On Wednesday, Kevin Hart was announced as the host for the 2019 Oscars. On Thursday, he stepped down.
The internet was swift to dredge up a list of Hart’s homophobic tweets, some dating back to 2010. According to Hart, the Academy gave him an ultimatum to apologize or they’d find a new host. In a classic you-can’t-fire-me-I-quit scenario, Hart stepped down.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s [sic],” Hart said in a tweet. “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.”
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.
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
While Hart’s past tweets are certainly troubling, did the Academy give the same ultimatum to two-time host Jimmy Kimmel?
Kimmel has been called out before for sexist and racist skits from his past, mainly as a cohost on Comedy Central’s The Man Show. Given the #MeToo energy in full force at last year’s ceremony, many found it odd that Kimmel was the host, even with a segment in his past where he asked women on the street to guess (and feel) what was in his pants. Also, in 2017, right after Chris Rock hosted an #OscarsSoWhite-fueled ceremony the previous year, there were eyebrows raised with Kimmel putting on blackface to portray basketball star Karl Malone on The Man Show.
Just a reminder that Jimmy Kimmel did a comedy series in blackface pic.twitter.com/az9SX4z3a8
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 5, 2018
Kimmel’s sexist and racist comedic bits mainly resurfaced during his odd battle with Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this year–but it didn’t come to mind strongly enough for the Academy when they asked him to host the ceremony twice?
Fast Company has reached out to the Academy for comment.
Today’s callout culture can be a forceful tool for positive change, but also an echo chamber of selective outrage. Oddly enough, Hart’s very current controversy of throwing his son a “cowboys and Indians” birthday party (and his refusal to apologize to Native Americans) hasn’t really been mentioned in this dustup. That said, Hart’s homophobic tweets, regardless of when they were made, are inexcusable.
However, in the court of public opinion–and within the hallowed halls of the Academy–everyone should be held to the same standard. That means you, Kimmel.