During The 85th Academy Awards, someone from The Onion, the newspaper and online satirical publication, issued a Twitter Tweet about Oscars Best Actress Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis that went way beyond the bounds of acceptable taste.
The tweet referred to the nine-year-old actress using the “C” word. And while it was immediately taken down, and the Twitterverse rightfully attacked The Onion, the anger that it even happened is sill fresh, and it’s likely to stay that way for another few days after NBC’s Rock Center airs this video you’re about to see.
It’s not that the video’s upsetting, but it’s the image that’s likely to be attacked: that of an entirely white, young editorial staff passing judgement on how to cover The Oscars – and out of that group came the vulgar Twitter Tweet. Even though they seem to pass on mentioning Quvenzhané Wallis (and one person didn’t know that she was in Beasts Of The Southern Wild), it could be that they were electing to be nice because NBC’s cameras were in the room.
The tableu of a group of seemingly know-it-all white college-aged kids running The Onion, as opposed to a race-and-age diverse editorial staff with more than one black person on it, has to give one pause in this entire mess.
What if the staff were entirely black? My bet is such a tweet would have never seen the light of day.
The point here is that because Wallis is black, the person who issued the Twitter Tweet viewed her in a way that, to that person, called for something less than the standard level of courtesy.
Let’s see what The Onion’s Chief Executive Steve Hannah does about this beyond this Facebook-posted statement:
Feb. 25, 2013
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.