During last night’s Oscars ceremony, The Onion fired off a controversial tweet about one of the nominees before quickly deleting it an hour later. The original tweet read:
Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013
Many on Twitter and blogs felt the joke about the nine-year-old Beasts of the Southern Wild star was offensive and that such a vulgar word shouldn’t have been used in regards to a child, while others like Time’s Joel Stein and comedian Dave Anthony came to The Onion’s defense by arguing that everyone was missing the tweet’s satirical point and that it was intentionally insulting an innocent child in order to shed light on the ways in which Americans talk about celebrities. While I’m not defending the joke, a lot of the headlines and online outrage over the issue have incorrectly framed the story as “The Onion called Quvenzhané Wallis a cunt,” making it seem like the joke was a personal attack upon the child star. But at the end of the day, The Onion did still use an ugly terrible word to refer to a child, and if the writers were really proud of the tweet, they wouldn’t have deleted it.
UPDATE: The Onion issued an apology this morning via Facebook, which you can read in full below:
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.Sincerely,Steve HannahCEOThe Onion