Proving their actions can be just rank as their name, The Onion, an online news source known for heavy, biting satire, received severe backlash this week for a post published on their Twitter page.
The tweet, referring to nine-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis with a disparaging term for female genitals, was posted by a member of the organization at the close of the 85th Academy Awards Feb. 24.
The target of the tweet is the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild and is the youngest best actress nominee in Oscar history.
Though it has since been removed, according to screenshots taken by the Huffington Post, the post read: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c-nt right?"
The social media world soon erupted.
It only took one hour for public scorn to get the tweet taken down, and by Feb. 25
The Onion broke its no-apology policy and said it was sorry.
“It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting,” said a posting to the organizations’ Facebook page by Steve Hannah, chief executive officer of the news outlet.
“No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire,” Hannah said.
“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.”
The Onion did not immediately respond to requests for comment on how those parties involved in the posting of the tweet were disciplined, or the reasoning behind the tweet.
Wallis was nominated in the best actress category for her work in the film which had a total of four nominations including best picture, best director, and best adaptation of a screenplay.
The young actress isn’t the first minor to come under attack at The Onion.
Last year, a satirical commentary supposedly written by seven-year-old TLC star Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson, the child beauty pageant contestant of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” would probably die before age 45 as a result of “likely drug addiction,” “emotional maladjustment and years of unrestricted access to dangerous substances provided by television producers and sponsors.”
The commentary, written in first person, also warned readers that Thompson would “reach an age in which the public inevitably tires of me and I have to resort to pornography or prostitution.”
Fans fell on both sides of the argument, with some outraged at the comment and others upset that The Onion took down the tweet and apologized for the incident.
“I’m disappointed that you admitted fault,” said DeKalb, Ill. resident Jeff Gio, in response to Hannah’s letter. “You are an offensive, satire publication. I thought the tweet was hilarious- only topped by the public’s reaction. Keep it up!”
Still, others found no humor.
“Calling a 9-year-old a “c___” is not a joke,” said Manuel Joe Valerio. “That’s an insult and something a predator would say. Why [are] you even referring something sexual to a 9-year old girl?” he quipped.
While many were strongly for or strongly against, some said that the comment would have been acceptable if another derogatory term was used instead of one referring to genitalia.
“The ‘c’ word should never be used in any context,” said LaTonya Davidson, an Arlington, Texas native and member of the U.S. Navy. “Your writers should have known better,” she said, before adding that the term for female dogs “would have been perfectly acceptable.”
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