Kevin Hart Defends Ellen Amid Inappropriate Workplace Allegations

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday August 4, 2020

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart  (Source:Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Following the leads of Ellen's wife, actress Portia de Rossi, and pop superstar Katy Perry, comedian and actor Kevin Hart has joined the small rank of celebrities defending DeGeneres over a wide array of unprofessional and inappropriate professional conduct on the set of her talk show:

In January 2019, DeGeneres interviews Hart on an episode after he eventually stepped down from an offer to host that year's Academy Awards because a history of homophobic jokes in his standup routine. One particular instance was addressed in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone:

In 2010's "Seriously Funny," he tells the audience, "One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That's a fear. Keep in mind, I'm not homophobic.?.?.?.?Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will." This leads into vignettes in which Hart reacts to imagined signs of Hendrix's blossoming homosexuality with interjections of "Stop, that's gay!" Discussing this bit today, Hart says, "It's about my fear. I'm thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it? Not that I'm not gonna love my son or think about him any differently. The funny thing within that joke is it's me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it's about me. That's the difference between bringing a joke across that's well thought-out and saying something just to ruffle feathers." Even so, he adds, "I wouldn't tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren't as sensitive as they are now. I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren't necessarily big deals, because we can. These things become public spectacles. So why set yourself up for failure?"

Instead of taking the opportunity to apologize, Hart fired off a defensive Instagram post:

After stepping down, Hart issued an apology via twitter and DeGeneres invited the comedian onto her show, EDGE reported earlier. But the discourse around Hart's twitter apology seemed to take precedence over a history of non-apologies where the comedian dismissed homophobic and transphobic jokes as "too dangerous" and "best left alone" because when he told those jokes "the times weren't as sensitive as they are now." Hart's approach contrasts with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, who has regularly apologized for the pain his homophobic jokes have caused the LGBTQ community.

Hart's defense of DeGeneres appears focused entirely on his personal relationship with the talk show mogul and fails to acknowledge the serious allegations of sexual harassment, workplace hostility and power imbalances that have led to public airings of grievances by former employees of the Ellen show, and ultimately an investigation of the show. Last week, DeGeneres issued a memo to her staff, which can be read in full at Variety.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

Comments on Facebook