Kevin Hart’s recent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” continues to generate controversy after the comedian — who stepped down from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards when homophobic jokes he tweeted years earlier resurfaced — discussed his decision to walk away.
Many who watched the interview found DeGeneres’ attempts to portray Hart as a victim to be tone deaf, and we can count CNN anchor Don Lemon among them.
Lemon, who is openly gay, addressed Hart’s appearance on Friday’s edition of “CNN Tonight”, taking Hart to task for his apparent refusal to apologize for the jokes, including a tweet in which he wrote that if he ever discovered his son playing with his daughter’s dollhouse, “I’m going to break it over his head & say n my voice, ‘Stop that’s gay.'”
In addition, in a 2010 interview, Hart declared, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay… if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
On Monday night, Lemon revealed that Hart had gotten in touch with him over the weekend, and the two discussed the controversy.
The conversation was not recorded, and Lemon promised not to directly quote what was said between them, he did offer his take what they discussed.
Lemon referred first to what Hart had said earlier that day on his own SiriusXM show: “I Don’t like the forcing. Don Lemon goes on CNN you can fix this become an ally. That’s not my life dream.”
Adding his own perspective, Lemon said, “Now, you can take that however want. You can be upset by it. However you want to feel. But that is his right. Whether I like it or not, whether you like it or not, that is his right.”
Lemon didn’t retract his criticisms of Hart, or the way he has presented himself as a victim in the situation, but he also had words for those in the LGBTQ community.
“If we don’t want to be bullied, we can’t be bullies,” Lemon said. “You don’t want to turn into what you’re fighting against. So hold to account, call them out, but you don’t want to bully people. I might get a lot of blowback for that, but I’m just being honest.”
On his show last week, Lemon criticized Hart, explaining that his previous comments were not only hurtful, they can be dangerous for black LGBTQ young people.
“It is true that some of his old jokes had been addressed,” said Lemon. “In 2015 he told Rolling Stone that he wouldn’t tell homophobic jokes anymore. He said that he wouldn’t tell them anymore because ‘the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.’ Sensitivity, though, is not an apology.”
Lemon continued: “Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out. Walking away right now, that is your choice. But many of us need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death. And someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader, the ultimate change agent.”
Noting that his dollhouse tweet may have been “a joke to Kevin,” Lemon pointed out that “the truth is that is a reality for many little boys in the United States. Somewhere, a black dad is beating his black son… Those views of LGBT people in the black community have consequences… We have to stop low-key co-signing homophobia. It’s not cool. We won’t tolerate jokes that do otherwise,” he added.
“For many in the gay community, especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies on ‘Ellen’ have fallen flat,” Lemon continued, criticizing Hart for “somehow turn[ing] himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia.”
He concluded by urging Hart to use his celebrity to embrace the LGBTQ community in order to remove the stigma within the African-American community.
“Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender,” said Lemon. “Being an ally does.”
DeGeneres’ brother Vance DeGeneres took little time responding to Lemon and DeGeneres’ other detractors. Vance accused them of unfairly picking on DeGeneres. He suggested haters are better off spending energy elsewhere.”
“Regarding my sister – no good deed goes unpunished,” he tweeted on Saturday. “All she’s ever done is try to help make the world a better, kinder, more compassionate place.”
“She’s paid the price for her efforts,” Vance continued. “You may want to pick on someone who actually deserves your criticism.”