Frontrunner Friday: The Golden Globes and Kevin Hart make for the most tumultuous awards season kickoff ever
It’s been a week, hasn’t it?
On November 29th I sent a call out to Film Twitter as to who they wanted to see host the Oscars since it was getting pretty late in the season to be without one. I got a lot of responses. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. So many great suggestions. Even Captain America, Chris Evans, chimed in and suggested Robert Downey Jr. Then, on December 5th an announcement came – not from the Academy in any official way (although they confirmed it later) – from comedian Kevin Hart via Instagram. He revealed that he had been asked to host and accepted.
I knew Kevin Hart’s history of homophobia in his stand-up including his “biggest fear in life” of having a gay son from his 2010 Seriously Funny comedy special. He gave almost apologies that never settled right. A cursory look into his Twitter history revealed that his commentary was not merely a stand-up routine but a history of consistently, and extremely, anti-LGBTQ real world comments that blew up the internet over the last two days.
I immediately posted my thoughts on Twitter about The Academy hiring someone to represent a show that is watched by so many LGBTQ people and women (his domestic abuse history and infidelity are documented in his own memoir). Then that took off, landing on IndieWire first then with every major and minor outlet having the conversation of Hart’s validity as an Oscars host.
Hart responded, unfortunately in the worst way possible, blaming others for being “negative” and searching into his past. He claimed to be a different person while he quickly tried to delete the dozens of anti-LGBTQ comments from his Twitter.
Yesterday, the Academy gave Hart an ultimatum: apologize to the LGBTQ community or step down. Hart – who said he had grown and matured since those comments – publicly refused to apologize and last night stepped down as host.
This has been a trying couple of days. As a member of a disenfranchised minority (but still male and white, two of the three holy trifecta), was it right for me to go after Hart like I did? Like others after who jumped who on the bandwagon with pitchforks did? I’ve had a lot of conversations in the last 24 hours that reveal a classic truth: a rising tide lifts all boats. I could have taken the situation with Hart not simply as a chance to condemn but one to provide positive assistance. Others with a much higher profile than myself, like Billy Eichner, have begun that process. But there is so more to do. I think the last two years have stretched out the limits of what people will tolerate from others; where the line is between fighting for and demanding equality and respect and allowing for second chances, growth and positive moves forward. This creates reactionary, explosive confrontation that all but eliminates the chance for conversation. I’m guilty of that myself. Although I wish that Hart’s final statement and apology had been his first, it still exists. It is an olive branch. You can dismiss it as his publicist crafting a careful message (admittedly, I commented that it was) but it’s still the right message. I honestly think that there is a place where Hart could return as host, I really do. It might seem crazy but it’s exactly the kind of remedy to the toxic brew that erupted over the last few days.
It’s easy to dismiss the Oscars as frivolous or superficial but it’s still one of world’s biggest stages for inclusion and opportunity. In 90 years the Academy Awards have had just five non-white hosts: Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg (4x) and Chris Rock (2x). Only Goldberg and Rock hosted on their own. Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres are the only women to have hosted the show solo. This is the larger conversation, one that is ongoing. Right now, The Academy alone has the power to change this if they are willing to pivot positively after this fallout.
So, here we are once again without a host. Hopefully The Academy can find someone who actually likes the Oscars and the audience that watches them. Someone that can bring people together instead of divide. But that’s not all on a host, it’s also on the audience themselves to build their part of that bridge.
Next page: The Golden Globe nominations and Frontrunner Friday…