Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres both thought their chat about his Oscars controversy, which aired Friday morning, would go over well. It did not. On yesterday’s Ellen, the comedian addressed, for the entire episode, the furor that erupted over homophobic jokes he used to do in his sets and on social media years ago, which led to him stepping down as this year’s Oscars host. Alas, he mostly talked about how he’s been attacked by critics, painting himself as the victim. He also never actually apologized.
The reaction has been largely negative, not only to Hart but also to DeGeneres, who gave him her blessing to consider returning to the Oscars gig. One of Hart’s more prominent but also kindest critics has been Don Lemon. The anchor discussed the controversy Friday night on CNN Tonight, and his words were positive yet stern.
“Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out, to understand why they might have been offended and I don’t see any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community, not that I know of,” Lemon said. “It is your chance right now to do the right thing, to change minds and possibly save lives.”
Lemon also discussed Hart’s plea to walk away from the controversy and leave it in the past. “Walking away right now, that is your choice, but many of us really need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death,” Lemon said. “And someone like a Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader, the ultimate change agent. He can help change homophobia in the black community.”
One of Hart’s more infamous homophobic jokes involved a bit where he joked about how he didn’t want his son to be gay.
“That was a joke to Kevin, but the truth is that is a reality for many little boys in the United States,” Lemon said. “Somewhere a black dad is beating his black son the same way it happened to my friend, Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels, through his TV show Empire, portrayed how as a little boy his dad threw him in a trash can for wearing heels. Took him out of the house and threw him in the trash can. That’s the reality for a lot of little boys.”
Lemon also took umbrage with DeGeneres thinking she could represent all LGBTQ people.
“Honestly, Ellen doesn’t speak for the whole community,” Lemon remarked. “We need to speak up for the young black people, especially young black men — kids — in the LGBT community.