Cannon was attempting to highlight hypocrisy by highlighting old tweets by Silverman, Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler, after Kevin Hart stepped down as Oscars host amid a row over his past homophobic comments.
The actor and comedian said he had refused to apologise for the tweets, which were posted from 2009-2011 and have mostly been deleted, when asked to do so by the Academy Awards organisers. He later stepped down from the role because "I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists". He also apologised to the LGBT+ community "for my insensitive words from my past".
Among the 2009-11 tweets was a now-deleted post that read: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”
People also resurfaced a video from a 2010 standup special, in which Hart delivered an extended joke based on the fear his three-year-old son will be gay. In 2015, Hart revealed that he turned down a role in 2008’s Tropic Thunder because the character was gay and his behaviour was “real flagrant”, before adding that he’d never be able to play a gay character in the future.
However, several LGBT+ comedians stepped forward to point out what they perceived as a difference between Hart’s comments and those by Schumer, Silverman and Handler.
“I'm a gay comic who has had his voice amplified by @SarahKSilverman @amyschumer and @chelseahandler,” Guy Branum wrote. “I've been close enough with two of these comics to say I didn't like gay jokes that they did, and they respected & engaged,” he tweeted. “I wish @KevinHart4real & @NickCannon could do the same.”
“Sarah has practically gone joke by joke through her old catalog and apologized for material she wouldn't say now, with specific reasoning,” Louis Virtel tweeted. “She has never been above criticism and it is ridiculous she's being compared to him.”
Billy Eichner also provided his thoughts in a note shared via Twitter. While he tweeted that he appreciated Hart's apology, he also called for all comedy stars not to use such hurtful language.
“People have been tweeting me for my thoughts on Nick Cannon’s tweets. I obviously can’t speak for the entire LGBTQ community. But here’s my personal opinion for those who care, which is probably not that many people. #SundayFunday
“People have been tweeting me about Nick Cannon's tweets and the use of the F-word by the comedians that he points out,” the Billy on the Street star wrote. “I think Nick's point is a compelling one. I obviously do not and cannot speak for the entire LGBT community (obviously). But here's my personal opinion: Just don't use the word. It's as simple as that.”
Neither Schumer nor Handler has commented on Cannon's tweets. However, Silverman recently re-shared a Twitter thread by author Greg Hogben with a heart emoji. She also replied to a social media user, who wrote,“but that whole part where you replied to a tweet where you used a word with ‘I don't use that word.'”
“Haven't for years,” she wrote. “I did then. I don't now. See? But even then (I thought) I was using it comedically [sic] as an ally (liberal bubble bulls—t, I know now).”
Hart's replacement has not been named by the Academy.
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