On Ellen, Hart said he’s long dreamed of hosting the Oscars, but the internet quickly ruined his “glory” in December by flagging offensive things he said in the past. A 2009 tweet by Hart called someone a “fat faced fag,” and a 2010 one said someone’s profile picture resembled “a gay bill board for AIDS.” The comedian’s 2010 stand-up routine focused on his fear that his son wouldn’t be straight, a sentiment reflected in another tweet that said, “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.’”
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That his was arguably the most destructive kind of homophobia—encouraging parents to reject and abuse their kids in exactly the manner that contributes to high rates of LGBT teen suicide—was widely noted.
A sincere apology in response to the current-day rehashing might have defused things. But Hart’s initial reaction to calls for his firing came instead in a self-pitying Instagram post that began, “Stop looking for reasons to be negative,” and spoke vaguely about his growth into a better person over the years. “What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY.....ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY.” The next day, he did say sorry to gay people—in the same statement in which he announced he was walking away from the Oscars job.
On Ellen, Hart related his side of that saga. His first impulse was to ignore the backlash, and his second was to get mad. The world was ignoring that he had repeatedly apologized before, including in “a very, very heavy junket where I was asked questions about homophobia based on those tweets” in 2012 and during the promotional tour for the 2015 comedy Get Hard, a movie that was widely criticized as gay-bashing. Apologizing yet again, he felt, would just add fuel to the fire.
I’ve emailed Hart’s PR firm for help finding the apologies to which he’s referring. As far as I can tell, they’re not online. What is online is a 2015 Rolling Stone article in which he explained the source of his fears about having a gay son and said, “I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.” That’s not an apology. There’s also a Get Hard Q&A in which he defends an arguably homophobic bit by saying, “Funny is funny.” That’s not an apology. There’s also a 2014 interview in which he said he doesn’t joke about gay people anymore because “I don’t want that problem. I don’t want any enemies.” That’s not an apology. In fact, each statement implies a jab at LGBT folks: You’re snowflakes.
DeGeneres has now inserted herself into the situation as a character witness for Hart, giving a full hour of her show to lobby him to take the Oscars job back. She said she called the Academy and they’d like to have him. She also said, referring to his homophobic jokes, “As a gay person, I am sensitive to all of that. You’ve already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay or beaten up every day. You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it.”