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:
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.