Oscars shock: Kevin Hart steps down as host

LOS ANGELES — Kevin Hart stepped down as Oscar host late Thursday following a crisis stemming from the comedian’s refusal to apologize for his previous homophobic comments and tweets.

“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,” Hart wrote on Twitter, before uttering words he had refused to say just hours before. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”

Early Friday, he tweeted: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The stunning move came after Hart became involved in a spiraling social media battle over his past tweets and his steadfast refusal to apologize for them.

His lack of remorse prompted an ultimatum from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He said in a video posted online he was told to apologize or have his hosting duties revoked. In the span of hours, Hart had stepped down from the prestigious awards show hosting job.

Kevin Hart

@KevinHart4real

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.

16.8K people are talking about this

The comedian, 39, wrote on Twitter: “I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

Kevin Hart

@KevinHart4real

I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.

6,707 people are talking about this

The trouble actually started shortly after Hart triumphantly announced via Instagram Tuesday that he’d be hosting the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

Shortly thereafter, several Twitter users resurfaced past tweets from Hart where he tweeted words like “homo” and “gay.” Per E! News, the since-deleted tweets date back to 2011.

An interview Hart gave to Rolling Stone in 2015 was also resurfaced. Hart had said: “Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic… Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”

One person upset with the hiring of Hart wrote in a NSFW tweet: “Fire Kevin Hart and hire a gay man instead to host the Oscars…”

Another person wrote: “Hey @TheAcademy one way to make your ratings even lower is to have @KevinHart4real and his homophobic (expletive) host your award ceremony.”

GLAAD, the media-monitoring organization, told USA TODAY Thursday that it had contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to discuss Hart’s upcoming Oscar hosting gig.

“GLAAD reached out to ABC, The Academy and Kevin Hart’s management to discuss his rhetoric and record as well as opportunities for positive LGBTQ inclusion on the Oscars stage,” the organization said in a statement. “They have not yet responded.”

Late Thursday, Hart reacted with his Instagram post.

“If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming,” Hart wrote in a caption of a video. “You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive.”

The selfie video clip Hart shared on Instagram showed him subdued and shirtless talking from a bed.

“I swear man, our world is becoming beyond crazy,” Hart said of his critics an exasperated tone. “I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me, or anger me.”

The comedian addressed the tweets he posted “years ago.”

“Guys. I’m almost 40 years old, if you don’t believe people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you,” said Hart. “If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past then…I’m the wrong guy, man.”

This response brought the next-level criticism, including Twitter comments from comedian Billy Eichner.

“This is not good. A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple,” Eichner wrote. “Hollywood still has a real problem with gay men. On the surface it may not look like it. Underneath, it’s far more complicated.”

billy eichner

@billyeichner

This is not good. A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple. Like I tweeted a few weeks ago, Hollywood still has a real problem with gay men. On the surface it may not look like it. Underneath, it’s far more complicated.

David Mack

@davidmackau

no apology no mention of the lgbt community, just imagine if this was about any other marginalised group

View image on Twitter

Even actress Jamie Lee Curtis joined in the chorus of outrage, tweeting: “Homophobia is not positivity.”

Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ equality, called for Hart to try again.

“You have a rare opportunity to take responsibility, teach people in this moment, & send a message to LGBTQ youth that they matter & deserve dignity & respect,” Griffin tweeted. “You say you’ve grown. Show us. Make amends for hurtful things you’ve said & affirm LGBTQ people.”

Chad Griffin

@ChadHGriffin

.@kevinhart4real you have a rare opportunity to take responsibility, teach people in this moment, & send a message to LGBTQ youth that they matter & deserve dignity & respect. You say you’ve grown. Show us. Make amends for hurtful things you’ve said & affirm LGBTQ people.

Kevin Hart

@KevinHart4real

Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry….I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy… https://www.instagram.com/p/BrEFNFalWgw/?utm_source=ig_twitter_share&igshid=13ebrib1x2ncl 

But Hart only continued to dig in, posting another video Thursday where he stated that the Academy had told him he needed to apologize for his past tweets, or they were “going to have to move on and find another host.”

But Hart said he wasn’t going to apologize: “I’ve moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”

“We feed into the Internet trolls and we reward them, I’m not going to do it, man,” said Hart. “I’m going to be me, and stand my ground.”

On the hosting job, Hart said, “If it goes away, no harm, no foul.”

Hart isn’t the first Oscars host to step down over the controversy. In 2011, Eddie Murphy announced he would not host the show after his producer Brett Ratner quit after Ratner made an anti-gay remark, spurring a backlash.