A while back it was announced that Kevin Hart would serve as the host of this year’s Academy Awards TV show. Something that by all accounts was something the comedian has wanted to do for some time. So it was most likely crushing to him when just a few days later he stepped down as host after internet trolls (and make no mistake about it, they’re trolls) unearthed some old homophobic jokes Hart Tweeted years before (and has since apologized) in addition to citing bits from Harts previous specials that said similar notions. Hart quickly stepped down from the hosting job stating that he didn’t want to take the focus away from those nominated for awards, and that he wouldn’t apologize again after The Academy asked him to.
Jump to this week, The Academy has not yet declared a replacement for Hart and are not sure what to do. Yesterday, Hart appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ show to talk about his new movie, The Upside and the two talked about the situation. Ellen herself a former Academy Award host herself called The Academy and tried to mend fences, she also alluded that The Academy wanted Hart back. DeGeneres stated that though there is a very vocal minority of people out there, Hart is too nice of a guy and too talented to let the trolls win.
Hart expressed that it’s beyond the Oscars and trolls, declaring that it was “an attack” and it was no coincidence that day after he was announced as the show’s host, people sorted through his social media of nearly 40,000 Tweets and dug up jokes from 2009 to use against him. Hart added that it’s not just about the Oscars, it’s about people attempting to jeopardize his career, business, partnerships, and people he employs. Wrapping things up by stating, “somebody has to take a stand against the trolls.” Ellen countered him by stating that if he doesn’t host the trolls win. As the conversation wrapped, Hart, valuing his relationship with Ellen stated “leaving here, I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation. Let me assess, just sit in the space and really think, and you and I will talk before anything else.”
Here’s the reality…The Academy Awards need Kevin Hart more than he needs them. While hosting the show used to be considered a prestigious honor, it’s not the plush gig as one might think. In addition to not being a large payday for talent it’s also a lot of work to prepare, often taking months of prep work to write and plan. Then, said host is often subject to harsh critiques by journalists and fans alike. It’s already a thankless job and add onto the current landscape of outrage culture the event just raises a lot of red flags for anyone who agrees to host.
Kevin Hart and his team know this. Hart is consistently ranked as one of Forbes’ highest-paid comedians with an earning potential of hundreds of millions of dollars yearly. Hart allowing that negative conversation to continue provides tremendous risk of that business being effected. Frankly, Kevin Hart is bigger than The Academy Awards and they lose most in this scenario. The Oscars ratings aren’t what they used to be and Hart is a bankable Hollywood star with a massive fanbase that can easily inject some life into a ceremony. The show has long been described as stuffy, boring, and out of touch. In the last few years alone its been accused of lacking diversity, needed to addressed Hollywood’s toxic masculinity, and is often seen as out of touch as far as what movies it chooses to acknowledge. While The Academy has taken steps to addressing these issues, losing Hart is just another blemish for them.
So until we all learn how to properly act with social media, Hart is taking this stance because he feels it’s what’s best for him. Also, until we start to properly use social media to build rather than destroy, we might have to live by the old adage of this is why we can’t have nice things.