Kevin Hart and the art of the celebrity apology

Updated 5:54 PM EST, Fri December 7, 2018
(CNN) —  

Hollywood is filled with comeback stories of stars who have made mistakes and found redemption.

The public loves them.

But if there is an art to the apology process, comedian and actor Kevin Hart ran afoul of it this week and toppled himself as host of the next Academy Awards.

The comedian made some comments on Twitter between 2009 and 2011 that included derogatory language about homosexuals.

Social media is a landmine for celebs

When those tweets resurfaced on Thursday, there was an immediate opportunity for the “Night School” star to own it, apologize and move on.

But that’s not how he handled it.

Hart initially took the position that the past is the past.

He posted a video on Instagram in response to the controversy in which he made it clear that he believed he is well beyond that time in his life.

“Guys, I’m almost 40 years old,” he said in the video.”If you don’t believe 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. I’m the wrong guy, man.”

Definitely not an apology. By shifting the onus to others for trying to hold him accountable for his words, Hart did not do much to improve the situation.

Comedians, in particular, are in a tenuous position right now.

So much of what used to be deemed funny no longer is. True growth for an artist means they recognize that.

Dave Chappelle found that out last year when he returned to the spotlight with two Netflix comedy specials.

Someone seemingly forgot to tell Chappelle that in the almost 13 years he had been off the scene, jokes about trans men and women no longer get a pass. There was immediate backlash against Chappelle’s quips.

Hart hasn’t left the stand-up circuit and seemingly knows better.

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Hart addressed jokes he had made in the past about trying to prevent his son from being gay.