Kevin Hart has "passed" the opportunity to host the Oscars after refusing the Academy's demand to apologise for his homophobic tweets from a decade ago.
The actor-comedian issued a video Thursday night saying that the Academy called him to apologise but he "passed."
"The reason I passed is because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. Regardless, to the Academy, I'm thankful for the opportunity, if it goes away, no harm, no foul," he said.
Hart's response to criticism over earlier homophobic tweets on Thursday further inflamed a backlash to the comedian two days after he was named host of the upcoming Academy Awards.
On Thursday, Hart wrote on Instagram that critics should “stop being negative” after years-old tweets surfaced in which he used gay slurs. In an accompanying video, a shirtless Hart lounging in bed warily said he wasn’t going to “let the craziness frustrate me.”
“I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” said Hart, who added, in all-caps: “I love everybody.”
Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 2009-2011. But they had already been screen-captured and been shared virally online. In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “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.”
Hart’s attitudes about homosexuality were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 special “Seriously Funny,” he said “one of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”
“Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will,” Hart said.
GLAAD, the advocacy group for LGBTQ rights, said Thursday that it has reached out to Oscars broadcaster ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and Hart’s management to “discuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record.”
Comedian and actor Billy Eichner was among those on social media who were disappointed with Hart’s response.
“This is not good. A simple, authentic apology showing any bit of understanding or remorse would have been so simple,” Eichner said. “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.”
The film academy on Tuesday announced Hart as host to its February ceremony. Representatives for the academy and for ABC didn’t respond to messages Thursday.
It’s not the first time an Oscars host has been forced to answer for anti-gay remarks. Ahead of the 2012 Academy Awards, producer Brett Ratner, who had been paired with host Eddie Murphy, resigned days after using a gay slur at a film screening. Murphy soon after exited, as well.