Kevin Hart’s got a movie that might have, at one time, been looked at as a “game changer” for him, to promote.
“The Upside” was filmed a few years ago and is just now coming out at what has felt like the Peak Kevin Hart Moment. He’s King of Hollywood, the biggest box office comic of the day. Even his middling movies make a mint.
He was even picked to be the host of the Oscars. But we all know what happened after that.
Old tweets and jokes came back to haunt him, he said he’d already apologized for that, when he hadn’t.
Gave up the hosting gig, finally got around to apologizing.
Got a “Get out of Hollywood Jail Free” card from Ellen DeGeneres, which didn’t pan out. And then on “Good Morning America” he found his new catch-phrase. Enough apologizing, enough of this public pillorying by the Interweb’s Social Justice Warriors.
He says “I’m over it.”
All of which was preamble to his appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
Where he had to deal with this controversy yet again, and get lectured by Colbert on how “The audience decides when they’re over it, not you.”
Being in the hot seat in front of a TV camera is not a comfy spot, not where you do your best thinking on the fly. Even if you’re prepared to be asked about this.
Hart, whose stand-up documentaries are what made him blow up a few years ago, has come off in the most recent of those films as a guy rich, successful and surrounded by people who don’t challenge him — sycophants. The last stand-up film he put into theaters showed him reveling in excess, success and weak jokes that nobody around him had the guts to say, “Let’s hire some writers to build your set up a little. Because this isn’t cutting it.”
So he A) might have thought he’d apologized, or thought saying “I’ve already apologized” was correct, because nobody around him said otherwise and he just forgot or blocked it out of his memory. He didn’t realize that B), when you say “I’m over it” to your entourage, they laugh and that’s that. “Good Morning America” isn’t your entourage. Nor is Colbert. Colbert is right. Hart doesn’t get to decide. The audience does.
But being on the hot seat he missed his surest “out” with Colbert and with this whole stink. Every time he says “I’m over it,” the audience applauds. He should have said, “Right, Stephen. And what did the AUDIENCE here just do when I said ‘I’m over it?’ They APPLAUDED.”
He’s not the only comic to have played the gay gag card, not even the only one to have made that “If my son told me he was gay” threat joke.
In the current climate of crime and recriminations, eight year old tweets aren’t even a misdemeanor.
But I think I get what DeGeneres was trying to do. You can’t selectively enforce shaming of acts within the broad umbrella of intolerance. You can’t deliver the death penalty to celebrities who don’t kowtow quickly enough. And those often nameless online “police” — can’t be allowed to trample the celebrity-scape unpoliced themselves.
Lady Gaga and her “Monsters,” at the forefront of the Social Justice Warrior crusading (and OSCAR campaigning) seem awfully tolerant of her collaborating with R. Kelly when every predatory thing about him has been on the public record and well known since 2003. And she STILL did a duet with him. Why should she be even CONSIDERED for an Oscar?
For that matter, somebody piece together all the times Bradley Cooper cracked “That’s so gay/Don’t be gay” in “The Hangover” movies. Comedies are where “The best joke on the set wins.” Did he improvise the line, or just think it was scripted funny and not challenge it?
Bradley Cooper wants an Oscar as badly as his “A Star is Born” co-star. Why not net-troll that chance away from him?
The answer, at least to Cooper’s case, is that this is no James Franco/Kevin Spacey level offense. Nor is Hart’s.
So yeah, he’s “over it.” We’ll see how the box office for “The Upside” turns out, but my bet is the audience (And he knows his audience, especially.) is “over it” too. It’s not terrible, and one suspects that a lot of reviews of it panned Hart over the controversy and not necessarily the overlong and slightly heavy-handed crowd pleaser that Neil Burger directed.
Maybe the rest of us should take a hint, including those short attention span Internet assault leaders. You ruined Hart’s Oscar hosting high. Considering the crime, that’s enough.