Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly stated he'd be willing to see Kevin Hart return to host the Oscars if the comedian showed some "contrition" for past remarks deemed homophobic by many, which is odd considering his unwillingness to budge on the decision to terminate Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn for similar reasons.
After a sizzling few years of mainstream hits, Hart lobbied for and accepted the role as host of the 91st Academy Awards back in early December of 2018. But two days after the announcement, old homophobic tweets surfaced that served Hart with a massive backlash. It was in the midst of said backlash that Hart apologized for his past words and simultaneously stepped down from the hosting gig to ensure that he wasn't a "distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists." Hart later went on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to further explain his position and apologize, and DeGeneres, also a former Oscar host, proceeded to tweet her endorsement of Hart as a person, comedian and potential Academy M.C. She even went so far as to make a personal call to the A.M.P.A.S. on Hart's behalf. As of now, the comedian has made no statement as to whether or not he would reconsider the job, nor has the Academy publicly stated their wish for him to return. Interestingly, Bob Iger, has defined a position.
The Disney CEO told Variety during last night's Golden Globes red carpet that he wasn't opposed to Hart's possible return to the 91st Academy Awards, provided the comedian showed some "contrition." While Iger didn't seem optimistic Hart would actually take the job again, the CEO did make it clear the move wouldn't be opposed by him:
If you’re asking me whether I would have accepted him actually him doing it, the answer is yes, provided that he showed a little bit of contrition for some of the things he said a while back. I was open-minded about it.
While that's great news for Kevin Hart (despite the fact that Iger went on to say he was leaving the decision to the A.M.P.A.S. and ABC), it marks a curious deviation from Iger's behavior in similar recent situations. Barely six months ago, Disney fired GotG director James Gunn for controversial tweets the director had made well before his involvement with the studio and had apologized for since. Gunn apologized again after they resurfaced, but Disney remained unmoved despite having presumably known the director's history before hiring him. Despite a massive backlash against Gunn's firing, Iger and Disney have refused to backtrack on their initial decision and Gunn remains off the franchise he helped conceive.
Hart also doesn't mark the first time Disney's taken past behavior on a case-by-case basis. Roseanne Barr had a long history of rhetoric that was at different times provocative and offensive, right up until the launch of the Roseanne reboot. While she was fired, it was clearly a straw that broke the camel's back situation and to many felt like too little, too late from a studio that had been well-aware of her propensity for being divisive regardless of consequence.
It may be that Iger's lack of personal stake in who hosts the Oscars that has made him relaxed in his feelings toward Hart, or it could be that he learned enough from the James Gunn backlash to not go the same route again. If the latter is the case, unfortunately it doesn't look like it will change things for Gunn or GotG3, though it might indicate the studio has learned to be less trigger-happy in the wake of the past year.