There are some things that humor just doesn’t cover. Hopefully, the people behind satirical publication The Onion realized this yesterday evening. During the airing of last night’s 85th Oscar celebration, The Onion called 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis one of the most derogatory terms associated with women.
We can’t even type it on the site, so I’ll allow you to read it for yourself:
The tweet was deleted shortly after. But with the internet, once you press send, it’s out there forever.
Now, we all understand satire. And I’m sure The Onion thought this might be a cute way to say something so outrageous and so untrue that people would just have to love it. But this is completely disrespectful and utterly unacceptable. First, children should just be left out of these types of vulgar jokes one because this word is too charged, too painful, too disgusting and offensive to be used in any type of cheap joke. Furthermore, should 9 year old Quvenzhane stumble upon this little “joke” on the internet, is she even old enough to process it yet?
Usually, I appreciate The Onion’s humor but they’ve gone too far with this one. And hopefully, they’ll issue a sincere, well thought out apology to that effect.
The Wire and Treme actor Wendell Pierce had this to say about the offense:
“Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous.”
The sickest part of this whole incident is that The Onion’s use of this sexually suggestive word further sexualizes the image of black women, except this time taking it a step further in applying it to a child who likely hasn’t even hit puberty yet. I’m sure there will be plenty of people to argue that this “joke” has nothing to do with race. I’ll argue that maybe that wasn’t the conscious intent behind it; but what I will say is there is too much history of black women being viewed as nothing but sexual objects to not question the motives behind this despicable tweet.
Prison Culture, an organization dedicated to eradicating youth incarceration, appropriately and accurately summed up the bigger issue behind The Onion’s tweet.
This is bigger than a joke. The social and historical implications behind this tweet, whether they were intended or not, are hurtful to the psyche. The sentiment represented in that tweet show up in other areas in the lives of black women. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For now, what’s done is done. In addition to the sincere apology I hope The Onion releases, I also pray that Quvenzhane doesn’t happen to stumble upon this news and her parents don’t have to endure the daunting task of explaining satire, bad humor and what the c-word means to their 9 year old daughter.
This morning on their Facebook page, The Onion apologized for the offensive Tweet.