Kevin Hart, Who Wins? Trolls or the Oscars?

So, Ellen wants Kevin Hart to host the Oscars. You may have heard that Hart took himself out of consideration for the role after trolls dug up some old – for old read 2009-ish – homophobic tweets. They used these as evidence that he’s a terrible person who shouldn’t be given such a fabulous opportunity, and the public lapped it up with a suitably loud outcry.

Free speech being what it is – and bearing in mind this cult of public apology we’re currently living through – I can understand that perspective. But in this case, I think we can give some credence to the other side of the story.

No. Homophobes should not get to host the Oscars. But Hart said he’s changed, that he understands what he said was wrong and why, and he’s apologized sincerely. I dunno why exactly, but I more than half believe him. He no longer does the same level of raw, no holds barred humor that made him a star. These days, he’s more of a family friendly jokester with an edge, very firmly on the Eddie Murphy track. That’s not a bad thing.

People can change. It’s not always likely, change not being particularly easy or comfortable, but maturing happens to the best of us. If someone is open to different thinking, to learning about themselves and about others, to relating in even the smallest way to their experiences, it’s not unlikely that she or he could make a shift in behavior.

For instance, I used to be quite the rebel. I made lots of mistakes that I shouldn’t have. I knew better. I’m sorry, too. But these days I’m more of a veteran communicator, with an edge. I’m certainly not going to allow anyone to throw the past up in my face as a means to stigmatize or limit me and my prospects.

I don’t even wanna hear about that shit. It’s long over. I’ve moved on for the better, and everyone else should too. So, I understand perfectly Hart’s refusal to apologize again, his need to wash his hands of the whole thing, Oscars included. After all, what’s a TV show – however high-brow and beloved – compared to one’s principles?

Society has a habit of using one’s past like a club. Let me beat you down with this again and again. I’ll punish you over and over lest you think for one moment that you can forget and move on to bigger and better. Damn that.

It’s even institutional. Look at some of the laws that get expunged and those that don’t and who is predominantly affected by them. Now think about background checks, and the job market, and the relationship between opportunity, earning potential, livelihood, and who is forgiven or given another chance at redemption. It’s ridiculously unfair. But that’s real. Even in a non-legal sense, it’s still real.

That’s why I believe that Hart’s changed. A case of: I apologized. I meant it. You’re not going to keep raking me over the coals at your leisure every time you need a scape goat for homophobic nonsense. You most certainly will not expect me to grovel for forgiveness and approval, and how dare you even think that I would? Hell, put that way, I commend the guy for behaving so rationally. But the difference is, Hart backed down from the Oscars out of fear of Internet trolls.

I suppose they are scary for someone of his celebrity. With his level of influence, they can even be dangerous, at least to his career. I can even imagine a bit about how he feels. A bit. My popularity is nowhere near his level. But this blog has gotten me a lot of hate. I’ve been called racist, narrow minded, stupid, even – gasp – a bad writer. I might be willing to concede some flaws, but bad writing? That’s just unnecessarily harsh.

Those kinds of insults certainly didn’t make me stop writing. These days such things make me laugh. Or, I look on with a kind of vague interest. The way one might examine a new species of bug before turning away in distaste. So many of the comments from trolls who waste time writing about me or my work are poorly written and limited in perspective. You see the irony.

But there’s one thing I believe with all my heart. No one operating with good intention, who’s made the decision to not hurt others, should allow something like an internet troll to dictate their behavior or feelings.

I’ll give you an example. One of my clients started an ASMR YouTube channel recently. She’s been marvelous with it, creating and posting videos every single day. And this on top of graduate school and a full-time job as a senior-level executive. Her comments are mostly wonderful, her subscriber numbers are rising, and some very popular people in that space have subscribed to her channel.

When she got that first bad comment, she was furious. She immediately spent time composing a firey response. I told her next time, don’t bother. I warned her that hate is part of the package. It comes with the territory these days, an unnecessary but unavoidable price one must pay for success.

But she – or anyone – can’t let that stop them. Just prepare, and know that troll crap likely will increase along with your level of influence and exposure.

I don’t even think it’s worthwhile to pay attention at all. A complete stranger, who you’ve never seen, never will see, never spoken to, and don’t want to, types something shitty to you online. Yawn. Keep it moving, and with no delay, I say.

Hart is a huge star though. The volume of hate he has to deal with must be hard to take. One day maybe I’ll understand his perspective better. Still, what’s worth it, you know? It’s like Ellen said, by choosing not to host the Oscars because he’s being attacked, he’s letting the trolls win.

I dunno if Hart will host the Oscars or not, despite Ellen’s endorsement and support. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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