Kevin Hart Says He's 'Never Bothered' by Cancel Culture
By Mekishana Pierre
Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Kevin Hart is opening up about cancel culture again, and he says that despite being "canceled, what, three or four times," he's "never bothered" by it.
The Fatherhood actor said he "personally doesn't give a sh*t" about cancel culture, before diving into a lengthy conversation about his thoughts on the heavily debated concept in an interview with The Sunday Times. Hart, currently the highest-earning stand-up comic in the world, said that if someone has done something "truly damaging" then he understands why they should deal with the consequences. "But when you just talk about… nonsense? When you're talking, 'Someone said! They need to be taken [down]!' Shut the f**k up! What are you talking about?" he questioned.
"When did we get to a point where life was supposed to be perfect? Where people were supposed to operate perfectly all the time? I don't understand," he added. "I don't expect perfection from my kids. I don't expect it from my wife, friends, employees. Because, last I checked, the only way you grow up is from f**king up. I don't know a kid who hasn’t f**ked up or done some dumb sh*t."
"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's," Hart wrote in a series of tweets. "This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."
"I'm sorry that I hurt people," he continued in a following tweet. "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."
I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
"With the whole Oscars thing, there was a big gap between what I thought the problem was versus what the problem really was," he said. "What I thought it was it wasn't, and my approach to dealing with it because of the assumption that I had is just wrong," he continued, noting that he realized that he "missed an opportunity" after further reflection and conversations with his friends and team members. "I missed an opportunity to say simply that I don't condone any type of violence in any way, shape or form to anyone for being who they are."
"I f**ked up," he added. "Instead, I said, 'I addressed it.' I said, 'I apologized.' I said, 'I talked about this already.' I was just immature."
Now in 2021, the comedian says he's never been bothered by his cancellations. "If you allow it to have an effect on you, it will. Personally? That’s not how I operate,” he told The Sunday Times. He said that with comedy today, comics can't express themselves truly without fear of getting canceled.
"You're thinking that things you say will come back and bite you on the a**," he said. "I can't be the comic today that I was when I got into this. It's about the intent behind what you say -- there’s an assumption it's always bad and, somehow, we forgot comedians are going for the laugh... I'm trying to make you laugh and if I did not make you laugh I failed. That's my consequence."
And when it comes to his tweets, Hart said fans can "go ahead" and pull up his older tweets but they don't reflect the comedian today. "You're looking at a younger version of myself. A comedian trying to be funny and, at that attempt, failing," he said. "Apologies were made. I understand now how it comes off. I look back and cringe. So it's growth. It's about growth."
Hart's comments came soon after another comedian, Katt Williams, went viral for having a similar conversation with a different take. Appearing on an episode of the Joe Budden Podcast that dropped on June 4, Williams shared his opinion on the concept of cancel culture and its consequences.
"Nobody likes the speed limit, but it’s necessary. Nobody likes the shoulder of the road, but it’s there for a reason," Williams stated, pointing out that what some see as blocks are often standards of behavior that benefit everyone. He went on to say that the history of "cancel culture" is rooted in minority groups demanding respect from people in positions of privilege and power, as the former are usually the ones being insulted and degraded from the latter. He questioned if the people complaining even understood how respecting those boundaries helped to advance art for a broader audience.
"I don't know what people got canceled that we wish we had back. Who are they? It's done for the reasons it's done for and it helped who it helped," Williams said. He asked if comedians are aiming to please the most amount of people with their art, why would they even want to use language that could offend a large number of their audience? "If you want to offend somebody, nobody took those words away from you… If these are the confines that keep you from doing the craft God put you to, then it probably ain't for you."
"At the end of the day, there's no cancel culture. Cancellation doesn't have its own culture," Williams stated, pointing out the core fallacy of the very idea.
The interview went viral almost immediately, with folks on Twitter praising Williams' thoughtful breakdown of cancel culture and what it truly is: the simple truth that while anyone is allowed to say whatever they want, other people are equally allowed to push back on what they said. And the person who does the offending isn't allowed to determine the consequences of their harm.