Recently, actor-comedian Kevin Hart was selected as the host for the 2019 Academy Awards. Since the #OscarsSoWhite movement, the Academy has been making a grand effort to increasingly diversify the historically chalk white affair. But progress is relative because, including Hart’s announcement, there have only been five Black Oscar hosts in the show’s 91-year history.
But with increased diversity comes the need to be sensitive to the concerns of those various groups that comprise the whole of American society. Almost immediately after Hart announced that he was ‘blown away’ by the honor, an old video resurfaced in which he tells a joke about not wanting a gay son. The language used isn’t particularly inflammatory, but actually relatively tame compared to many “gay jokes” that I’ve heard over the years, especially from Black comedians.
In the current era of internet sleuthing and get-back politics, it seems that individuals are only lambasted or taken to task when they’re about to hit their pinnacle in their respective fields. This paradigm happens constantly to celebrated personalities from sports, entertainment, and business
Over the past year, there were several tweets deemed racist or homophobic attributed to both white college and pro players. Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb, and Josh Hader have all felt their old musings exploding in their faces.
After nearly throwing a no-hitter for the Braves against the Dodgers back in July, Newcomb’s following press conference was dominated by questions about racist tweets from 2011 and 2012 when he was 18 years old. Turner, a 25-year-old shortstop for the Washington Nationals, had to apologize for similar tweets that he sent as a teen.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader had to apologize for past tweets of similar composition and former Wyoming quarterback turned Buffalo Bills top pick Josh Allen and NCAA tournament most outstanding player Donte DiVincenzo was called for bad tweets as well.
Do I have a problem with what’s being said in a great deal of these tweets? Yes. However, I have an equally big deal with the timing of these “revelations”. Kevin Hart gets the gig of a lifetime, someone reignites the “gay son” controversy, one that he has addressed in the media at least twice in the past.
Donte DiVincenzo balls out of his mind in the Final Four and solidifies himself a draft spot, someone finds tweets of him saying the n-word while reciting rap lyrics while in high school, Josh Allen was vying to be a number one overall pick when his old tweets were dug up.
The content of these tweets are problematic, but what many seem to be missing is how nefarious and calculated these things are. Individuals digging up dirt in the past aren’t trying to right some monumental societal wrong, they’re just in it what the flames that ensue like a sick, social media arsonist.
There’s no way in the world that we can presume a 25-year-old man who has traveled across the United States will have the same worldview as an 18-year-old boy who rarely leaves his home state. No f’n way. Yet, this dynamic has already been set and the “gotcha” cult of social media will continue waiting for just the right moment to ruin someone’s life and/or career.
Suspicious as all hell, but typical in the age which we live. No one’s trying to make these moments teachable or even reconcilable. And because of that, everyone goes back to business as usual after the smoke clears. True, the individual being admonished is seen in a different light after the fact, but none of the aforementioned individuals will lose their jobs or opportunities based on five-year-old tweets. So what’s it really about?
As Momma used to say, for every finger you point at someone else, there are three on the same hand pointing back at you. Those taken to task for questionable comments had not already addressed them, should address them. However, dragging people out into the blaring light of public scrutiny when they’re at the cusp of something great is some BS. Kevin Hart, for his part, he has addressed the comments in 2015 in a Rolling Stone interview and in GQ.
Looking at many of the responses on social media, I can see how most of the heat coming his way are from gay white men, some of whom I am CERTAIN are racists wrapped up in a rainbow flag, but we’re so busy looking for the next boogeyman that the public is allowing individuals with questionable motives to use them as weapons. Yet, they never come under scrutiny. Unlike an actual court, accusers can’t be cross-examined. Straight up.