It’s right that Kevin Hart is no longer presenting the Oscars – but a shame the furore will divert attention away from MeToo

Can we talk about the Oscars please? The comedian Kevin Hart has stepped down as the host following homophobic tweets from 2011 being unearthed.

In a tweet, he said: “I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people… I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

For those lucky enough to have escaped the shackles of Twitter and all its hullabaloo, here’s one of the offending tweets:

“Yo. If my son comes home & try’s (sic) to play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’”

(I know some of you are thinking “Homophobia? What about his spelling!” Relax. His mother was a professor at Philadelphia University and the 30-something-year-old is probably rebelling. Never too late, I say.)

There are many tweets of this kind on his timeline before 2011. Time passed and, in his own words, he grew into a “great mature place”. That sounds like a translation from North Korean, but it’s not.

He means, I think, that he realised there was a cultural shift against homophobia and he knew he couldn’t get away with it anymore if he wanted to make millions and millions of dollars in our more woke times.

Let’s flip this for a moment. Homophobia damages and can end lives just like racism can. If a white comedian had said “Hey, if my daughter came home with a black boyfriend, I’m going 2 break something over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s not natural’”

I doubt Kevin Hart – who is African-American – would pat him on the shoulder and say “that was the OLD you buddy, we know you’re in a great mature place now and would let your daughter bonk whoever she chooses.”

Misogyny of course, isn’t as serious as racism or homophobia as no woman has ever been seriously hurt or died as a result of it (a rare moment of sarcasm from me. Please enjoy).

Nonetheless the now mature-cheddar Kevin has also been berated for tweeting things such as “U ever see a woman so horrible built that it makes you feel gay looking at her body”.

I don’t know why people are so outraged and flabbergasted by his Twitter history. He was never a Hannah Gadsby was he? If he didn’t say things like this, how would I ever know that he wasn’t my cup of tea.

Here’s an admission, I loved Eddie Murphy’s 1983 standup film Delirious when I was a kid. But it really hasn’t stood the test of time.

There are things that I found funny aged 11 that I don’t find funny now. Much of Delirious was misogynistic and homophobia dressed in a setup-punch format.

Had my parents’ English been as good in the early Eighties as it is now, I’d never have been allowed to watch it.

As it was, they just thought it was marvellous that we were laughing so much and were occupied while they could get on with writing poems about their lost homelands and discussing the superiority of Iranian pomegranates.

I was mesmerised by Murphy’s confidence, charm and energy.  I didn’t understand the implications of what he said.

Kids now are much more politically aware. My boy will roll his eyes, bored at “gay” jokes and instead cruise Netflix looking for a James Acaster special instead. 

Pretty soon after Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, I listened to tapes (tapes!) of Richard Pryor, George Carlin and got a Billy Connolly video for my birthday so my comedy horizons were widened.

As hate goes, homophobia lagged behind racism in terms of attitudes changing. Casual homophobia is still more socially acceptable than casual racism.

It’s only very recently that I have been able to say publicly that I’m not heterosexual yet for years I have been confident about telling people I’m not white.

Going back to Kevin Hart and the Oscars. The Academy has taken a battering over the past couple of years. Harvey Weinstein’s exposure as The Monster Within and the subsequent Me Too movement has made Hollywood think.

The furore is convenient for the Academy.

The effect of this is that the MeToo movement is reduced to barely a sideshow as all the focus is on one man’s vile take on LGBTQ people. He was, arguably, thrown to the dogs to deflect from a wider issue.

The whole thing seems to be a way of shifting focus from the vile abusive pit we all now know Hollywood is.

I’m glad his homophobia came to light. He took the hit. For the big guys. The ones who have most to lose from MeToo.

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