The Whirlwind Controversy That Lost Kevin Hart the Oscars Hosting Gig in 24 Hours

kevin hart
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

February's 2019 Oscar ceremony has mysteriously been absent one very important thing all year: a host. This was especially strange considering last year's host, returning late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, was announced nearly an entire year before the ceremony aired. Many speculative takes were written about this year's: Who would be a worthy host? Is the gig even that great? Does anyone actually want to host the Oscars? What's going on?

Then, on Wednesday, the Academy announced that Kevin Hart would take up the mantle, and we all relaxed a little. Hart is funny, a good entertainer, and he even called Oscars host one of his dream jobs in his own announcement. But, because the Internet is forever and it's plenty easy to dig up old, bad tweets, more than a few posts from Hart's account were recirculated online shortly after his hosting reveal. Mostly extremely homophobic remarks, the tweets from 2009 and 2010 were swiftly deleted, but the damage had been done.

Hart then tried to fix the situation by posting a bizarre non-apology video of himself shirtless in bed, accusing those who spread the old tweets of just wanting to spread negativity. "If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me," he wrote.

Hours later, Hart posted another video on his account, explaining that the Academy had asked him to either issue a public apology for the old remarks or step down as host. Hart decided to "pass" on the apology, saying that he had apparently addressed his past tweets and actions "several times" already, and that he had moved on.

A little while later, he announced on Twitter that he'd be stepping down as host, this time with an actual apology for his past comments. "I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists," he wrote.

Hart is the latest in a growing number of high-profile figures who have had their online history come back to bite them, including James Gunn, who was fired by Disney from directing the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie because of similarly bad taste old tweets from 2009, harkening back to when the Internet was lawless and even celebrities could say whatever, no matter how cruel or insensitive. The lesson here -- besides another cautionary tale of cleaning up your garbage -- is that maybe no one should host the Oscars! Just get Olivia, the incredibly cute Westie from Widows and Game Night, to wear a sequins bow and carry the envelopes to the presenters. Human fallacy problem (nearly) solved!

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky