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Offensive tweets cost Kevin Hart the chance to host the Academy Awards. However, it’s short-sighted to believe that he couldn’t have changed in the decade since he wrote them.
In the social realm, we find ourselves at an interesting pivot. We’re looking to change tomorrow, moving away from the mindsets of old, so to alter future courses, we’re digging up the past. A fine example of this is the rise and fall of Kevin Hart, particularly as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards.
Back in December, Hart accepted the job, but quickly turned it down after a raft of offensive tweets resurfaced. The tweets (now deleted) were dated between 2009-2011. Not excusing what he said, but considering that Barack Obama had yet to enshrine same-sex marriage, it may shine some light on what we consider growth. Now, he might have meant those things, but could his sentiments have changed in the intervening ten years? New research certainly thinks so.
Per Big Think, “…new data suggests that assuming someone thinks the way they did a decade ago could be as unfair as expecting them to look the way they did 10 years prior. Why? Because people are liable to change — not just physically, but mentally as well. In one study, for instance, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reported that its participants were not only capable of multiple simultaneous changes, but were able of change in a myriad of ways, too. Not over the course of years either — in just six weeks.”
Despite this, changing a person’s opinions through argument is a difficult task — which is why objective fact is dying a slow death in the modern age (hello, to you, flat-earthers). Why? Because beliefs remain a largely emotion-based beast. Data from another 2016 study, this one conducted by researchers at Cornell University, suggests that “…people can change their perspective on an issue not just when exposed to new experiences that directly challenge the integrity of their prior beliefs, but also when they are presented an opposing viewpoint using calm language, specific examples, and phrasing that allows for exceptions, such as, it could be the case that gay people are humans too and just want to be loved.”
Back to Kevin’s possibly swelling heart. Much has changed in terms of LGBT visibility and rights since he wrote those tweets. You could argue that the last decade has witnessed the most change, primarily due to social media. If the rest of us can progress so much in this timeframe, you could make that case that Kevin did too. For what it is worth, his apologies and his reported refusal to tell gay jokes, as of 2015, seem to support this.
However, it seems we’re just looking for an opportunity for them to prove this change. An example of the opposite is Roseanne Barr, who killed her own reboot with her racial comments against a former Obama administration employee. Clearly, Hart had changed, Barr had not. The growth of mindsets should be something we aspire to, not just those who are paid to set an example, it falls on us also. After all, we’ve all posted material that may offend someone if they were to come to light. In that light, if Kevin were to return to the hosting gig, it’d be a fine symbol of personal growth.