The end of award season is set to come to a climactic ending with Sunday’s 2020 Academy Awards, and the night promises to be a big one for many (looking at you, Bong Joon Ho and Parasite). While we can probably count on the night blessing up with more precious Brad Pitt content, one thing that definitely won’t be a thing this at this year’s show is a host smoothly guide the transition from category to category. For the second year in a row, the Oscars will have no host, and you might have Kevin Hart to thank for that.
Last year, the Oscars announced that Kevin Hart would take the stage as the show’s 2019 host. It was an honor for Hart, but it would soon devolve into a public relations nightmare. Footage of him making what many deemed to be homophobic remarks from his tweets and old comedy sets caused outrage across the country, with fans demanding the Hart step down from the position.
“One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay,” Hart said in his 2010 comedy special Seriously Funny. “That’s a fear. 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.”
Amid the firestorm of protests that erupted, Hart stepped down as the Oscars host. He appeared on The Ellen Show to speak his peace. “I know who I am,” he said on Ellen. “I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I know I’ve addressed it, I know I’ve apologized. I know that within my apologies, I’ve taken 10 years to put my apology to work. I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian that once was. I’ve moved on. I’m cultured. I’m manufactured. I’m a guy that understands now. I look at life through a different lens and because of it, I live life in a different way.”
A year later, Hart is still thinking about the controversy his words stirred, and he understands now what a huge mistake he made. "With the whole Oscars thing, there was a big gap between what I thought the problem was versus what the problem really was,” he told Men's Health. “I got ten years where I made sure not to joke or play in the way that I did back then because it was a problem. I don’t care if you’re gay or not gay. I’m a people person. I’m going to love you regardless."
It was only through intentional and open dialogue with the members of the LGBTQ+ community in his close circle that Hart was able to see the error of his ways. "It wasn’t until close friends like Wanda Sykes, Lee Daniels, and Ellen DeGeneres talked to me and explained what they didn’t hear me say that I understood. Then I was like, ‘Oh shit, I did fuck up.’ ”
The error, among others, was discussed at length in Hart's 2019 Netflix docu-series Don’t F**k This Up. In the six-part project, viewers watched Hart grapple with the many controversies that seemed to pile up all at once for him, including a cheating scandal that could have torn his marriage apart and a violent car accident that nearly left him paralyzed.
"I’m a firm believer in laying in the bed that you made,” Hart told Men's Health. “If there’s something that you did, then you did it. You know, there’s no wiggle room around it. You can address it, and then you can move on.”
And it's taken some time, but it seems like Hart has seen the errors of his ways. That's growth.