissed the notion of hosting the Oscars after all, saying, “I don’t believe in going backwards.”)

Hart turned self-pitying at times in the Ellen Show  segment, which occasionally seemed like an odd form of self-parody reminiscent of The Sammy Maudlin Show, a classic SCTV spoof of Hollywood chat shows wherein self-important celebs paraded their neuroses and paranoia in front of the cameras.

The star occasionally sounded like a conspiracy theorist.

“It’s tough for me, because it was an attack,” Hart told DeGeneres. “This wasn’t an accident. This wasn’t a coincidence…that the day after I received the job that tweets just somehow manifested from 2008.”

Those Tweets weren’t hard to find, because Hart had not deleted them. Yet he maintained that their re-emergence was part of a grand plan to knock him off his celebrity pedestal.

“Oh, my God, this was to destroy me,” he said. “This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships, my production company, and the people that work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that have been invested in me. It’s bigger than the Oscars. It’s about people that are out there now that are finding success…in damaging the quote-unquote celebrity.”

Bigger than the Oscars? Hart could have avoided much of this public paddling by giving a more sincere apology. Deleting his homophobic tweets long ago wouldn’t have hurt.

Kevin Hart can say whatever he wants. He can make jokes about any subject under the sun. And it’s hard to defend the Twitter outrage crowd that’s quite obviously motivated by schadenfreude.

But as Front Page Confidential demonstrated in a column last year on the so-called Trump effect, the First Amendment can’t shield anyone from being pilloried on social media — particularly once one’s foot is inserted into one’s mouth and the proper measures are not taken in order to remove it.

For Further Reading:
“Bigoted Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg, BBQ Becky, and Other Textbook Cases of the ‘Trump Effect’”

About Stephen Lemons

Stephen Lemons is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering everything from government corruption to white-supremacist gangs. In addition to Front Page Confidential, his work has appeared in Phoenix New Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine.

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