The Onion had no need to apologise for calling Quvenzhane Wallis a c*nt
THE Onion called 9-year-old Best Actress Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis a c*nt. The Onion tweeted:
Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c*nt, right? #Oscars2013
Actor Wendell Pierce responded:
“Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous.”
John Jones wrote:
“Comedians usually stick to their guns, right or wrong. Pretty telling that the Onion pulled their tweet about young Quvenzhane Wallis…”
Elizabeth Hawksworth bizarrely said it was about race:
“Quvenzhane Wallis is a nine year old woman of colour. Let’s let what @TheOnion did sink in and remember that Dakota Fanning never had this.”
You can project your own agenda onto the offensive. And it is offensive. It is also painfully unfunny.
After the Twitter frenzy, The Onion duly apologises:
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.
But someone must have laughed at it. It’s shock comedy, or an attempt at it. The Onion’s problem is that it broadcasts to everyone, not just people who buy into sick jokes. It misread the audience.
The other problem is that satire now is rarely controversial.
When it works, satire can damage politicians’ reputations and undermine prejudice and conservative ideas. However, when nobody believes in politicians, state institutions or old-fashioned morality, who are satirists hurting and what effect are they having?
In such conditions simply continuing to poke fun at those in power is not telling anybody anything new, it is just reinforcing cynicism. And judging by what’s on offer, it’s not even funny any more. This is the major problem for satire right now.
Yahoo!’s Greg Hughes makes a point:
“The Onion made a pretty significant faux pas tonight on Quvenzhane Wallis. They deleted the tweet, but the Internet doesn’t ever forget.”
The internet offers a forum but not context.
Australian comic Jim Jeffries outlined the rules of modern comedy:
“You can’t do jokes about black people or Asian people, but you can do a rape joke onstage now and there’s not a problem.”
You pick on aceptable soft targets. Jeffries is not daring or edgy; he’s just pandering to what he thinks will sell tickets.
Was The Onion, in its heavy-handed tweet, mocking these imposed limits of PC speech. Call a very talented, vivacious child the ultimate swear word and show that you do not adhere to the correct etiquette. Say it with feeling, real emotion – like you believe it – and some of the crowd will laugh.
What frightens the outraged is not that The Onion, a funny, sensitive organ, makes the joke, rather that some of its audience will laugh at it. Their patronising view is that audience will not be able to spot The Onion’s Tweet as humour, but will instead see it as a statement of fact.
The only fall out from this is that in the act of censoring the offending tweet, the offended have given grounds for a comic who wants to be edgy to say it again…
Photo: Actress Quvenzhane Wallis eats popcorn in the audience during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.
The last word is the last word (NSFW):
At the Comedy Store, at the height of political correctness, Jerry Sadowitz won a bet with fellow comics by saying: “Nelson Mandela, what a cunt.” It was only the next night that he thought of a punchline for such an inflamatory comment. “You lend some people a fiver and you never see them again.”