Let the backlash to the backlash begin! After activists dug up tweets by Kevin Hart from seven years ago that used insulting language toward LGBT people, the producers of the Oscars telecast told Hart he had to publicly apologize or lose his gig as host. Instead, Hart withdrew on his own while noting that he had apologized in the past and had changed his material in response to it.
Hart’s all-but-forced departure rankled Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che, who all but accused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science of racism in its treatment of Hart. The only cleaner black comedian than Hart, Che dryly notes, is booked up for the next three to ten years. (Watch the screen to get the punch line!) And didn’t the Academy nominate someone last year who made bigoted remarks in public without intending them as jokes?
It picks up at the 35-second mark:
“Well, that was short,” Weekend Update host Michael Che said of Hart stepping down as host after tweets from the comic with homophobic slurs in them were resurfaced.
Che went on to defend Hart, saying “Didn’t the Academy nominate Mel Gibson for an award just last year?” he asked, referencing controversial racist statements the director made a few years ago. “Also, if Kevin Hart isn’t clean enough to host the Oscars then no black comic is. The only black comic I know that’s cleaner than Kevin Hart is booked for the next 3-10 years,” Che said as a picture of Bill Cosby was shown.
Che wasn’t the only celebrity over the weekend to imply that Hollywood had suddenly turned racist. Nick Cannon unearthed tweets from other comedians that never got the same kind of public backlash that Hart received:
On Friday, Cannon resurfaced old tweets posted by comedians Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer that also used anti-gay slurs.
“Interesting,” Cannon tweeted in reference to a 2010 tweet from Handler, “wonder if there was any backlash here?”
“I’m just saying…” Cannon wrote, including an emoji with a questioning face, “should we keep going???”
Cannon’s tweets caught the attention of many including Lenard McKelvey, known better as Charlamagne tha God, co-host of the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” and actor Billy Eichner.
“Everyone grows. Everyone Evolves,” Charlamagne tweeted Saturday. “So to me it’s not about old tweets, I just want to know why some people get publicly crucified for old tweets and some don’t. Any guesses to why??”
One response to this — and Cannon heard this a lot — was that none of the above were picked to host the Oscars. Hart’s tweets were arguably harsher than the others, but that might be a matter of taste, too. The point is that tastes in comedy have changed, and perhaps a bit more sharply in this case than in other evolutions, and that even adapting to these changes isn’t enough to satisfy activists … in some cases, anyway. Only the cleanest of comedians now can pass muster, and even then perhaps only if they delete their entire Twitter feed before an Oscars gig gets announced. Say, what’s Sinbad up to in February?
At any rate, now we can look forward to a debate over the next three months as to whether Hollywood is more racist than homophobic or the other way around. I’m betting on … rising stock prices in the popcorn industry.
Addendum: I discovered by accident that I’ve been blocked on Twitter by Amy Schumer, with whom I’ve never interacted. I must have made someone’s “block list” for something. Fine by me, but since I’m no longer interacting on Twitter with anyone and I’m not in the running to replace Hart at the Oscars, it’s a moot point anyway.
Update: I inadvertently left the word “applying” out of the headline. I’ve fixed it now.