Why Kevin Hart had to go as Oscars host

Hart was reportedly given an “ultimatum” by the Academy to apologize, which didn’t exactly need another own goal after #OscarsSoWhite, the “Best Popular Film” debacle, and declining ratings. The viewers who still tune in include a fervent gay fan base (Hi!), who will want to watch Lady Gaga perform “Shallow” in peace. And, in retrospect, how could Hart have possibly presided over a cinematic year that includes such L.G.B.T.Q.-flavored films as “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “The Favourite,” and “Boy Erased,” the last about a gay teen whose parents send him to conversion therapy?

I can’t solve the problem of how accountable comedians should be for insensitive jokes from years ago (although 2010, which Hart described as “days of old,” wasn’t exactly pre-Stonewall). I can only tell you how my skin crawled and my heart sank as I read Hart’s “jokes.” There’s a specific brand of homophobia—fear of gayness in your own children—that is so hurtful, because its implication is that love is contingent upon fear. Anyone who spent his or her childhood trying to police “homosexual tendencies”—say, the urge to hoard cassette tapes of Oscar-winning songs—feels the sting of Hart’s words, delivered in the spirit of “I’m just saying what every father thinks.”