After months of speculation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed December 5 that comedian Kevin Hart would be taking on the job of Oscars host for the upcoming 91st Academy Awards. The gig will be Hart’s first time hosting the Oscars, a massive step up from his gigs hosting ceremonies like the BET Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the MTV Movie and TV Awards. However, Hart’s hiring is being met with some backlash online from film writers and Oscar pundits.
Erik Anderson, the founder of Awards Watch, took to social media shortly after Hart confirmed his hosting duty to call out the comedian for his controversial past. The awards prognosticator wrote, “Considering how many of the Oscars’ biggest fans are women and gay men it’s quite something for the Academy to hire a guy who beat one wife, cheated on another when she was eight months pregnant and said one of his biggest fears is his son growing up and being gay.”
Hart publicly admitted in December 2017 to cheating on wife Eniko Parrish while she was pregnant earlier that year. In his 2017 memoir “I Can’t Make This Up,” Hart admitted there were times when his marriage to first wife Torrei Hart became violent. But it’s Hart’s controversial comments on homosexuality that are resurfacing the most in the wake of his Oscars hosting being confirmed.
Benjamin Lee, film writer and journalist for The Guardian, shared a polarizing bit from Hart’s 2010 comedy special “Seriously Funny” in which he joked about how he would react to his son growing up as a gay man.
“One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay,” Hart said in the special. “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.”
Lee accompanied Hart’s quotes with the caption, “And the Oscar for most homophobic host ever goes to…” In that same special, Hart performed a skit where he looked back at times his son gave off “homosexual tendencies,” to which Hart joked that he would yell at his son, “Stop, that’s gay!”
Hart told Rolling Stone in 2015 he would not make the same joke again and that the quote had everything to do with his own insecurities than with taking aim at the LGBTQ community. Regardless, the joke has remained a point of contention in Hart’s career. The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw even referenced it while debating whether or not Hart was the right Oscar host in a post titled “Can Kevin Hart Tiptoe Through the Oscars Minefield?”
As others observed online, Hart was accused again of being homophobic after the release of his 2015 comedy “Get Hard,” in which he starred opposite Will Ferrell. At the time of the film’s release, Hart, Ferrell, and Warner Bros. were criticized for numerous homophobic prison jokes in the movie. Given this year’s Oscar race includes queer films like “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “Boy Erased,” plus movies about gay icons such as Freddie Mercury (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and starring gay icons like Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”), Hart being hired as host stands out even more.
In a statement confirming his Oscars hosting duty, Hart wrote, “I will be sure to make this year’s Oscars a special one. I appreciate The Academy for the opportunity…now it’s time to rise to the occasion.” The 91st Academy Awards air February 24, 2019.
Considering how many of the Oscars’ biggest fans are women and gay men it’s quite something for the Academy to hire a guy who beat one wife, cheated on another when she was eight months pregnant and said one of his biggest fears is his son growing up and being gay.
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) December 5, 2018
And the Oscar for most homophobic host ever goes to… pic.twitter.com/fw9DTjSrhx
— Benjamin Lee (@benfraserlee) December 5, 2018