"You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means," Kevin Hart wrote on Saturday. "Please grasp this and use it in 2019."

By Dave Quinn
January 05, 2019 04:29 PM
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As Kevin Hart’s Oscars controversy continues, the comedian is speaking out about the importance of self-improvement.

On Saturday, Hart shared a written message to Instagram about the importance of learning in order to be better — asking in its caption, “When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge?”

“You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means,” he added. “Please grasp this and use it in 2019.”

Hart’s caption came attached to a long message, in which the 39-year-old comedian highlighted the ways in which athletes, professionals and educators all need practice.

“Basketball plays aren’t great until they LEARN how to play the game correctly,” the message reads. “Teachers are great teachers when they LEARN how to get thru to kids correctly. Architects become great at their job when they LEARN how to build correctly. CEO’s are not great until they LEARN how to run a business correctly. A fireman is not a great fireman until he LEARNS how to fight fires correctly. A doctor is not great at their job in the beginning… he/she have to LEARN how to be great. A news anchor or journalist does not start at the top…. they have to LEARN and develop to be great at their job.”

Hart was back in the headlines on Friday, as his candid chat with Ellen DeGeneres aired on her syndicated talk show.

In that interview, Hart discussed for the first time the social media outrage over his past homophobic remarks that resurfaced after he was named host of the 91st Academy Awards, which caused him to step down from the role a mere two days after being given the job in December.

It was an attack,” Hart told DeGeneres. “This wasn’t an accident, this wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t a coincidence that the day after I received the job, that tweets just somehow manifested from 2008. I don’t know who follows me or who doesn’t, but I’m on social media every single day. I have over 40,000 tweets. To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008? That’s an attack. That’s a malicious attack on my character.”

“That’s an attack to end me. That’s not an attack to end the Oscars, that’s an attack to end me,” he continued. “This was to destroy me. This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships, my production company and the people who work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that had been invested in me. It’s bigger than just the Oscars. It’s about the individuals who are out there now that are finding success in damage. They’re finding success in damaging your ‘celebrity.’ ”

Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

He also insisted that he had grown from his mistakes. “I know who I am,” he said on Ellen. “I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I know I’ve addressed it, I know I’ve apologized. I know that within my apologies, I’ve taken 10 years to put my apology to work. I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian that once was. I’ve moved on. I’m cultured. I’m manufactured. I’m a guy that understands now. I look at life through a different lens and because of it, I live life in a different way.”

“I had to address it and apologize and say I understand what those words do and how they hurt,” Hart continued. “I understand why people would be upset, which is why I made the choice to not use them anymore. I don’t joke like that anymore because that was wrong. That was a guy who was just looking for laughs and I don’t do that anymore.”

Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

DeGeneres was in Hart’s corner, saying that she supported her friend and didn’t believe he was homophobic.

Many members of the gay community felt otherwise when people, using the hashtag #OscarsSoHomophobic, began resurfacing previous tweets in which Hart used anti-gay slang. A clip from Hart’s 2010 comedy special Seriously Funny, in which he made a homophobic joke, was also sent around. Hart said at the time, “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”

Back in 2015, Hart addressed the comments in a Rolling Stone article. “It’s about my fear. I’m thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it?” Hart said in the feature. “Not that I’m not gonna love my son or think about him any differently. The funny thing within that joke is it’s me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it’s about me. That’s the difference between bringing a joke across that’s well thought-out and saying something just to ruffle feathers.”

The Ride Along star also told Rolling Stone he wouldn’t repeat the joke. “I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now,” he said. “I think we love to make big deals out of things that aren’t necessarily big deals, because we can. These things become public spectacles. So why set yourself up for failure?”

Many critics online have knocked that apology, slamming it for appearing to be more of an explanation than an admission. (Hart did apologize when stepping down from hosting the Oscars, tweeting, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”)

On his CNN show Friday night, Don Lemon — himself a member of both the black and LGBTQ communities — criticized the appearance on DeGeneres’ show as “insincere,” saying Hart was able to “somehow turn himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia.”

“Someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the entire world, he can be a leader … he can help change homophobia in the black community,” Lemon said on Friday, noting the high percentage of homeless LGBTQ youth in America who are black. “Those views of the LGBT people in the black community have consequences. … Those kids were likely kicked out of their homes or had to run away because of who they are.”

RELATED VIDEO: Ellen DeGeneres Supports Kevin Hart in Chat About Hosting the Oscars

DeGeneres said on Friday’s show that she had discussed the issue with Hart. “As a gay person, I am sensitive to all of that,” DeGeneres, 60, added of the outcry over his remarks. “And I talked to you about this and you’ve 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’re apologizing again.”

DeGeneres told Hart that she had been actively campaigning for him to get his job back, calling the Academy on his behalf. “They were like, ‘Oh my god, we want him to host. We feel like that maybe he misunderstood or it was handled wrong or maybe we said the wrong thing but we want him to host. Whatever we can do we would be thrilled,’ ” she said. “Don’t let those people win. Host the Oscars.”

Kevin Hart
Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Hart didn’t give DeGeneres a definitive answer as to what he would do, but he seemed reluctant. “If you go back and I don’t have a word and I don’t have a bond and I don’t have anything to stand on, I’m now going back into the place where the people who came after me want me to go,” Hart told DeGeneres on Friday’s show. “Somebody has to take a stand against the ‘trolls.’ You have to.”

Still, the Night School star later said he would reassess his decision to walk away from the hosting job. “This is a conversation I needed to have, I’m glad that I had it here, and I’m glad that it was as authentic and real as I could have hoped that it would be,” he said. “So let me assess, just to sit in this space and really think, and you and I will talk before anything else.”