Comedian Kevin Hart is being ‘canceled’ again based on his remarks to rapper-singer Lil Nas X on the latest episode of HBO’s “The Shop.”
The show, produced by LeBron James’ digital brand, Uninterrupted, features athletes and other celebrities having frank discussions in a barber shop-like setting. In a promotional clip for Tuesday’s episode, Lil Nas X is asked by another guest why he decided to come out as gay in June just as his mega-hit country-trap trip “Old Town Road” was launching him to fame.
Paul Rivera, an entertainment marketing exec and co-creator of the series, wonders supportively: “Why did you feel it was necessary to come out and say that?”
“He said he was gay! So what?” Hart interrupted.
“It’s not that it’s, like, being forced,” Lil Nas X said. “It’s just that knowing, like growing up, I’m growing up to hate this sh–.”
“Hate what?” Hart asked.
“Homosexuality, gay people. Come on now, if you’re really from the hood, you know,” Lil Nas X said. “For me, the ‘cool dude with the song’ — on top of everything — to say this any other time, I’m doing this for attention in my eyes. But if you’re doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s for real, and it’s showing it doesn’t really matter, I guess.”
Twitter ‘cancels’ Kevin Hart, praises Lil Nas X
Although the conversation seemed friendly, Twitter reacted with outrage.
Kevin Hart acting like he doesn’t know why Lil Nas X would be scared to come out is like someone who stole the thing you lost helping you look for it. https://t.co/ZmfRNMktel
— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) September 4, 2019
Many users slammed Hart for allegedly downplaying the issue of “homophobia.”
"He said he was gay. So what!" Kevin Hart knows exactly what the "so what" is here and why a young black boy would closet his sexuality until he believed it was safe. Why not simply listen, give @LilNasX the space and deference to tell his own story… https://t.co/8nY9cHPftP
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) September 4, 2019
Others accused the comedian of being anti-gay himself and of “gaslighting” Lil Nas X, who was hailed for his poise under such allegedly bigoted questioning.
Lil Nas X is a gift. He continues to be courageous and wise. But putting him in a situation to be gaslit by known homophobes about his choice to come out is terrible. pic.twitter.com/AAsGSlzmb0
— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) September 4, 2019
Activist Zellie Imami reminded his followers that “gaslighting is violence.
The emotional and intellectual labor that lil nas x had to expend by explaining, not only the effects, but the existence of homophobia to men older than him is more than disheartening.
Remember, gaslighting is violence. pic.twitter.com/aO0jhYZ3LF
— zellie (@zellieimani) September 4, 2019
Out magazine covered the one-minute exchange under the headline “Watch Kevin Hart Gaslight Lil Nas X Over Homophobia.”
It was widely noted that Hart stepped down from hosting this year’s Oscars ceremony amid outcry over past jokes at the expense of gay people.
In the full episode of “The Shop,” the discussion moved on to the persistence of anti-gay prejudice in pro sports. But Hart, joking that he knew the shows editor would cut to him, raised his hand to deliver a supportive message to Lil Nas X.
“What I want to say is Lil Nas X, in no way should you ever have to defend ‘but guys, this is what I am,’” Hart said. “That’s not it. It’s ‘guy’s, this is what I’m going to do. My reason for doing this is because I know I do this well.’ When you have a voice, and you simply say this, there is no back and forth about what this is. Nothing else needs to be said.”