The 39-year-old stand-up comic took to Instagram on Thursday to share an emotional black-and-white video of himself, addressing recently resurfaced tweets from 2011 in which he made offensive and anti-gay comments and jokes, and claiming that he isn’t the same person he was at the time.
“I swear man, our world is becoming beyond crazy,” a seemingly emotional Hart intoned in the lengthy video. “I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I’ve worked hard to get to the mental space that I’m at now.”
Hours after Hart confirmed that he’d been tapped to host the 91st Academy Awards on Tuesday evening, a number of offensive remarks tweeted by Hart — many of which include anti-gay slurs and insults — began circulating online, and some of those offended by his tweets started the movement calling for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind their hosting offer.
In his video, Hart explained, “My team calls me, they go, ‘Oh my god, Kevin, the world is upset about a tweet you did years ago.’ Oh my god. Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you.”
“If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past, then do you,” Hart added. “I’m the wrong guy, man. I’m in a great place. A great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity. If you’re not doing that, you’re not on my page.”
Hart shared a similar sentiment in the caption to his video.
“Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry,” he wrote. “I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people….there is nothing that you can do to change that…NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all.”
The caption continued, “With that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please…. What’s understood should never have to be said.”
“I LOVE EVERYBODY…..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY,” Hart stressed. “If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you….Have a beautiful day.”
The controversial tweets in question have painted Hart’s past opinions of the LGBT community in a starkly negative light, despite his assertions that he has matured.
One of the 2011 tweets that garnered plenty of outrage reads, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”
In another of the tweets in question, Hart jokes that someone’s Twitter profile pic looks “like a gay billboard for AIDS.”
Guardian reporter Benjamin Lee was one of the first journalists to call out Hart’s past remarks, sharing a collection of screenshots of the offending tweets, writing, “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets”
Reporter Adam B. Vary continued to mine Hart’s Twitter for questionable posts, and claimed that it wasn’t a difficult endeavor.
“After seeing this @benfraserlee tweet, I did a search for every time Kevin Hart tweeted “fag,” “homo,” or “gay.” It was…a lot,” Vary tweeted, along with numerous screen shots of additional tweets. “And he seems to have basically stopped tweeting those words after 2011 — i.e. the year his first stand-up movie became a hit.”
As pressure and outrage mounted on Wednesday, Hart chose not to address the controversy directly, but did make vague comments that seemed to allude to it, and seemed to indicate that the backlash was being fueled by people out of spite and meanness.
“I was asked the most amazing question from my kids today on the phone….they said “Dad why don’t you get mad when people talk about you on the internet” …my answer was “I never see that stuff because I’m to busy being happy & loving you 2” Hart wrote in a series of tweets Wednesday evening. “I then explained to them that it’s hard to know what angry things people are saying when you stay away from the places that angry people love. I said angry people love the internet… so use it only when necessary and spend the rest of ur time enjoying life. I swear I love being a dad.”
The Academy has yet to respond to the backlash with any official statement.
For more on Hart’s announcement on Tuesday that he would be hosting the Oscars, watch the video below.