Should The Onion apologize for calling Quvenzhané Wallis a c*nt? (Update)

By | February 25, 2013 at 10:08 am | 20 comments | feature slider, News | Tags: , , , ,

UPDATE: 2:10 pm ESTThe Onion has apologized. The full statement is below:

On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.

The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.

In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.

Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.

Sincerely,

Steve Hannah
CEO
The Onion

——–

By the end of the 85th Annual Academy Awards last night, The Onionnot host Seth MacFarlane — was at the center of yet another comedy vs. free speech controversy. Almost immediately after this post from The Onion‘s official Twitter feed — “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?” — backlash erupted. Celebrities and civilians defended nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for a best lead actress Oscar for her work in Beasts of the Southern Wild. The Onion’s tweet was quickly deleted, though its feed has remained active this morning.

“Calling a nine year old girl a Cunt IS NOT SATIRE!” tweeted actor LeVar Burton to his nearly 1.8 million followers. Meanwhile journalist Joel Stein defended the tweet, explaining to his nearly one million followers, “We got that @TheOnion was making fun of our celeb-obsessed, celeb-jealous, celeb-dissing culture and not Quvenzhané Wallis, right?”

Just a few hours ago the No Oxygen Coalition, who just last month claimed victory in getting cable network Oxygen from not moving forward with a show called All My Babies’ Mamas, launched at petition demanding The Onion publicly apologize for its tweet in addition to demanding “an immediate firing of the editor and a review of your staffing decisions which made you feel comfortable to call a 9 year old child a CUNT.”

Our question to you, dear Laughspinners, is what do you think?

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  • James

    celebrities and actors spoke out to “defend” her? there’s nothing to defend. this wasn’t an attack. if this was a post in seriousness it’d be offensive, inappropriate and horrible. but it wasn’t. it’s funny because of how not a “cunt” she is. and calling honey boo boo a cunt would be a whole different story, because that would likely be in seriousness. this is like calling mr. rogers an asshole or yo-yo ma a hack. everyone knows how far from the truth that is so it’s funny.

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  • Brett

    Most people defending this comment point to the “slippery slope” argument and that if we start putting limits on what comedians can say on stage and limiting free speech, the art form will not survive. However, while I would agree with that argument in almost every conceivable instance, there are indeed limits, and the line can be pretty easily defined. Comics/satirists should be able to say anything they want about any TOPIC they chose. Comics/satirists should be able to say anything they want about any ADULT they chose, especially celebrities, athletes or anyone else who has put themselves in the public eye. However, it does not take much to realize that children, especially young children, should be off limits. Children are impressionable and easily hurt. A statement that an adult can (or, at least, very well should be able to) brush off can cause serious damage to a child. The recent documentary “Bully” exposes some of this, but a developing child should not be a target … of a joke, or anything else for that matter.

    • Jorge Garrido

      If nobody had gotten up in arms about this she never would have seen it. She probably still won’t see it despite the controversy.

      The tweet was a satire on the brutality of our celeb bashing culture.

    • DK

      The joke wasn’t even about this little girl. People have no sense of humor.

      • Brett

        I understand the joke was not “about” this little girl, and that’s exactly my point. To say that “people” have no sense of humor is short-sighted and completely misses the point I was making. If The Union had named an adult in this tweet, I would have laughed and moved on. That is because, as fully developed adults with an understanding of concepts such as satire, *we* understand that it was satire, and *we* are able to separate the joke from the person identified in the joke. However, a young *child* does not have a “sense of humor” as a child has not yet had sufficient life experience to develop one, and has absolutely no concept or understanding of satire, so a child specifically named in a joke will conclude that they are an intended target of the statement. While one might argue that the parents should then step in to explain satire, in many instances the harm will have already been done.

        • DK

          The joke would not have been funny if it had been a comment on just some regular old adult celeb.

          • Brett

            You’re still missing the point. You clearly have no children.

          • DK

            As a matter of fact, I have 3 kids. None of them are on twitter, not even the 13 year old. They aren’t old enough to get the dark sarcasm of the joke, nor are they old enough to understand how widespread misogyny is. I don’t joke like this around them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good adult joke.

            Look, you and I can agree to disagree, okay? I don’t think the apology was warranted, but I also don’t think it is a disaster for art as we know it.

          • Brett

            You’re not suggesting that because your children are not on Twitter themselves that if something was written on Twitter that named them specifically they would have no other way of hearing about it, are you? That would be like believing that your children don’t eat fast food simply because you’ve never personally taken them to McDonalds.

            I am a huge fan of standup comedy and am usually an unwavering champion of free speech and a comic’s right to poke fun at any subject or person. If you had asked me last week if there were any limits, I probably would have said no. But, this particular circumstance has caused me to rethink that position as it relates to children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ally.bruener Ally Bruener

    If the tweet had called Honey Boo Boo a cunt, would anyone have cared? I doubt it.

    • nightscout13

      Finally, some one realizes it. Blacks defended her only because she was black. Blacks don’t care about anyone else.

      • You cunt

        Or it is not about her being black and about her being 9, and given the fact that most idiots like you seem to have missed the part about satire, and it’s meaning, I think they should, you cunt.

  • http://twitter.com/OShaukat Omar Shaukat

    I think given the nature of this website the answer to this poll will be the minority opinion. I applaud The Onion for the bold tweet. However, deleting the tweet and acting like nothing happened was a bullshit move. It’s only a matter of time before they apologize. It’s a shame what can happen to artistic integrity (Yes, I’m using that term to describe a tweet calling a 9 year old a cunt) when your readership is so vast, but that’s the nature of the beast.

    • Dylan

      true… though the more more people who vote, the higher the “yes” option gets…. uh oh….

  • Cody Nelson

    I posted this on your FB, Dylan, but figured it could go here as well: “I’m a fan of satire/comedy, but come on, she’s 9″ or variations of that is all I seem to be reading on the internet today. Nothing like that good ‘ol slippery slope. Adding caveats to comedy = the death of the medium.

    • dylan

      thanks, Cody.

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