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Onion issues apology for Quvenzhane Wallis tweet

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First, there's a rare apology from the frequently spot-on satirical publication The Onion for a "crude and offensive" Twitter crack made (and quickly removed) about nine-year-old "Beasts of the Southern Wild" actress Quvenzhané Wallis: "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a [c-word], right?"

It went out to nearly 4.7 million followers and was retweeted countless times. The company posted a link to its mea culpa on Twitter as well. Here is it in its entirety.

No stranger to controversy, last year the publication was lambasted for using the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a basis for joking about a jet bearing the Sears logo crashing into the Willis Tower.

But some Onion staffers strongly disagreed with their former employer's decision to nix the Tweet, arguing that it set a dangerous precedent.

"It shows they don't have faith in the writers, or in their public," former editor Joe Garden told Buzzfeed.com. "It looks worse that they took [the tweet] down. My reaction was, 'It wasn't a great joke, but big deal. I saw where they were going, and the commentary was about the media construct and the Oscar hype in general. But the tweet was shocking for the sake of shocking, but I think that [taking it down] was not the way to handle it."

Garden and other one-time Onion staffers posted a mock apology on the Facebook page for their Adult Swim project "Thing X."

On the other hand, the Onion's erstwhile director of digital, Baratunde R. Thurston, offered these thoughts on his Facebook page:

"[The joke] wasn't necessary and was loaded with horrible language. In the context of what I've read about Seth McFarlane's jokes, I feel especially bad for Wallis and her family who won't 'get' or care what the comedic idea was and only know that some comedy news organization called their little girl a disgusting, sexist name. It just comes across as mean. Intention does matter, and based on my time [at the Onion], I'm sure the intent was not, 'Hey let's call this little girl a c---. Ha. Ha.' However, RECEPTION and context matter as well, and this utterly failed in that regard.

I'm glad The Onion removed the tweet (which BTW for that outlet is a massive massive decision)."

The Onion couldn't be reached for comment about its latest fumble, but a voicemail message offered this bit of advice:

"For content concerns, please refer to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. For content corrections, please note that we do not make mistakes. And if you feel like ranting, you can send an email to corrections@theonion.com."

Dear Readers,

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.


Steve Hannah


The Onion

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Thomas published on February 25, 2013 11:48 AM.

Final thoughts: Bill Zwecker weighs in on Oscar night was the previous entry in this blog.

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