The Onion crosses the line

If a website known for biting satire issues an apology, should it be taken seriously? Or is it satire too?

Live by it, die by it, The Onion is learning.

In its Oscars tweetfest last night, The Onion used a vulgar term to describe 9-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. She was nominated for her role in “Beast of the Southern Wild.”

JessicaLaShawn, a blogger at Chicago Now, saw racial overtones.

Why is this socially acceptable on social media? Are we “OK” with belittling minorities in such a fashion. I am aware that ‘The Onion’ is used to making headlines because of its humorous take on real life situations but where should we draw the line. What is the logic behind this type of language and what type of respect do we have and or are missing to refer to a child in such a fashion. This child’s night will be haunted by this tweet. I am sure her publicist and family have been made aware already.

Lets be clear, I am speaking from the perspective of a motivational speaker that attempts to teach young girls like Quvenzhane to love who they are, embrace their talents and be strong no matter what. When you see adults acting in such a disrespectful way how can you teach wrong from right? How can this girls mother let her know that this is just ignorance at its best? How can Ms. Wallis not be upset even if she doesn’t fully understand the debate brewing over this? You cant. You just have to know better and maybe, one day, understand but someone should be held accountable for this! I want every last person that vowed to boycott Kanye West when he cut Taylor Swift off to be as passionate about this little girl being disrespected. I know the two aren’t associated but they are equal in my eyes. Her moment was stolen too!

Today, The Onion apologized. We think.

Feb. 25, 2013

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

On The Onion’s Facebook page, many commenters seemed bewildered by the need for an apology.