The Onion is a routinely funny, usually quick-witted satirical newspaper, but needless to say it did not go over well last night when they called the 9-year-old Oscar-nominee Quvenzhane Wallis the c-word. Someone manning The Onion's Twitter feed sent this tweet out around midnight last night (8:42 PST):
As Buzzfeed's Kate Arthur notes, the tweet stayed up for about an hour, and then was deleted without an explanation after a severe backlash. Michelle Malkin's Twitchy ran with the outrage with this headline:
...And this tweet:
Disgusted readers unfollow The Onion after vile tweet sliming 9-year-old actress bit.ly/W5StRF— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) February 25, 2013
This was one of the times where Malkin and Keith Olbermann, saw eye to eye (we're crossing our fingers and hope that the world does not end tomorrow):
And voicing the opinion of a faceless Internet horde, USA Today's Maria Puente explains: "The Onion is notorious for its cutting satire, but it's usually at least a little funny. But, as a zillion tweets kept repeating, this remark wasn't funny."
The Onion should totally apologize. As fellow actor Wendell Pierce eloquently points out, you just do not call a 9-year-old a c-word and it's totally within our free speech rights to think the social media person behind The Onion's feed is an idiot:
On the other hand, as The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum tweeted out last night, The Onion was trying to make a point, but was lost in stupidly tacky moment:
Time's Joel Stein explained it better than we could:
We got that @theonion was making fun of our celeb-obsessed, celeb-jealous, celeb-dissing culture and not Quevenzhane Wallis, right?— Joel Stein (@thejoelstein) February 25, 2013
Finally, the anonymous, but super prescient tweeter @amaeryllis points out that you can be angry at The Onion's word choice, but should also be angry at the bigger cultural point that isn't always as clear as The Onion's misstep:
Update, 11:49 a.m. Eastern: In a Facebook post, The Onion has apologized:
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.
Update, 2:55 p.m.: The Onion's apology seems to have raised new questions about restraint at the paper of satirical record.