The Witch Hunt of Kevin Hart

Last week, Kevin Hart was chosen as the host for the Oscars.

In a few hours, he was dropped because people lost their shit on social media. Over tweets from 10 years ago. Yup, you read that right – a decade ago!

In case you’re unaware, hosting the Oscars is considered the biggest gig for a comedian. Kevin Hart had to step down as (in his own words), he did not want to be a distraction on this glorious night where blah blah blah…

Kevin Hart Tweets

Sometimes, I think of myself as a visitor from Neptune and wonder how I’d feel flipping through a newspaper. We live in strange times – parts of the world are facing dictatorial leaders who behead and shoot people on a whim. Then there’s the other side of the world where people get angry for a joke from ten years ago – and violently demand that the person be denied work!

Of course, this wasn’t the first time something like this was happening. A few months ago, James Gunn was fired from tweets that were published a decade ago. It has happened in India too – Tanmay Bhat’s tweets from years ago re-surface everytime there’s any criticism of the fragile, sensitive, constantly PMS-ing government and its leaders.

James Gunn tweets

If we were all booked for saying things like this, we would all be working from jail.

I have often wondered what the point of these witch-hunts is.

Are these actions supposed to be punitive? If yes, what really is the extent of these punishments? Who determines that an entire person’s body of work is made irrelevant overnight? It boggles my mind!

And what happens when a star is ‘brought down’? Do people celebrate? Do they set out on marches and light candles and Hail Jesus? And what about reform? Is there any consideration to what the person feels about the issue today?

In our everyday lives, we are allowed to grow and evolve. Remember dancing to that Falguni Pathak’s song? Yeah, I know you did it. Come on, we all did it. But we grew out, we matured. We learnt that one can dance to Falguni Pathak’s songs only during Navratri, didn’t we?

Then why are celebrities not given a chance to reform for their statements? Are we to be held to our statements forever? Are public statements permanent albatrosses around our neck – to be pointed out and mocked and cursed for all of eternity?

It’s sickening how people seem to enjoy this virtual mob-lynching. It is almost as if there’s a sense of victory, like a revolution has begun? Like the times will be a’changing. The most common argument for such social media witch-hunts is that celebrities enjoy fame, success and money – and hence, they are supposed to be moral examples for the rest of the world.

It is almost as if the fame they enjoy is a privilege that common men bestow on celebrities. And that they are permanently obliged to toe the line of what the followers want! That is such a retarded line of thought, it keeps me up at night.

True, celebrities earn their money when people go to watch their films and shows. But most of them are hard-working professionals who have come up the ladder for decades. And their entire worth is lost due to an angry teenager on the Internet with a Twitter account and onion rings for brains. To troll someone is one thing, but to cause them to lose their work, money and reputation is a hideous trend.

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If one were to zoom out and look at the larger picture – what really is the intent of a social media movement?

Is it to penalise people for having an opinion that is not tangential to your opinion? We are not talking about people who harassed or harmed someone – these were jokes that were assumed to be funny, in a time when people got on Twitter and spat out whatever came to their minds.

Twitter wasn’t a politically correct space ten years ago. It was this gigantic cloud-wall that people took a spraycan to and went crazy. Some of it was moving, some insightful, some stupid.

Or is the point of a social media movement to talk, discuss, embrace and be open to new ideas? What did the witch-hunt of Kevin Hart really achieve when he clearly said he doesn’t relate to those tweets anymore? How is this any different from the Ayatollah of Iran whose fatwa on Salman Rushdie still stands valid because of a book written thirty years ago?

And how many Kevin Hart fans do you think heard the news and sympathised with the LGBTQ cause? How many of them carried candles and vowed never to utter a homophobic slur again?

If anything, these trends widen the rifts, cause more hatred and stereotyping from both ends. For Kevin Hart fans, the LGBTQ community will be viewed as humourless spoilsports. For the LGBTQ community, anybody who enjoys Kevin Hart’s work will be seen as a homophobe.

Unfortunately, we all lie well in the middle of those extremes.

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