After Twitter users resurfaced old homophobic tweets from recently announced 2019 Oscars host Kevin Hart, the comedian quickly withdrew from hosting the award show, creating lots of controversy for both Hart and the academy.
In 2011, Hart tweeted in a since-deleted tweet, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’”
He revealed that the academy asked him to apologize for his past remarks to keep his Oscars hosting gig. Although Hart withdrew from hosting the Oscars, he did apologize on Twitter.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s…this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” Hart tweeted.
In addition to apologizing, Hart shared how he was evolving. He emphasized on Twitter how he wants to bring people together and is still learning how to be more sensitive with his jokes. He concluded his Tweet by saying he hopes to be given another opportunity with the academy in the future.
Since the controversy, a number of male celebrities have stood in solidarity with Hart. Fellow entertainment host Nick Cannon took to Twitter to criticize homophobic tweets made in the past from other entertainment hosts, such as Chelsea Handler. Handler used the term “fag bird” in a 2010 tweet. He also commented similar messages to comedians Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, who both used the word “fag” or “faggot” in past tweets.
Along with the support Hart has received, there is negative feedback, too. Chad Griffin, the head of LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign, was quick to respond to the controversy on Twitter.
“You have a rare opportunity to take responsibility, teach people in this moment, & send a message to LGBTQ youth that they matter & deserve dignity & respect. You say you’ve grown. Show us. Make amends for hurtful things you’ve said & affirm LGBTQ people,” Griffin said.
Unwanted homophobic comments are nothing new for the academy. In late 2011, Brett Ratner resigned as producer for the 84th Academy Awards after uttering the words “rehearsal is for fags” during an interview with Howard Stern when promoting his film “Tower Heist.”
With all of the homophobic slurs the academy has encountered, they clearly have not taken any progressive steps in gaining back solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Controversy seems to follow the academy everywhere. April Reign, a writer, former lawyer and activist, started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite three years ago in response to an all-white slate of nominees. In 2016, the #OscarsSoWhite couldn’t be more true where only 14 African Americans won Oscars compared to the 1,612 White actors that did.
Spike Lee wrote on Instagram his gratitude for receiving the award for an Honorary Oscar. However, he stated that he and his wife would not be attending the 2016 Oscars ceremony because of the lack of diversity within the actor category.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith also expressed their decision to not attend the 2016 Oscars over Facebook.
“At the Oscars…people of color are always welcomes to give out awards…even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments,” Jada Pinkett Smith wrote on Facebook. “Should people of color refrain from participating all together? … With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment, J.”
In 2018, the academy has progressed in including diversity, but not as quick as changing times of our multifaceted society.
Reign noted how minorities don’t receive enough Oscar nominations and have trouble getting work in Hollywood. As a solution, Reign launched a digital database called Akuarel. This database “allows creatives and journalists to self-identify in various categories and allows studios, networks and media outlets to search those categories and find talented individuals from traditionally underrepresented communities,” according to Reign.
Studios and industry professionals can pay a subscription fee to use Akuarel, which provides an alternative to traditional talent agencies when searching for diverse applicants for interviews and auditions. In the directory, creative professionals can identify themselves by race, sexual orientation and disability.
Since the Oscars started in 1927, only 13 percent of Oscar winners in the past were minorities. Although, there are some publications that believe this year’s Oscars is more diverse. I disagree. The Oscars needs to create a more racially diverse set of nominations and be more inclusive of women and the LGBTQ+ community to finally become truly diverse and equal.