Beloved nine-year-old Beasts of the Southern Wild co-star Quvenzhané Wallis ’26 (I can’t pronounce it either) didn’t win the Oscar for Best Actress, but she did become an unwitting hero of the Twittersphere after The Onion tweeted out a tasteless joke at her expense:
The Onion (or whoever has the enviable task of running its Twitter feed) removed the joke an hour or so later, but the Internet doesn’t forget so easily—The Onion and #UnfollowTheOnion are trending up a storm, and the incident has been documented everywhere from Buzzfeed to Salon to the Associated Press, which summed up the controversy as such:
The satirical newspaper called Quvenzhane (kwuh-VEHN’-juh-nay) Wallis an expletive intended to denigrate women. The joke was meant to parody how beloved Quvenzhane is, but many thought the language inappropriate for discussing a child.
The Onion deleted the tweet about an hour after it was posted. Still, that was enough time to create a firestorm online with many saying the remark crossed a line.
It’s a rare miss for America’s Finest News Source, and it reminds me of that time they accidentally convinced a bunch of people that gunshots were popping off in Congress. While The Onion hasn’t released any sort of statement, some comedians have come to its defense, arguing that the tweet was mocking America’s celebrity culture rather than Wallis:
We got that @theonion was making fun of our celeb-obsessed, celeb-jealous, celeb-dissing culture and not Quevenzhane Wallis, right?
— Joel Stein (@thejoelstein) February 25, 2013
You can be mad at The Onion all you want – …but that tweet was brilliant satire of our culture. You hated… tmblr.co/ZbT3LteyjsMU
— daveanthony (@daveanthony) February 25, 2013
if people are genuinely upset about that Onion joke – coming from The Onion – it’s time to shut down Twitter and then after that the USA.
— iain morris (@iainkevanmorris) February 25, 2013
But how can you explain that to the nine-year-old girl herself? Anyway, I can’t wait for like four different Jezebel posts problematizing all of this in the morning.
Speaking of Quvenzhane Wallis, I just found out she has her own Twitter, and it’s run by her parents:
Wow!!! I just met @miley Cyrus. She is such a nice person. Thanks
— Quvenzhane’ Wallis (@IAMQUVENZHANE) February 14, 2013
Thanking God all day, everyday. He is worthy to be praised.
— Quvenzhane’ Wallis (@IAMQUVENZHANE) February 16, 2013
Back to school!!! After a break !!! Oh my!!!!!
— Quvenzhane’ Wallis (@IAMQUVENZHANE) February 18, 2013
Bummer about Beasts of the Southern Wild not taking home the gold. If the Wesleyan Mafia were a real mafia, it would order a hit.
Update: The Onion has issued a rare, straightforward apology for last night’s tweet. “Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better,” Onion CEO Steve Hannah writes. “All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.”