Comedian Kevin Hart’s troubling history of homophobic stand up routines and tweets have resurfaced with the recent announcement he is to host next year’s Oscar ceremony.
While his brand of comedy hasn’t made much impact this side of the pond, his massive success in the US and a worldwide hit with the Jumanji sequel cemented him the hosting position once held by other comedians such as Ellen Degeneres, Chris Rock and Jimmy Kimmel. But for a ceremony which has striven for diversity and greater inclusiveness in the wake of previous backlashes such as the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, many are wondering why Kevin Hart’s history of homophobic comments is getting a free pass.
In one of his stand up gigs, he said “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will. Now with that being said, I don’t know if I handled my son’s first gay moment correctly. Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud!”
In tweets, he has referred to people as “gay face”, “fat faced fag”, and posted (sic), “U ever see a woman so horrible built that it makes u feel gay looking at her body? Lmao yess ol grace jones looking ass woman”, and that’s just a small selection.
Many have also pointed to Kevin Hart’s film choices as a signifier of deeper feelings. He turned down a role in the comedy Tropic Thunder as the character was gay. Hart said in an interview, “The dude…he was doing a lot of stuff in the draft that I read. It was real flagrant.” Of the films he did make, Get Hard is stuffed with ‘gay panic’ scenes and critic A A Dowd described The Wedding Ringer as a “100 minute gay joke masquerading as a buddy comedy”. Even in the soon to be released The Upside, he plays a carer so horrified at the thoughts of touching another man’s penis in order to change a catheter, he can’t even say the word ‘penis’.
It remains to be seen if this backlash will have any effect whatsoever on Kevin Hart’s hiring as the host for the biggest event in the Hollywood calendar, but it certainly shows for a ceremony aiming to be more inclusive, there’s quite a way to go.
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