I will probably never be famous enough to host the Oscars. I probably won't even be popular enough to host an Oscars party. In fact, I don't even think my cat likes me that much either. However, apparently unlike many celebrities, I have the common sense on how to manage my public image. Kevin Hart's monumental screw up of dealing with his old tweets, leading to him losing the actually-not-that-great-honor of hosting a televised back-patting by celebrities, is mind-blowing. I know I should be one of those LGBTQ writers excoriating him for thinking that assaulting a child for exhibiting behaviors that aren't gender normative, but that's the common take. I'm more interested in how so many of these celebrities end up completely messing everything up when the solution to their problem is so unbelievably simple.
It's safe to say that the majority of the LGBTQ community isn't so radicalized as to never forgive people for their past transgressions. We know that people were not always kind to our community. The more we have campaigned and educated people, the more minds we've changed along the way. Countless millions of people have gone from quite homophobic to not only supportive, but defensive of us. People who even just a few years ago said things that were homophobic or transphobic now deeply regret them now that we have appealed to their sense of decency. So of course we are going to understand that people made mistakes in the past, even comedians who said cruel and hateful things about us.
So what the hell, Kevin? How, after all these antigay scandals over the past few years did it not dawn on you how your stupid moment of stubborn pride -- where you initially refused to apologize and expressed anger at anyone offended -- would play out? How can any of these celebrities think choosing this hill to die on is gonna end any other way than with them just dying? Literally the only people in this world left who hop behind complaints about political correctness are bigots. Yes, there are people who take things way too seriously and see the most minor things as the emotional equivalent of genocide, and they're going to be the only thing left on Tumblr soon. But LGBTQ people being upset that you think beating your male child with the dollhouse they were playing with because you're scared they would be gay isn't political correctness, it's people offended at not only your homophobia, but willingness to abuse a child, something that any decent person would find offensive. So that Kevin, is the first place you screwed up.
As for how you handled that, Kevin, I have no other explanation other than you're a complete fool. No seriously, your publicist probably had to buy a crate of Maalox at Costco to deal with the heartburn you gave them with that whole debacle. First off, jumping behind the political correctness defense was bad enough, but refusing to apologize until after it was too late was just plain dumb. I mean, even if you didn't mean it, not apologizing for a homophobic joke that features child abuse as its punch line is fucking stupid. There are lots of things in my past that, if I got famous, I would have to answer for. We all do. I remember a tweet from Deray McKeeson that sums it up perfectly: "None of us are born woke." We all grow, we all change, we all get better and you said that in your Instagram video. That was great, that was the truth, and the right thing to say, but then you went and said the wrong damn thing. Then, you refused to apologize.
Everyone should know that the internet is going to come for you eventually. Remember those Tumblr types I mentioned who are perpetually offended and outraged? Maude Flanders from The Simpsons was created long before the internet was because those people have always existed, but the internet has given them a much larger and more powerful platform. Yes, those people most of the time should be told to go have a special moment of intimacy with themselves, but sometimes they are right. Every time Chelsea Handler tweets some homophobic garbage it's always answered by a major dragging by people. She jumps behind how she's done some charity and awareness work for the community but she still says antigay garbage. Sarah Silverman used to say all sorts of offensive stuff, but she's fully admitted she's wrong. Chelsea deserves criticism, but Sarah doesn't because she fully admits she was wrong then and apologized several times -- and no one without an agenda comes for her anymore. That's the thing, it's just about the apology.
We know everyone has things in their past they regret. I've defended people in the past that were both famous and suddenly famous when the internet found their old trashy things. But what happened to Kevin honestly was mostly his own fault. Yes, he did say he was wrong to make those jokes back in 2015 in a Rolling Stone interview. Good, that shows growth, but saying at the same time people are too sensitive totally blows the apology. It makes it seem insincere. Never ever say that at the same time as an apology. Seriously, that has never worked out for anybody.
The way to handle these things is obvious. First apologize for the remarks. If you've publicly apologized before, mention that you've apologized before, people will notice that. Fewer and fewer people will come for you each time you get noticed for something if your first apology or two was sincere and you stick to showing that you've gotten better. Yes, everyone will screw up again as society changes because you really can't keep up on the bleeding edge of cultural progress on everything unless that's your job or source of income. Kevin Hart could have walked away from this still hosting the Oscars if he had just played this game right -- but his 2018 actions screwed it up big time, not his 2011 jokes.
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City, and a regular contributor to The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.