Wednesday, February 27, 2013
"The Onion" calls young black girl a c**t
There’s just one thing more shocking than The Onion’s crude tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis: Onion CEO Steve Hannah’s subsequent mea culpa.
“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,” he said in a statement today, following widespread outcry over a message on the microblogging site that referred called the nine-year-old Best Actress nominee a “c—.” Hannah went on to label the tweet “crude and offensive,” “senseless [and] humorless,” and “inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.” Additionally, he said, the parties responsible for posting the joke will be “disciplined.”
Such a frank admission of remorse is unusual for The Onion, a publication that’s never shied away from controversial jokes or strong, vulgar language. In fact, this may be the first time the paper has actually apologized for something it’s written — even though plenty of its creations have stoked the public’s ire before.
What, then, made the Quvenzhané Wallis joke so different from every other offensive quip that’s been published by The Onion? Context seems to be the key. Although full-length stories and videos can flesh out a joke using narrative, a tweet’s 140-character limit makes that sort of development impossible. Whoever wrote that Wallis tweet may have been trying to comment on the way the media treats celebrities, or the difficulties child stars face, or even how Seth MacFarlane had sexualized Wallis with his joke about her and George Clooney. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough space for any of those ideas to be conveyed fully in the tweet — leaving The Onion with a personal attack that did nothing but attempt to shock by calling a child an ugly word.
A joke gone wrong I think.