Posted by: mobrienweiss | March 1, 2013

The Onion gets fried after Twitter jab at 9-year-old Oscar nom

20th Century Fox And Fox Searchlight Pictures' Academy Award Nominees Celebration - ArrivalsSomeone acting on behalf of the satirical publication The Onion decided it would be a scream to publish a snarky, supposedly ironic tweet about Quvenzhane Wallis — the youngest ever Oscar nominee — referring to the child who brought her puppy purse on the red carpet, by the four-letter curse word which began with a “c.”

After a storm of condemnation, the editors issued an apology:

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

While many were aghast, the New York Times’ David Carr, who covers the media, apparently thought the apology was unnecessary, tweeting:

“Onion to writers: Tweet incredibly edgy, funny stuff. If you go over the line, we’ll just slide you under the bus.”

The Huffington Post’s chief TV critic, Maureen Ryan said of Carr’s tweet:

“… Carr’s tweet … indicates that he wonders how the writers are feeling, which strikes me as the least interesting part of this. The Onion’s writer or writers had a degree power in this situation (more than 4.5 million Twitter followers, which is just one measure of its influence), and that person or people used it to lob an extraordinarily crude word at a child. Forgive me if I haven’t spent much time thinking about how the whole thing affects them, and a good deal of time wondering if Wallis can be shielded from hearing that word for a long time to come.

Because Carr has a lot of power himself, his tweet was the one that made me despair.

Carr is not dumb. As a media columnist, he’s proven in other situations that he understands how power dynamics work. Why is he so blind to the hierarchies and power imbalances here? Why isn’t he using his power to excavate and examine them, even a little bit?”

Do you think The Onion was right to apologize? What do you think about Carr’s response? About Ryan’s response?  

Image credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images via Entertainment Weekly.


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