When I was a younger man, I had a bad habit of continuing to argue a point even after I long realized I was wrong. After a while, it becomes a matter of pride and resentment of having to concede.
Such was the case for superstar comedian Kevin Hart, who, in his new Netflix docuseries, “Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up,” acknowledges that he handled his “gay joke” issue, which led to him giving up his spot hosting the Oscars, all wrong.
For those who missed it: Last year, Hart was tapped to host the 2019 Oscars ceremony until near-decade-old homophobic tweets of his were unearthed and the backlash—or rather, his refusal to apologize for his past words after the uproar—ended in him backing out of what he once called “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Hart originally responded to the backlash surrounding his 2011 tweets saying, “stop looking for reasons to be negative...Stop searching for reasons to be angry. “Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. if you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as people get older, I don’t know what to tell you.” I remember tweeting in response: “OMG, if you’re not going to do the smartest thing and just apologize, at least do the second smartest thing and SHUT THE F**K UP!”
I mean, I get it. I imagine that for people with huge platforms, it could feel tedious and intentionally sabotaging to have past words from before they were household names thrown back in their faces now that they are. Hell, I’m nowhere near famous and even I thank the heavens that I didn’t have a twitter account a decade ago and I check my Facebook memories every morning with my “delete” finger on standby. But I also believe that examining the way our usages of language and humor, which previously were been deemed socially acceptable, may actually be damaging to the well being of the marginalized, will ultimately to more good than harm. Sometimes, the road to progress is paved with lessons learned the hard way.
Thankfully, his tune has since changed.
“I missed an opportunity to say simply that I don’t condone any type of violence in any way, shape or form to anyone for being who they are,” he said. “I fucked up. ... Instead, I said, ‘I addressed it.’ I said, ‘I apologized.’ I said, ‘I talked about this already.’ I was just immature.”
So here’s to growth and a hope that he continues on the right path.