What sparked the Onion's online tirade against Quvenzhané Wallis?
Sometimes, irreverent comments can be pretty funny on Twitter. But when posters go too far, they can backfire in horrid, embarrassing ways. Which is how the CEO of online humour site The Onion found himself apologising for a Tweet calling Quvenzhané Wallis a c**t.
The Oscars ceremony was pretty risque even by Seth McFarlane standards, with jokes about domestic violence, Jews, and that whole "We Saw Your Boobs" song. The Academy took a lot of heat for it. But it all paled into significance compared to the Onion's Twitter post.
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c**t, right?” said a baffling tweet by the otherwise funny parody paper on Sunday night (asterisks are mine).
It's a politically charged word at the best of times, but The Onion used it on a nine-year-old girl. Quvenzhané Wallis rocked her performance as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild, for which she became the youngest ever nominee for best actress.
The Onion deleted the Tweet an hour later, leaving us to wonder what possessed it. Did the intern responsible for managing the Twitter feed that night get caught up in Seth McFarlane's off-colour ranting and decide to take it to the next level? The presumed intention was irony. The problem with irony is that it’s blunt, and unsophisticated, and perhaps the second lowest form of wit.
In any case, CEO Steve Hannah issued an apology yesterday. He personally apologised to Miss Wallis, and the Academy for the tweet. "No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humourless comment masquerading as satire," he said, adding that the company has tightened up its Twitter management to make sure it doesn't happen again. "Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry," he said.
It may be difficult not to take an insult like that from a hugely successful online magazine personally when you’re just nine years old. In any case, the child star will hopefully recover. She is set to star in Steve McQueen's forthcoming 12 Years a Slave, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt.
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets