Ellen DeGeneres went from trailblazer to firebrand today, with some fans feeling betrayed that she forgave Kevin Hart for his past homophobic comments and encouraged him to take back the 2019 Oscars hosting gig he gave up when those comments resurfaced in December — especially after his initial refusal to cough up any further apology.
Even more controversially, DeGeneres used the word “haters” to describe Hart’s critics during her interview with the comic on the January 4 episode of her talk show.
“There are so many haters out there,” DeGeneres, a two-time Oscar host herself, told Hart. “Whatever’s going on on the internet, don’t pay attention to them. That’s a small group of people being very, very loud. We are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars … As a gay person, I’m sensitive to all of that. And I talked to you about this. And you have already expressed that it’s not being educated on the subject, not realizing how dangerous those words are, not realizing how many kids are killed for being gay or beaten up every day. You have grown. You have apologized. You are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it.”
But Twitter users weren’t having it. See their outrage and dismay in the tweets below:
Ellen giving homophobes the ability to say “but Ellen said it’s okay” is a massive fucking betrayal.
I don’t care how many sitcoms you lost in the 90s.
— Happy Houlidays (@RyanHoulihan) January 4, 2019
this whole ellen/kevin hart thing is a perfect example of how privilege and constant praise distorts a person’s reality so much that they perceive any criticism, however valid, to be an attack on their entire livelihood
— ellie (@eleanorbate) January 4, 2019
I expected Ellen to actually ask Kevin Hart some sort of challenging question. Anything, really. But instead, it was just one long monologue from Kevin interspersed with Ellen’s approval. That interview made me miss the previous talk show hosts that asked tough questions.
— deray (@deray) January 4, 2019
Ellen’s show is basically the embodiment of respectability politics, so using it as a platform to absolve Kevin Hart on our behalf sounds pretty much on brand. Her sitcom allowed her to do something radical, which she suffered for, & she’s been running away from that ever since.
— Laurence "Laura Dern" Barber (@bortlb) January 4, 2019
Ellen had the opportunity to hold Kevin Hart accountable for what he said about the LGBTQ+ community but instead she gave him the space to make himself out to be the fucking victim when he was the one who made vicious comments on Twitter.
— ? (@MJFinesseLover) January 4, 2019
The only thing @KevinHart4real proved by going on Ellen was that he is a terrible actor with zero genuine remorse who didn’t have the decency to address his ignorance. No, they weren’t “haters” who came after you. It was the LGBTQI+ community because we’re sick to shit of it.
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) January 4, 2019
(1) First, the people who brought up Kevin Hart's past tweets — like me — were not, as Ellen characterized, "haters." The host of the Oscars had made anti-gay jokes, and LGBT people who love the Oscars were legitimately startled to see just how harsh his words were. It wasn't a…
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) January 4, 2019
(3) …when @louisvirtel asked Hart about the vaguely homophobic jokes in GET HARD, like Hart affecting an effeminate voice to evoke fear of prison rape, Hart's response was, "Funny is funny." That may be a legit perspective; it isn't an apology. https://t.co/z92Bslbdhr
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) January 4, 2019
remember when ellen did that NYT interview last month and feared she was out of touch? yeah. https://t.co/FXpOMxXLwe
— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 4, 2019
Ellen: “The gays forgive Kevin Hart and want him back”
The Gays: pic.twitter.com/EftBNR8dti
— Bromoish (@Bromoish) January 4, 2019
For her part, DeGeneres seemingly addressed the backlash on Twitter later that same day, tweeting, “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4real.”
In another tweet, she wrote, “In this conversation, @KevinHart4real was authentic and real, and I’m in his corner. #OscarsNeedHart”
And in a third: “However you feel about this, the only positive way through it is to talk about it. Thank you for being here, @KevinHart4real.”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 4, 2019
The 91st Academy Awards, which as of press time is still missing a host, airs on Sunday, February 24, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.