Much of the LGBTQ community is still upset with Kevin Hart over his refusal to apologize for years-old homophobic comments, but Ellen DeGeneres has come to his defense — and now he’s reconsidering his decision to step down from hosting the Oscars.
DeGeneres, who has hosted the Oscars twice, told Hart on Friday’s episode of “Ellen” that she wants him to host the awards show and noted that there is “a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”
DeGeneres dismissed critics of Hart, calling them “a small group” of “very, very loud” people. She told Hart not to “let them destroy you,” although she did not say who she was referring to when said she “them.”
DeGeneres said that representatives from the Academy told her they still want Hart to serve as host. The Academy did not respond to requests for comment regarding its stance on Hart or whether he will be reconsidered for the hosting role. A different host has not been announced.
Hart, a comedian and actor, stepped down from the Oscars in December after he initially danced around an opportunity to apologize for using gay slurs about other people in tweets from 2009 to 2011 and vowing to use violence against his son if he were to play with dolls. He subsequently drew wide-ranging criticism from the LGBTQ community and others, which contributed to his decision to step down.
Most recently, actor, stage performer, and singer Billy Porter said he was “done” with Hart and slammed him for displaying what he describe as “toxic masculinity.”
But during the video posted on Friday, Hart was receptive to DeGeneres’ pleas to reconsider his decision.
“You have put a lot of things on my mind, and I know where our relationship stands,” Hart said. “So, leaving here, I’m promising you I’m evaluating this conversation.”
A number of LGBTQ activists and journalists immediately disagreed with DeGeneres’ effort to rehabilitate Hart’s image as a candidate for the job.
Adam B. Vary, a BuzzFeed senior reporter who was among those who originally pointed out Hart’s old tweets, said it was “depressing” that Ellen’s enthusiasm over Hart led her to say he was “the victim of ‘haters’ and ‘trolls’ out to ‘destroy’ him.”
Out.com’s director of culture and entertainment, Tre’vell Anderson, said in an opinion piece on Friday morning that DeGeneres does not represent the entire LGBTQ community.
“As a Black queer someone who, when my body began to manifest aspects of my identity even I was unaware of — a sway in my walk, a bend in my wrist — was punched in the chest by Black men in my family and told to ‘man up,’ Ellen can’t and doesn’t speak for me.”
Gay activist DeRay McKesson, who has also been deeply involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, said DeGeneres should have challenged Hart, but “instead it was just one long monologue from Kevin interspersed with Ellen’s approval.”
GLAAD, which monitors media coverage of LGBTQ people, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the latest developments surrounding Hart and the Academy.
Hart is slated to appear on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert on January 9, at which point his future could be more clear.