Kevin Hart: How Far Does Saying Sorry Really Go?

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart is the latest celebrity to learn that what you post on social media, no matter how long ago, can come back to haunt you. Last month, after the announcement that Hart would be hosting the 91st Academy Awards, homophobic tweets that the comedian posted between 2009 and 2011 were uncovered and circulated throughout the media.

One tweet, which was deleted not long after the backlash to the tweets began, read, “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”

Following widespread criticism and the Academy’s request for an apology, Hart chose to step down from the potential hosting gig.

While many may still be against the idea of the comedian hosting the prestigious and high-profile event, Hart is not without supporters. Last week on her talk show, Ellen DeGeneres, who formerly hosted the Oscars herself, asked Hart to reconsider hosting the ceremony after personally reaching out to the Academy to consider re-hiring him.

During the interview, DeGeneres says, “So I called them. I said, ‘Kevin’s on.’ I said, ‘I have no idea if he wants to come back and host. But what are your thoughts?’ And they were like, ‘Oh my God. We want him to host. We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing, but we want him to host.’”

Unfortunately, DeGeneres’s well-meaning intentions and support for Hart has managed to cause yet another onslaught of debate. Responses to DeGeneres’s gesture ranged from proclamations about DeGeneres not having the right to pardon Hart from his transgressions to continuous upset over Hart’s apparent lack of remorse and sincerity.

As a self-proclaimed member of the LGBTQ community, CNN’s Don Lemon addressed the lack of a formal apology from Hart on a Friday CNN Tonight segment. He went on to discuss how statements like Hart’s may be meant as a joke but actually belittle the violent and traumatic experiences that many members, especially African-American members, of the LGBTQ community have to endure. According to Lemon, Hart simply issuing an apology will not be enough.

He states, “Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does.” Lemon recommended that Hart use his platform to shed light on the issue of homophobia, specifically within the black community, and take the time to listen and acknowledge the experiences of those that belong to the LGBTQ community.

This past Saturday in an Instagram post, believed to be a response to Lemon’s comments and backlash from his interview with DeGeneres, Hart wrote, “When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means.”

While Hart has not moved on his decision to not host the Oscars, despite Degeneres and others expressing their desire to see him do the show, it is clear that Hart’s comments continue to stimulate well-needed conversations about LGBTQ awareness, homophobia, and the social responsibility of celebrities. There are still differing opinions about whether or not Hart has done enough to showcase contrition for his tweets but as Hart suggested through his Instagram post, one can only assume that this has been a teaching moment for him. The question is: does any of Hart’s apologies or demonstrations of regret go beyond him simply wanting to please critics, save his career, and bury the issue? Does Hart actually plan to use what he has learned from this matter to advocate against the same homophobic mentalities he has been accused of?

Lemon is right: when it comes down to it, an apology does next to nothing. It does not prove sincere remorse for one’s actions and it does not help those that have been affected. Being an ally to the cause and the LGBTQ community would go much further in proving that Hart cares about the negative impact of his words, even if it is just for good publicity.

The thing is, you can’t force someone to show support for a cause that they are not completely on board with. Monday, on his SiriusXM radio show, Hart expressed how he “didn’t like the forcing”, referring to Lemon’s recommendation that he become an ally. Ultimately, the comedian revealed that it wasn’t his dream to do so. However, Hart went on to say, “If the fight from the LGBTQ community is equality, that’s the fight. I’m riding with you guys. I understand you.”

Hart may or may not be sincere in his current display of penitence, but it will be interesting to see how he plans to stand with the LGBTQ community in the fight for “equality” in the future. One can only hope that Hart does more than settle for the bare-minimum apologetic press tour while waiting for the issue to blow over, by stepping up and speaking out against the same behavior he is being called out for.

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