Kevin Hart has stepped down as the host of the 2019 Oscars amid a slew of backlash over years-old homophobic tweets that recently surfaced.
‘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,’ the comedian tweeted Thursday night. ‘I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.’
His apology, however, has come too little too late after he revealed earlier in an Instagram video that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences had given him an ultimatum: apologize for the comments or they would seek a new host.
Hart responded to the ultimatum in an Instagram video in which he asserted he chose to ‘pass on the apology’ because he had ‘addressed this several times’.
‘I just got a call from the Academy and that call basically said, ”Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old or we’re going to have to move on and find another host.” I’m talking about the tweets from 2009 and 2010,” the 39-year-old said in the Instagram video before stepping down.
‘I chose to pass on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were.
‘I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life.’
This came after tweets dated from 2009 to 2011 surfaced in which the comedian spewed blatant anti-gay rhetoric.
In 2011, he wrote 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.”
The comedian has since deleted the tweets, but that wasn’t before screen captures began circulating online, gaining widespread criticism.
Earlier in the day, Hart responded to criticism in a way that further inflamed backlash just two days after he was named host of the upcoming Academy Awards.
He wrote on Instagram that critics should ‘stop being negative’. In an accompanying video, a shirtless Hart lounging in bed warily said he wasn’t going to ‘let the craziness frustrate me.’
‘I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,’ said Hart, who added, in all-caps: ‘I love everybody.’
His refusal to admit fault and apologize for the tweets sparked public outcry for the removal of his hosting gig.
GLAAD, the advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, said it had reached out to Oscars broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and Hart’s management to ‘discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record.’
Hart’s attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act.
In the 2010 special Seriously Funny, he said ‘one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.’
‘Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will,’ Hart said in the routine.
Though he refused to apologize for his comments twice, by Thursday night he finally conceded.
‘I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again,’ Hart tweeted.
Comedian and actor Billy Eichner was among those on social media who were disappointed with Hart’s response.
‘This is not good. A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple,’ Eichner said. ‘Like I tweeted a few weeks ago, Hollywood still has a real problem with gay men. On the surface it may not look like it. Underneath, it’s far more complicated.’
The film academy on Tuesday announced Hart as host to its February ceremony.
It’s not the first time an Oscars host has been forced to answer for anti-gay remarks.
Ahead of the 2012 Academy Awards, producer Brett Ratner, who had been paired with host Eddie Murphy, resigned days after using a gay slur at a film screening. Murphy soon after exited, as well.