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Kevin Hart opens up about why he defended Nick Cannon, Ellen DeGeneres in era of 'cancel culture': 'I know how lonely it gets'

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A year and a half after Kevin Hart faced public scrutiny and the threat of being “canceled” over old homophobic tweets that resurfaced in late 2018, the comedian is opening up about what the experience taught him about the need for forgiveness in a fast-paced social media driven world.

“I don’t want to be in a world where we forget how to forgive, where we forget how to be people,” Hart told Deadline. “I want to understand the place of feeling, and emotion and love, and that comes from a place of forgiveness.”

All of these are emotions Hart has explored since facing backlash for old social media posts and subsequently stepping down from his 2018 Oscars hosting duties through a journey documented on his Netflix series Don’t F*** This Up. But upon reflection, the star explained that the most important part to rebuilding his career since that difficult time was being vulnerable and allowing people to see what he was doing to correct his mistakes — although he admittedly took some time to do so.

“If I could go back... I think that my apology for my past remarks would’ve come sooner, instead of me thinking that people still had the wrong idea,” he said. “I would have said, ‘Look, I want to say to that I’m sorry, once again, and I want people to understand that I don’t feel that way. These are old remarks, and even then, I didn’t feel that way. I was looking for a laugh, and I thought this was a way to it, not realizing the pain and hurt that it could cause. Moving forward in the last 10 years, I haven’t done anything remotely close, and in the future, I never will. I’m not an advocate of any type of violence, in any type of way.’”

The 41-year-old explained that at the time, he didn’t have the knowledge to understand what he was apologizing for or how the public perceived him and his views. “There was a lot of emotion and misunderstanding on so many fronts,” he said. What got him through were the people who continued to support him and help him to truly understand his missteps.

“It wasn’t until I talked to so many peers and friends that I got a different understanding and realized the ball that I dropped, and the moment that I skipped over, and that was one, just acknowledging the hurt and pain of people that are going through what they’re going through — people that are dealing with it on levels that I can only imagine, and that I never even knew was real,” he explained. “For me, in those same conversations, it was about making my peers and friends understand I truly was ignorant to all of this. I had no knowledge about it; I had no understanding about it. So, if it wasn’t for the conversations, I wouldn’t have been able to get to a point of understanding.”

Within today’s cancel culture driven by social media, Hart said, “We’re skipping over that. We’re skipping over the moment of resolution and solution.” With this, he fears that people aren’t given the chance to learn from their mistakes.

“If people [have done something] wrong, the idea of canceling those people, and ending whatever career or thing they have… If it’s just over, then what’s the teachable moment for them? What, it’s over, and then you can’t do nothing else for the rest of your life, because you made a mistake?” he questioned. “What happened to the days of making a mistake, learning from the mistake, not doing that, and educating others on what not to do because of your mistakes? Isn’t that parenting? Isn’t that the world of raising a kid? How do you know what to tell your kid to do or not to do? You have to be in a position of experience to say, ‘Don’t touch that stove because it’s hot,’ because you touched it when it was hot. I can’t give you that lesson if I don’t have the experience.”

Now, after going through his own highs and lows, Hart expressed why he has defended his friends, Nick Cannon and Ellen DeGeneres, while they face similar public scrutiny.

“In times like this, I know also how dark it gets. I know how lonely it gets, because I know that these are times when people just turn their back on you,” he said. “So for the ones that you love, that are close to your heart, you just want them to have some support, when it seems that there is none out there, and that’s just who I am as a person.

“I don’t lose sight of the definition of friendship, and in our business, it’s one thing that people don’t really hold on to. There’s a lot of relationships that are fake, and there’s some that are real. In my case, the ones that are real are the ones that I’m always going to be adamant about speaking on behalf of.”

He added, “When it comes to Nick, and it comes Ellen, I know who they are, and I know who they’ve been for the years that I’ve been around them, and I can only speak to that. Those are two of the most amazing people that I know.”

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