As we reported earlier, The Onion wrote a pretty horrible thing about Quvenzhané Wallis last night on Twitter. The ill-advised tweet said, “Everybody else seems to be afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?” Granted, it was likely just a critique on our hypercritical way of speaking about celebrities — particularly female ones — and how cruel those comments can get, regardless of how totally defenseless and adorable the target it may be. People were pissed, and rightfully so: it was a horrible thing to say.
However, The Onion issued an apology on their Facebook page shortly ago saying the following:
Feb. 25, 2013
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.
Considering how many people were outraged by the comment and unsubscribed to The Onion as a result, it’s no wonder that they apologized. Though there are few boundaries when it comes to the Internet making fun of the Not Internet, calling a little girl carrying a puppy purse (no, I will not stop referencing Sammy) is one of those lines you just can’t cross — particularly if you are part of a major website like The Onion.
Even after the release of the apology, though, people are still not satisfied. Though this type of response from The Onion is very rare, many are still asking for the head (well, name and email address) of the person who tweeted the comment. As actor Wendell Pierce said, “Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous.”
Okay, here’s the thing: while I am still absolutely livid that somebody could say something so remarkably stupid about a 9-year-old (WITH A PUPPY PURSE), I am satisfied with The Onion’s apology. Again, an apology from this website is so rare; they have faced serious, enormous criticism before for controversial behaviors and posts, yet still refused to issue any form of remorseful response. Here, the response sounds both genuine and kind towards Wallis.
As for doling out the poster’s name: chances are, the person who posted this feels like an idiot. A shitty, terrible, freaked out idiot who is probably just a frightened intern who tried too hard to get a laugh using words he or she found clever, not realizing it was in seriously poor taste. Having the name of this person published is not something that will actually do anything except sic a mob of angry Internet folk and lead to every employer in the future who searches that name to say, “OH, you’re that guy.” Yes, it was a dreadful thing to say, but it is by no means worth ruining somebody’s career or — given that the Internet is what it is — causing that writer to be on the receiving end of threats.
For me, this apology is satisfactory. Obviously, it’d be most redeemable if we could know what Ms. Wallis thinks, but I am pretty certain it’s best if she is totally unaware that she was called the C-Word in the first place, satire or not. For now, though, I think the quick gesture and sincere words are the most (and best) The Onion can do.