In a tweet by a widely read satirical newspaper, The Onion, 9-year-old Academy Award Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis was subjected to a crude, misogynist “observation” during the awards ceremony.
The now-deleted tweet may be found in the "References" section below. The offending word rhymes with "hunt."
Again, Wallis is 9 years old. She sported a purse shaped like a puppy at the awards show. Who denigrates a 9-year-old, for any reason?
Twitter users immediately condemned the comment as offensive beyond words, and then went beyond condemnation by creating an online petition demanding an official, written apology from the Onion.
Around 11:30 a.m. ET Monday, the Onion posted the following apology on its Facebook page:
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.
I have read, laughed with and at, quoted and enjoyed the Onion since its inception. I’m hoping that what we have been subjected to here as a readership, and Ms. Wallis as the subject of its “satire,” is a one-off thing, or the result of new management, or whatever.
In some parts of the world, the Onion is taken seriously. Its satirical approach is sometimes lost on people who do not speak English as a first language, their "mother tongue."
However, here, in the United States, in America, and during that most American of American television extravaganzas, the Oscars, the satire, the jokes, the false-but-understood-to-be-false news stories are taken and understood to be at the least parodies and at most outright fiction. Not in this case, I am sorry to report.
In this case, the Onion demeaned and degraded a child at what probably is the most important, the highlight moment of her young life.
That is way past satire. That is sexist in the extreme. These folks may have damaged this young girl’s psyche in ways that may not manifest for years.
You may notice that I have not referred to the Onion’s treatment of this black child as racist. But, ask yourself, if this was a 9-year-old white girl, would they have been so bold as to use the C-word in describing her?
Let me take a wild guess. The anonymous tweeter at the Onion was a white male. Just a guess, you see. This is an age-old problem with a lot of white guys: the sexualization of black girls and women (Halle Berry, et al.); the mammy-fication of black women (Aunt Jemima); or the black-woman-as-Mother Confessor (Oprah Winfrey).
The more things change...