The Onion, a satirical news source, has had its moments, including a recent story headlined, "Los Angeles On High Alert As LAPD Back On Regular Duty," following the rampage attributed to ex-cop Christopher Dorner.
That was classic Onion, right on the edge of a story that encompassed tragedy, death and great fear. The headline was light-footed enough to give L.A. a collective chuckle. But with a tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis last night, not so much. (Warning, NSFW material):
The 9-year-old, the youngest ever female nominee in the Academy Awards' best actress category, was already the source of frat-style jokery, with Oscars' host Seth MacFarlane saying this during last night's telecast:
To give you an idea how young she is it'll be 16 years before she's too old for Clooney.
But the Onion's Twitter account, spying that edge we talked about, couldn't help itself and went over head first, with foot-in-mouth, sparking outrage on Twitter:
The Onion, keeping it classy. twitter.com/SinuousMag/sta...
— Sinuous Magazine (@SinuousMag) February 25, 2013
The tweet came down about an hour later, but some users had already captured it for posterity.
We tried to get it: She's an innocent 9-year-old, so to make her the subject of such a misogynist put down is somehow supposed to be so outrageous that it's funny.
But she's also an innocent 9-year-old. Here's what some in the twitterverse had to say:
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) February 25, 2013
I think it's a safe bet to say there's not too many people of color at the @onion office that wrote that awful tweet, nor parents. Or women.
— Lalo Alcaraz (@laloalcaraz) February 25, 2013
.@theonion apologize for your chauvinist & unfunny joke about 9 yr old Quvenzhané Wallis. No women shld b called that especially a child!
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 25, 2013
— Cal Fire News(@CalFireNews) February 25, 2013
Dear @theonion Please fire the person/people who thought it was cool to call Quvenzhané Wallis such a despicable, disrespectful word. Now.
— Liz Dwyer (@losangelista) February 25, 2013
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Fuck you, @theonion. Calling a 9 year old black girl a "c*nt" violates the most basic principles of what it means to be human. Fuck you.
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) February 25, 2013
[Update at 11:55 a.m.]: The Onion's CEO, Steve Hannah, apologized today, stating:
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.