Here, have some quick biographical facts about Kevin Hart and Lil Nas X, apropos of whatever: Hart is 40, one of the world’s highest-paid stand-up comics, and, for like a minute there, he was supposed to host the Oscars earlier this year. Said minute abruptly ended, though, after folks resurfaced some of his early stand-up material and social media, some of which contained blatantly homophobic jokes. It’s stuff Hart had stopped performing or talking about circa 2011, but which he also seemed completely unwilling to apologize for, or even really confront, beyond some largely meaningless blanket statements about “spreading positivity.” Hence him losing the Oscars gig, and emerging from the whole situation…Well, not necessarily wiser, but at least, a little older. (He also just had a fairly serious car wreck requiring back surgery, which adds a weirdly fraught layer to the whole conversation that’s about to follow.)
Lil Nas X is 20. He’s the undeniable breakout star of the summer, combining social media savvy with some genuine musical chops in order to transform himself into a particularly infectious breed of long-term viral star. He’s also a young up-and-comer with a lot to prove (and a new video coming out shortly, for his song “Panini”), and everyone is just sort of watching him right now, waiting to see if there’s more to him than a bunch of jokes about the horses in the back. Anyway, those are our two main characters.
So obviously, one of these two people recently gave the other a solid, calmly spelled out lesson on the inarguable nature of homophobia, especially in the world of hip-hop, schooling them on some of the hard realities of the industry, right? Let’s play a game, though: Which of these two men—the veteran, successful comic, or the young, ambitious riser—was in the role of the world weary teacher, handing out lessons to the brash, interrupting student?
Just kidding: We all already know it was Nas who had to educate Hart, as made clear in an above clip from HBO’s The Shop. The musician—who announced he was gay last month—tries to talk about his motivations for, and fears of, coming out during the interview, only to get loudly interrupted by Hart, who appears to have adopted a very “I don’t even SEE orientation!” attitude to all instances of someone talking about being LGBTQ. (“He said he was gay, so what?” is hypothetically an egalitarian thing to say, for instance, but not when you’re literally yelling it over the person talking about how difficult it was to come out.) The ensuing conversation is legitimately surreal, as Hart acts like he truly doesn’t know that homophobia exists, or that it’s rampant in both country and hip-hop, and why on Earth would Nas have chosen to grow up being taught to hate gay people in the first place, huh?
It’s not a great look, even as the rapper—who’s been vocal about going after people trying to mess with him on this topic on social media—just looks kind of bemused, like “Hey, you’re Kevin Hart; you definitely know homophobia exists.” Per THR, Hart later made it clear in the episode that he supports Lil Nas, saying he “‘in no way, shape, or form should’ should have to ‘defend’ himself as gay by saying, ‘But guys, this is what I am.’” Which is very nice, but it also gives us a great idea for a Kevin Hart movie: He plays an extremely rich and privileged guy who gets amnesia, but only for the existence of homophobia, and also his own past participation in it. What a heartbreakingly hilarious comic send-up that would be!