Comedian Kevin Hart tweeted on Tuesday that being selected to host the 2019 Oscars was the “opportunity of a lifetime.” On Friday, Hart said that he was stepping down over past homophobic tweets.
Hart said in an Instagram post that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gave him an ultimatum: apologize or “we’re going to have to move on and find another host.”
A 2011 tweet that Hart deleted this week, according to BuzzFeed News, read: “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’.”
“What Hart tweeted was crazy and violent,” said DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti. “Makes me wonder if he’s afraid of what he sees in the mirror.”
Hart is acknowledging that what he did was hurtful and unacceptable.
But was the Academy’s demand for an apology solely in support of the LGBT community? Or did worries about viewership factor into their decision?
Academy Awards Viewership Has Been Decreasing
According to reports, the Academy had a hard time finding a host for the 2019 Oscars, a show that has decreased in viewership since 2014.
“The need to win over so many constituents has put off some of the best candidates, who see little upside in taking on a job that pays only low six figures but requires weeks of work; that usually results in a media flaying; and that does little to boost the host’s profile,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
So the Academy’s invitation to Hart to host the show wasn’t a sincere. They needed someone to fill the spot.
It seems their ultimatum to Hart was more about losing viewership. For the past 10 years, there certainly hasn’t been much advocacy for movie roles reflective of the LGBT community.
A report this year from Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC, reveals that among the 48,757 characters in 1,100 top studio films from 2007 to 2017, less than 1 percent of all characters were from the LGBT community.
Diversity and Me Too Movement
In 2017, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy, decided to leave its board and she did not seek re-election. She was the third woman to hold the position since the Academy was founded in 1927. John Bailey, a white man, replaced Boone Isaacs as president.
Following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, a “diversity initiative” was put in place. This year, the Academy boasted that 38 percent of the Oscars’ governing body’s new class is made up of people of color. That only increased representation from 13 percent in 2017 to 16 percent. That certainly doesn’t reflect the changing demographics of the country, or the demographics of moviegoers.
According to UCLA’s ” Hollywood Diversity Report,” people of color accounted for the majority of ticket sales for five of the top 10 films in 2016 (ranked by global box office).
At this year’s Oscars, there was an attempt to recognize the Me Too movement. But the film industry has made Hollywood a haven for powerful men, like Harvey Weinstein, who practice sexual misconduct toward women.
When will the Academy apologize to consumers for being hypocritical?