Kevin Hart‘s ‘I’m Sorry’ Isn’t Good Enough
He apologized to the LGBTQ community, but this gay demands more.
It’s an old, familiar celebrity tune, and I’m so tired of hearing it.
Every week, another celebrity is humming it. The tune is so repetitive, so predictable that you know how it’s going to go before it even begins. First, the celebrity says or does something offensive. Then the backlash kicks in. Then the celebrity goes into damage control mode and apologizes.
Kevin Hart, though, added some new measures to the tired routine this week. After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced him as the host of the 2019 Oscars, his homophobic history came back to haunt him hard. A series of tweets dating back to eight years ago resurfaced, and so did his 2010 comedy routine in which he speculated about how he’d react if his son turned out to be gay. Apparently, he would beat they boy straight.
Well, no one was laughing this past week when the Academy hired him to host the Oscars. Amid the outrage, Hart posted an Instagram video in which he refused to apologize and basically told his detractors to get a life. He’d had a similar reaction recently after facing criticism for throwing a Cowboys and Indians-themed children’s party.
Even after the Academy contacted him and asked him to apologize, he refused. If they didn’t want him as is, they’d have to find a new host.
Within hours, he tweeted that he’d stepped down as host and finally apologized for his homophobic history. Too little? Too late?
Well, it’s never too late to say “I’m sorry” — if you’re really sorry. But it’s too little if it’s not backed up by actions that show you’re truly sorry. Earlier this year, when Roseanne Barr apologized for comparing a black woman to an ape and got fired from her own eponymous sitcom, she followed it up with a bunch of excuses and interviews in which she backtracked from her apology. She seemed less sorry for what she said than for the affect it had on her career.
Megyn Kelly followed her apology for shrugging off the opposition to blackface on her now-cancelled talk show with silence and negotiations to land millions to allow NBC to sever ties to her.
What will Hart do after issuing his apology? Well, if he’s truly sorry for once upon a time being a homophobic jerk, if he’s the changed man he claims to be, he’s already had eight years to make things right. As recently as 2015, he was still making stupid gay jokes in the movie Get Hard. He could have incorporated his supposed enlightenment when it comes to gays into his comedy, become a straight advocate for the LGBTQ community to which he was basically coerced into apologizing.
Instead, he told us to man up and stop being so negative. It’s a response that I, as a gay, black man, am tired of hearing. It could be the national anthem for Trump’s America, that old “Get over it” tune that’s hurting my ears and making them bleed.
Initially, I accepted his apology and said so much in my Queerty op-ed. Now I’m rethinking that stance. This time, I’m really going to need more than “I’m sorry.” I’m going to need evidence that the homophobic beast that once reared its ugly head over and over is gone for good.
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Anyone can say they’re sorry after public opinion forces them to do so. But what Hart does next will determine whether he deserves forgiveness? His career might suffer, and he might have to work a little harder to become the billionaire he’s said he aspires to be, but Hart will be alright.
Frankly, though, I don’t wish him well. I want him to find out what it feels like to be a pariah, what it feels like to have the odds stacked against him for reasons other than his race. I want him to know what the gay community he so casually derided must go through every day of our lives. Then I want him to repent and truly mean it.
In a year of meaningless celebrity apologies, this time, I demand more. Now is the time for deeds, not just words. Let this be a lesson to all current and future celebrities. What you say today can come back and derail your career tomorrow. Call us negative and hypersensitive, but there’s no statute of limitations on being offended.
If that inconveniences you, if accountability means you must be more careful what you say and do, well, sorry… not sorry.