Two days after agreeing to host the 91st Academy Awards, comedian and actor Kevin Hart stepped down from the role after facing a public backlash for deleting homophobic tweets from 2011.
In videos posted to his Instagram account, Hart said his decision to step down was the result of an ultimatum from the Academy: apologize, or forfeit the gig.
“I chose to pass, I passed on the apology,” Hart said in the video. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it ... I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III joined Jim Braude and guest host Jared Bowen on Boston Public Radio to discuss Hart's non-apology apology, and whether the comedian handled the situation effectively.
"Had this been an issue of race, everybody would have gotten it, nobody would have equivocated it," Monroe said. "If his tweets had been racist, we would have gotten this immediately."
Price called on arguments from comedians Michael Che and Nick Cannon, who suggested the issue was not about Hart's comments, but his race. Cannon resurfaced tweets from white comedians, including Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, that contained homophobic slurs. "Interesting," Cannon tweeted. "Wonder if there was any backlash here?”
"I think the challenge of being a comedian and an artist in general is that you are vulnerable, and we all work through situations in which some of us become 'woke' later than others, and that is one piece," Price said.
"The question is, who walks him through this process?" Price continued, "so that he can get to the place where you desire for him to be?"
Irene responded with one request for Hart: "if you have indeed 'evolved,' one of the things you can say, the simplest thing to say? I am sorry... always having to repeat something like "I am sorry" to every new audience."
Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist, the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail, and a Visiting Researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University’s School of Theology. Emmett G. Price III is a Professor and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.