The Onion CEO Apologizes for Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet


The Onion can apologize if they want to, but I don't think it was necessary or warranted.

Freedom of speech and all.
Personally, I think if one thing is ok to joke about, all things are ok to joke about. No one has a right to never be offended, regardless of age.

If she is going to have a career in Hollywood, she is going to have to hear much worse things than a crude joke which was not really even directed at her per se.

It is not a joke I would ever make, but I respect The Onion's right to make it, and would never demand anything from the company, be it an apology or a promise to fire those responsible.

Free speech is a two way street, and the first amendment is there to protect the most heinous and vile of ideas and thoughts, not ones we agree with or make us happy.
I get what they were going for, and I'm not a fan of censorship, and I actually don't have a problem with the word 'cunt' depending on how it's used, blah blah blah. But she's 9. She's just 9. There are other ways of making the same point without doing it at her expense, and they should have found one. The biggest reason it pisses me off is that it put her in the middle of this sociopolitical shitstorm right now when she should just be riding a wave of happy/awesome. It's going to tarnish the whole experience for her and be talked about forever. It's good that they apologized but it's hardly enough to make up for that.
The only thing more annoying than everyone feeling the need to apologize for everything these days was all the feigned outrage over this. Everyone needs to get a grip.
Apologizing for something is not an abridgement of free speech. Neither is taking down a tweet. Neither is complaining about a tweet until it is taken down. All of this *is* free speech.
If I laugh when the Onion savages people I *don't* like (and they are brutal, and I do laugh), then I have to allow that they may savage someone I do like (or, at least, don't think deserves it).

Still, a 9-year-old girl? Someone simply should have thought a little harder about it.
She's a little kid leave her the fuck alone.
Freedom of speech means you must NEVER criticize anyone for anything they say. Criticism should be banned to preserve our 1st amendment rights. People who ask for apologies should be forced to quarter soldiers in their home.
The problem with the joke isn't that it wasn't funny, or that it went too far. The problem is that there was a real live nine-year-old girl on the other end of it. Celebrities have personas, and we think we "know" them, but we're really just seeing the marketing campaign. And frankly I don't give a shit about the supposed "real person" behind most of them (though I get uncomfortable when one of them steps out onto the ledge, and essentially the whole world stands by shouting "JUMP! JUMP!" as with Lindsey Lohan, for instance).

But a nine-year-old ought to be different. Frankly, she shouldn't have been there, and shouldn't have been nominated. It's exploitative. And exploiting children is different than exploiting consenting adults.

But the outrage over the joke seems to me to be largely misplaced. It's over the top -- it's MEANT to be over the top. Being over the top is in fact the meat of the joke; it's what makes it funny, or would if it wasn't about a nine-year-old. You can see why they made it, because her being nine in fact heightens the effect, makes it more outrageous and thus more successful.

Except for the person there. Celebrities are fair game. But not nine-year-olds.
@7, 8: The whole point of the joke is that the person being called a "cunt" is in no way thought of that way by anyone, and is too young, innocent, and inexperienced to ever be considered that.

It also mocks the habit of hollywood to "force" these young women into adulthood and all the horrid bullshit it entails. Like being called a "cunt" by assholes you have never met.

For the joke to work, it essentially had to be someone like Wallis.

Now, it being a good or worthwhile joke is another matter.
I can understand taking down a joke that didn't really work.

But firing the tweeter is inexcusable. I love The Onion and am really bummed to see them cave to the oversensitive.
The joke wasn't on the 9 year old so much as the horrible gossip industry. Not appropriate, but I'm sure plenty of those gasping treat celebs as less-than-human.
The person responsible should locked in a cage with Seth McFarland.

Two men enter, one man leaves.
seandr where does it say fired?
Yeah, I can't think of anyone else the joke could have worked with. And I dunno if it was a good joke - when the first time you hear a joke is through a debate about whether or not the joke was horrifically offensive, you're not going to laugh even if it was funny to begin with.
The whole point of the joke is that the person being called a "cunt" is in no way thought of that way by anyone

This statement is false. I started being sexually harassed (and being called a "bitch" and a "cunt" for rejecting the sexual harassment) when I was 10 years old. If you think grown-ass American men don't see young girls, as young as 9, as fair game, you don't get out enough. The joke wasn't funny and was offensive because men in this country DO call 9-year-old girls "cunts".
What blip @6 said.

Censorship is when the government comes in and steps on your figurative throat. Taking down a bad joke of your own volition is not censorship.
whether or not it was funny is completely beside the point. they shit all over the happiest day of a nine year old girl's life. was it satire was it political was it racist was it sexist was it irony was it pointed at TMZ was it over the line was it edgy was it inappropriate was it funny, who cares? they used her without thinking about how it might impact her. she's nine years old. who gives a fuck whether the joke "worked" or not?
Twitter is a terrible platform for edgy humor.

If someone had pitched this joke in a normal writers' meeting, a few people would laugh (and I have to admit, I would probably have been one of them) a few more would groan, one or two would get really mad, and the consensus would be, "OK, that's pretty funny, but we don't fuck with little kids." And that would be the end of it.

Filters can be good. Bouncing ideas off your colleagues can be really good.

Putting whatever pops into your mind out there without any filter can be hilarious...but it can also be very, very dangerous.
I love offensive humor, but aiming it at a 9 year old girl crossed the line for me. I totally get the joke they were going for, but it flopped, badly.
@ 2, not sure where freedom of speech plays into that. Was someone calling for their arrest and prosecution?
@ 15, it's one of the options on the Slog poll (the one with the fewest votes at the moment).
@17: I never said it was funny or that it was not offensive. The point is it does not matter if it is funny or offensive, and your feelings also do not matter. Nor do mine, and nor do Wallis' honestly.

Your experiences and the insane minority/mindset of people who see nine year olds as "fair game," are wholly irrelevant to the issue.
Ah ok thanks - I was only looking at the statement.
After the Dickwolves Penny Arcade saga, Mike said something to the effect of: "people love offensive humor until they are offended." Like @7 said - you can either accept offensive satire as no-holds-barred and choose not to laugh when it isn't funny, or you can read Family Circus. Choosing to read the Onion, but being outraged when it strikes something you value is just hypocritical. Personally, I would be far more offended if the Onion actually fired the writer for a joke that fell flat. The apology is an empty bit of prostration. But the tweet itself was meaningless, just as this comment, the next comment, or pretty much any form of communication over the internet. Words don't have magical agency of themselves. They didn't throw a fucking brick through her window - what does it matter?
It was tasteless, offensive, way over the line, even the Onion's dubious line. They realized it, took it down as soon as somebody responsible noticed.

That should end it.
The Onion has been having a tough time with material since they moved their office from NYC last summer. I still read it, but their gags have been increasingly weird and mean... more about cheap shots than satire... and that's saying something coming from TO. I'm not sure if they needed to apologize, but they sure could use some better writers.
@11 I understand satire and wouldn't fulcrum it off a little kid, at least not like that.
OK, I just read the poll options a little more closely (after actually voting), and I agree with the sentiment:

"[...]if their writers have a filter, it might not be as funny in the future."

This joke, in my opinion, was not funny. But if the writers get slapped too hard and start second-guessing everything, the actual funny AND offensive jokes may cease to be forthcoming.
I though it was hilarious.

I mean who could POSSIBLY think that about young Miss Walls? That's the joke! It also can be seen as satire of the way gossip blogs over-analyze every little potential gaffe by a star.
She's either a cunt or she's not. Can't they fact check it and put it to rest?
As far as I know, no one was calling for the tweeter's arrest and prosecution.
Because we have freedom of speech.
That's where it plays in to that.

That's why I said The Onion can apologize if they want to but it's neither necessary nor warranted.

Because they don't have to. Because they have freedom of speech.
@32--See! THAT'S how you make calling a 9-year-old a "cunt" funny!
Meh. The Onion's been around for so long it feels kind of mean to expect it to be on all the time.
joke was funny as hell. but totally inappropriate.
@slab Suri Cruise's Burn Book is child satire done well, because although it "stars" a child, it is skewering US as a culture. This had zero context and came across as bullying. They apologized. Still, this incident hurt their brand. Men have called women that young and younger by precisely that and other names. AND she was sexualized by Seth McFarlane. She's young, gifted, and black -- couldn't they let her have the night?
I said it over in the morning news and I'll say it here.
Satire is punching up. Calling a little girl a cunt is punching down.
Please tell me how one might go about explaining to this little girl that calling her a cunt speaks truth to power.
This raises the question of who the Onion could have gotten away with using this way. Where is the age-line?

I think they ran into trouble both because Wallis was too young to 'deserve' such treatment, or be able to shake it off, and was also too old for it to be a parody.

As mentioned above, 9-year-olds frequently get called worse, and are aware enough to feel the insult. So the Onion's joke didn't go far enough to be parody.

Next time they should just call a toddler a "dick", or a fetus an "asshole".
I didn't even see it since it's been yanked, but the writers and editors there should have simply chosen a different, less offensive word. I don't know what the context was, so I can't think of a better one to use in this case. It really is unfortunate the Onion has to back pedal. I don't even know who this girl is. I saw exactly one film that was nominated and it sucked.
1. Absolutely inappropriate to address a 9 year old that way, ever. Child actors are still protected as minors by law and cultural agreement.

2. Inappropriate to address a woman (or man) that way as an insult anyway.

3. Too Soon (tm) to use one of the most derogatory insults against a young Black girl for being strong and assertive.

4. Not funny.

Calling her a "bully" could have been debateably funny and would have been PG language.

And Free Speech isn't so fragile that it's obliterated when someone dares to criticize you for what you said or when you retract something you said. You're allowed to say it, but others are allowed to call you out for it.
@Lissa: Satire is punching up. Calling a little girl a cunt is punching down.

A. If you think the little girl was the target of this joke, then you must have missed a turn somewhere.

B. Your definition is incorrect. Satire is the use of humor to expose or ridicule any human folly. "Punching up" accounts for just a fraction of it.
I mostly want to commend The Onion for actually apologizing instead of pulling one of those bullshit "if anyone was offended" apologies, which is how these things usually go.

I'm not saying they should have or shouldn't have, but once they chose to, I think they did it right.
This joke is well written and funny because the true fact of reality is the opposite of what the joke says. "Everyone else seems afraid to say it," (this is funny because literally nobody is thinking this). "but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013," (Funny because she is nicest, most joyful participant the Oscars have seen in a long time).
@42: Don't explain it to me why you think it was appropriate. Explain it to the little girl who got called a cunt.
She's the one upon whom the blow was landed after all.
I've loved The Onion for years. But this crossed the line. I can't think of a situation where it is okay to call a 9 year old a cunt, especially a little girl like that, on a day like that. I know the joke wasn't directed at her, and was intended to mock the Hollywood celebrity culture, and I get that, and it is kinda funny in the abstract. But they still called a real 9 year old girl a cunt in the process, and I'm pretty sure she heard about it by now, and I'm pretty sure she's not old enough to 'get' that the insult wasn't really meant for her. She got called a cunt in front of the whole world. Have a nice day.
I don't really have a problem with offensive jokes. But this was clumsy and witless AND offensive. If they want to call a 9-year-old girl a diva / spoiled brat / whatever, there are more creative, actually-humorous, not-stupid ways to do it.

Also, what @47 said.
" If they want to call a 9-year-old girl a diva / spoiled brat / whatever, there are more creative, actually-humorous, not-stupid ways to do it. "

And if they were intending to mock the Hollywood celebrity culture, there are more creative, actually-humorous, not-stupid ways to do that, too.
@33, hmm. Well, that was awkwardly phrased @ 2. One gets the impression that you feel that any flak they got impinged upon The Onion's freedom of speech. Since no one is calling for their arrest and prosecution, it's superfluous to bring it up in the context you meant.
Call me an asshole, but I thought it was hilarious. BTW, I'm not allowed to say that word. I would if I were allowed to. I don't disagree with taking it down and apologizing, but calls to fire the writer are absurd. I don't understand why the word is banned, English people use that word constantly! And Europeans are sophisticated!
Some jokes make you laugh and cringe, but this joke JUST made me cringe. I thought it completely missed the mark, but I can understand how a lot of people who have never been 9 year-old girls would think it's super funny. I guess?
I laughed.
Stupid people... only idiots think that the Onion actually called her a "cunt".
@54: We're not stupid. We know the target was Hollywood culture, with the sniping and backbiting, etc. However, their execution was poor. Call her a bratty diva, or call Tom Hanks an asshole, to make the joke you want. Or make up a kid's name, fake a photo, and call the fake kid a name.

Now, I also know that the whole point of the joke was to go over-the-top. The problem with going over the top is that sometimes you go too far.

The Onion is not known for its willingness to back off a joke, or apologize for its humor. That they did so here is a sign that they realize they went too far.
They pushed too hard, as comedy must do. They took it back, as decency must do. They fucked up, they owned up, let's move on.
@56: Exactly.
On further reflection, this sounds much more like Gavin McInnes shock-schlock than it does The Onion.