January 16, 2019

No Two Public Shamings Are Exactly Alike

“From one social media onslaught to another: The news that Kevin Hart had withdrawn from hosting the 2019 Oscars prompted a whole new wave of social media backlash — from people complaining about the first wave of backlash that caused him to step down.

Hart’s announcement last week that he would host the 91st Academy Awards in February prompted a wave of outrage as the queer community surfaced a history of comedy routines and tweets in which Hart had repeatedly joked about trying to prevent his son from becoming gay.

Initially defiant, Hart ultimately issued an abrupt about-face, tweeting an apology to the queer community at large and noting that he was stepping down from the gig so that he wouldn’t “be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.”

In the aftermath of Hart’s decision, many were quick to criticize what they perceived as an overly politically correct culture that was punishing Hart for sins of the past. Comedians like Nick Cannon and Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che came to Hart’s defense, calling out the Academy, the comedic establishment, and the public for allowing similar expressions of homophobia and other problematic stances by white entertainers — including Mel Gibson — to pass without similar waves of backlash.”

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