• Mon, Feb 25 2013

The Onion Called Quvenzhané Wallis A C**t

Quvenzhané-Wallis

I love The Onion. I mean, really, LOVE The Onion. I think it’s a hilarious, amazing, almost invariably clever satirical site with the best headlines and, on occasion, the most poignant explanations of how the public is feeling. But the tweet they sent out last night about Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis went entirely too far. Why? Because you don’t call a 9-year-old the C-word.

Last night, for some bizarre reason, The Onion decided to tweet the following:

Screenshot via Salon.

Very quickly after, the tweet was deleted, but hundreds of tweets were already circulating voicing outrage against the remark. One of those angered by the comment was Oscar winner Marlee Matlin who said, ”Not that they would care, but I have no plans of ever following @theonion for their HORRIFIC tweet about a nine year old Oscar nominee.” Wendell Pierce, of The Wire, pushed at The Onion to reveal the poster, tweeting: “@TheOnion Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous.”

Honestly, I am rarely the kind of person to get extremely upset or think somebody deserves to lose their job over a tweet or one comment. In this case, however, I do think some repercussions should be in order. There are those who have defended the tweet, as people always do when it comes to humor (“nothing should be off-limits, yadda yadda”), but maisonmartinmargielous on Tumblr phrased her, my — and surely innumerable others’ — feelings towards this response quite well:

I can’t believe we live in a world where someone’s right to make a joke supersedes the right of a child to be treated like a human being worthy of respect.

Honestly, let’s think about this for a second: would you, presumably an adult, call somebody who was born in 2003 a “cunt”? Doubtful, because you seem like a perfectly nice person, dear reader, and it is generally not a very nice thing to say to anybody — particularly a child. A child who carries puppy purses named Sammy and says things like, ”Great so far…but I’m not gonna be selfish about it,” when asked about her chances of winning Best Actress. Quvenzhané Wallis is a child, and you just plain don’t call children the C-word. Granted, it’s pretty horrible to call anybody that word, but there is something exceptionally absurd and unpleasant about saying something so mean regarding a little girl.

Yes, The Onion was likely just pointing out the ridiculousness of our celebrity-obsessed culture in which people say cruel things about the appearances, personalities and existences of famous people without a second thought. However, it was a stupid joke with cruel implications and an inappropriate target, no matter the meaning.

As of yet, The Onion has not responded to those who are demanding answers on why the comment was posted, but either way, the Twittersphere has declared its verdict: it is absolutely, positively not all right to call a 9-year-old the C-word. I am still in a bit of shock that this even had to be decided, but at least the vote swung in the right direction.

Photo: Getty

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  • Eileen

    A guy I know from college works for The Onion. I am surprised not at all. They may publish stories we all enjoy, but it seems as if the people attracted to it enough to work for it (or the people hired) are mostly young, single white men with a lot of arrogance and very little taste.

  • Fabel

    I mean, obviously it’s poking fun at several things—the whole “everyone else won’t say it, but I WILL” form of internet criticism, made ridiculous by the subject (an innocent 9-year-old who nobody could possibly have a problem with, at all)

    But gah, they could have achieved the joke without doing… this.

  • Sean

    The Onion has issued an apology. Apparently the tweet was taken down within an hour of being posted: https://www.facebook.com/TheOnion/posts/10151500974969497

  • http://www.facebook.com/meagan.a.thompson Meagan Alyssa

    They have now issued an apology (a pretty good one) on Facebook saying that the individuals involved will be dealt with. By the way, your response to this was eloquently put.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Idlenomore3 Trisha Idleno Morey

    There is a difference between humor and the bullying of a nine year old child. That is bullying. In most states we can no longer call cops “pigs”, why is it we can call a nine year old the “c” word under the umbrella of “humor”. If the writer worked for me I would force him to make a public apology on behalf of my website to show that the website itself doesn’t support the comment. Otherwise, I am done with The Onion.