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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

a feminist film critic defends the Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis tweet

Yeah, I’m going there.

I hate that I have to explain up front, for those not already familiar with my rages and rants, that I am most definitely a feminist of the most hairy-legged sort.

Probably some who read what I have to say here will want to revoke my feminist credentials. Fortunately, there is no central governing body of feminism, and I can say what I like and call myself what I like and not feel as if I’m being unfair or disingenuous.

I also hate that I have to say that of course everyone is entitled to be offended by whatever they want to be offended about, and that, no, it’s not reasonable to tell other people that they’re being unreasonable when they’re offended by something that doesn’t offend you. I am most emphatically not saying that feminists who disagree with me need to get a sense of humor — I’ve been on the receiving end of such nonsense too many times to deploy that myself. I am totally on board with the concept that privilege blinds people to the experiences of others.

I’m only explaining how I saw that Onion tweet. As a film critic and film fan. As a pop culture watcher. As a woman who is fed the hell up with how girls and women are treated by the media and by our society at large. As a feminist.

Here’s what I saw last night from the Onion. Its writers were (mostly) on fire all night, savaging media obsession with celebrities, celebrities’ obsession with media, audiences’ obsession with celebrities, and — perhaps most potently — Hollywood’s reduction of the most serious matters to catty gossip:

I’m not saying that’s not shocking. It is. If you’re offended by it, that’s good. It’s supposed to be offensive. It’s supposed to make you think about how maybe just a little bit, Zero Dark Thirty is a celebration of American gung-ho soaked in blood that Hollywood is applauding. I don’t even know if I agree with that! But it’s certainly something worth talking about.

If “Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In” offends you, it’s worth thinking about why that offends you. Is the concept of even Osama Bin Laden’s blood-soaked rags being paraded about like a trophy offensive… and if it is, what does that say about the actions of the American government after 9/11 and Hollywood’s followup (in making a movie about it)? Or are you offended by the idea that you’re supposed to be offended by the idea that the likes of Bin Laden deserves any respect in death?

There aren’t any easy responses to this. There aren’t supposed to be. I freely confess to being stunned by that tweet from the Onion, partly because it’s provocative in a way that we hardly see in American pop culture. Very few individuals or entities have the nerve to be so challenging to our preconceived notions and to what we accept without even thinking about it.

And then we come to this tweet. The Onion has deleted it, but it was grabbed by many (including, here, reellives):

the Onion Quvenzhane Wallis tweet

My initial reaction to that, when I first saw it, was similar to the blood-soaked-rags tweet: I was shocked. But I wasn’t offended. (Again: I’m not saying it’s wrong if others were offended, okay? But I wasn’t.) What shocked me was how incisively it cut through the utter bullshit about how women (and girls) are treated by our culture. Because, look: Quvenzhané Wallis is adorable. Adorable. And also fierce and strong and bursting with personality, both in Beasts of the Southern Wild, when she was six years old, and now, as a nine-year-old attending last night’s Oscars:

Quvenzhane Wallis Oscars

She’s carrying a puppy purse, for pete’s sake. She gave herself a cheer when her name was announced as a Best Actress nominee. She reprimanded an AP reporter who wanted to call her “Annie” (the role she’s just been cast in) instead of her proper name. She’s awesome.

There is no question about this.

But you know what? All of the women at the Oscars last night are awesome. Just to have survived to that level in an industry that, at best, ignores women, and, at worst, actively despises them means they have to be awesome. Maybe they’re not awesome in ways that everyone sees or acknowledges. But in their own way, they’re fierce and strong and bursting with personality in an industry that is designed not to see women that way. I mean, look: Jennifer Lawrence, who won the Best Actress Oscar, has in recent weeks been called unladylike and crass and ungrateful and all manner of negative things. Plus she’s “fat.” Which is ridiculous. And even if she was fat, so fucking what? Kristen Stewart, who presented last night, was derided all over the Web during the broadcast for being insufficiently appreciative of the celebrity that has been granted her, as if it’s a boon she didn’t earn, and insufficiently enthusiastic about her appearance at the Oscars. (Contrast this with the snide comments directed at Joaquin Phoenix and Tommy Lee Jones and Robert DeNiro, for instance, which focused on their specific behavior at that precise moment — he wouldn’t smile; he looked miserable; he thinks this is bullshit — without ever implying that they didn’t deserve to be there. In fact, the men garner the opposite reaction, in general; the guys see the Oscars as beneath them, and isn’t that awesome cuz it’s true LOL Oscars suck. The gals see the Oscars as beneath them, and how dare the uppity bitches not acknowledge how the fuck lucky they are to be there.)

The best examples of how Hollywood hates women were supplied by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane himself. He sang an entire gleeful song about how he saw famous actresses’ breasts in movies, as if he were 12 years old and had no hope of seeing breasts in real life (maybe, with his attitudes, he doesn’t), including movies in which their characters are abused, even gang-raped. (Yup, so sexy, getting a glimpse of nipple as a woman is being brutally attacked.) He degraded women left and right by reducing all their immense talents to how “beautiful” they are or how human carbuncle Rex Reed might insult their body size.

Hollywood and pop culture — including most pop culture watchers, such as the mostly male ranks of film critics and the mostly rank roster of “serious” film fans who populate movie sites from the IMDb to Rotten Tomatoes – is absolutely vile to women, with extra bile if they’re famous and don’t give that particular boy a boner.

If you wanted highlight how horrible those people can be, how would you do it? You could tweet

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Kristen Stewart is kind of a cunt, right?

But that’s not satirical, because that very thing gets said on a regular basis.

You could tweet

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Jennifer Lawrence is kind of a cunt, right?

But, again, that wouldn’t be satire. It would be the reality of what too many people think and aren’t afraid to say publicly and for all eternity on the never-forgetting Internet.

Jennifer Lawrence cunt Google search

What highlights how outrageous is the loathsome treatment of women on the Web?

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?

That gets attention in a way that calling a famous adult woman the same thing never does. Because it’s clearly outrageous in a way that, apparently, isn’t quite so clear-cut when it comes to an adult woman. But she asked for it by wearing that dress. She’s an attention whore. She likes being in the spotlight. She can stop being famous any time if she can’t take it. We should see such rationales as ridiculous. We can see it when they’re applied to a nine-year-old. But we don’t see it in general.

Well. Okay. Feminist pop-culture watchers see how all women are treated in pop culture as outrageous. But we feminists are still a minority. That Onion tweet was not directed at feminists. It was directed at a general readership that probably has not yet internalized that it’s just plain wrong to talk about women like this, but might possibly understand that it’s just plain wrong to talk about a little girl like this. And might possibly start to get an inkling of a clue.

Now. Could the Onion writers have achieved the same result with this?

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Emmanuelle Riva is kind of a cunt, right?

Riva is, of course, the 85-year-old Best Actress nominee for Amour, an elderly French lady whom no one could say a bad word about, right? Perhaps… although it does not take much imagination on my part to foresee how some Internet idiots would be perfectly willing to rationalize Riva’s likely cuntiness. I mean, for a start she’s French, amirite? (Then again, anyone who can use the word cunt to defame women probably would have no problem with assuming that a little girl could well have “earned” such a label, too.)

So, sure, the Onion could have gone that route. The Onion likely demonstrated some tone-deafness when it comes to issues that some online feminists I respect immensely pointed out, like how women of color come in for extra bonus disrespect and misogyny, and how little girls are inexcusably oversexualized.

But that’s not what this tweet was about. As I think many of my readers would attest, I am attuned to misogyny in pop culture, even the point at which I see it when others don’t. And still, I didn’t see it here. I didn’t see Wallis as the butt of this joke. It seemed completely obvious to me — to the point that I didn’t even have to think about it — that the butt of the joke here is people who say such things about women.

I was, frankly, astonished that so many outspoken feminists whom I hold in high regard were so upset over this tweet. Yes, the tweet is savage. And it’s “funny” only in a bitter, brutal way that holds up our collective callousness to disdain and in despair. But any honest look at the Onion’s output over the years shows that the Onion writers are very hard on misogyny, particularly in the public realms of politics and pop culture. I find it hard to believe that that attitude would suddenly have done a 180.

If someone on the red carpet had said such a hideous thing to Wallis’s face — “Hey, kid, you’re kind of a cunt, aren’t you?” — that would have been despicable. But that’s not what happened, and it’s not what this is about. The Onion did not call Wallis a cunt, as so many have framed it, anymore than the Onion believes, say, that “Intern Just Happens To Be Beautiful 22-Year-Old Woman” or “Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews.”

Yes, the Wallis tweet uses some language that cuts harder and sharper and that comes laden with baggage. But that’s part of why the tweet itself had such an impact.

The flip side, too, is that if you have to explain a joke, the joke has failed. So the Onion screwed up. Just not quite in the way that a surprising number of people seem to think they have.

  • My first instinct was to laugh really sharply. My second was to worry about Wallis’ reaction if she heard the tweet. I totally get what they were going for, but I also get why they felt the need to apologize for it. It’s not that the joke wasn’t excellent and worth making, but I do appreciate the desire to use comedy responsibly as well as brutally. A nine year old girl probably isn’t going to get the subtleties of this kind of humor, and I would hate to see such a sweet kid have her feelings hurt by something that wasn’t meant to be mean to her.

  • Susan Wenger

    Thank you. You’re the first person I’ve seen who has interpreted that tweet the same way I did. And I am also a feminist of the most hairy-legged variety.

  • Danielm80

    See, and I thought that Seth MacFarlane’s jokes about Rex Reed and boobies were hilarious, for more or less the same reason. He was making fun of people who reduce women to their weight or their body parts. (And Adele’s performance of “Skyfall” was a pretty effective rebuttal to anyone who made jokes about her size.) I wish his other jokes had been that funny.

    But as you said: “of course everyone is entitled to be offended by whatever they want to be offended about.” And you’re welcome to interpret the jokes differently.

  • possum

    This is one of the thoughtful things I’ve read (as in it is making me think). I think part of the problem is that: yes, even if Wallis isn’t the “butt of the joke” she is still ‘collateral damage of the joke’ and it isn’t fair that a nine year old adorable actress should be.

  • taloisi

    I think they should have used “bitch” or something slightly less cutting, but with the same tone. I think the c word is what got people angry, more than the tone.

  • How does Adele’s performance rebut her size? There’s no “rebuttal” to her being fat. She is the size that she is. There’s only just not caring what size she is and acknowledging that she’s a gorgeous and talented woman, or all manner of snide and juvenile attempts to point out that she’s a fatty fat fat. Which is exactly what MacFarlane did. His crack about Rex Reed was really a dig at Adele. What’s the point of pointing out her size at all?

  • I guess I don’t see how she’s “damaged” by this. It seems so obviously preposterous that it cannot be taken seriously.

  • Danielm80

    There’s no “rebuttal” to her being fat. She is the size that she is.
    There’s only just not caring what size she is and acknowledging that
    she’s a gorgeous and talented woman…

    I thought that was MacFarlane’s point: People like Rex Reed see a “fatty fat fat,” while everyone else in the audience is awed by her performance. When someone is that talented, superficial comments about her appearance seem even more trivial than usual.

  • Thank you for articulating so well the same thoughts I’ve had about this.

    I think it was a meh joke made with a poor choice of words and “target” (using quotes because the actual target(s) were those not mentioned in the tweet).

    What they were going for was, at least to me, was something akin to saying everyone thinks Betty White is a c*nt.

    If they’d used a less-loaded word than “c*nt” and/or had named a child star who was not a person of color, or who was embraced by the public as being an exceptionally sweet individual, it probably would have gone relatively unnoticed.

    The fact that Miss Wallace is not really a household name didn’t help either, since there’s not as strong a frame of reference to realize ludicrous the description is.

  • Lisa

    Get your point but, as others have said, a nine year old wouldn’t understand the subtlety. Bitch might have been a better word.

  • I didn’t watch the Oscars, and haven’t payed attention to any of the coverage for it, tweets, or anything.

    Still, I really like what you wrote here. It seems blatantly obvious what the writers were going for. The problem is that so very few people out there get this kind of humor. I’m astonished every day how many people simply don’t get satire. They read it in their mind as if it were a real thing. Because of this, I don’t think amending the nasty “c” word down to something a little tamer would have had any different result. People would just be complaining about her being called a bitch(or whatever), and still not getting the meaning behind the joke.

    I forget the name of the site, but there’s a page that puts up posts showing people reacting to Onion articles as if they were real. Funny(and kind of sad) stuff.

  • That would make the difference? How so?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    By a 9 year old child? My 13 year old, who’s pretty clever IMHO, wouldn’t understand that that joke was at the expense of someone else. And even if Wallis doesn’t understand the words now, as you say, what is said on the internet stays on the internet forever. Someday, she is going to come across that tweet. It’s a probability approaching 1. And by then, she’ll know what cunt means. Do you want to be the one to explain to that young woman how the joke wasn’t about her? Good luck with that.

  • But MacFarlane underscored that she’s fat — *he* was the one making a superficial comment — when he didn’t need to do that. Or do you really think everyone was watching Adele and thinking, “Wow, it’s amazing how well she sings for such a fat girl?”

  • SaintAndy

    You know, I read your blog frequently, and one of the things that attracted me to it is your feminist take on a lot of films, especially the ones that are problematic when it comes to their portrayal of women.

    It’s very late in my country right now, and yet, here I am, posting this comment, because AM I FED UP with people defending the indefensible. I am so sick and tired of people using the whole JOKE excuse to try to get away with perpetuating sexist, and racist, and ableist, and endless other -ist tropes.

    So you can preface your commentary on the whole Onion debacle by saying that you are feminist, but that doesn’t actually make things better, just worse.

    See, I don’t expect much from someone like Seth MacFarlane and his dude-bro woman-hating jokes, but to see a self-proclaimed feminist critic tying herself up into knots trying to explain why it’s ok that a 9 year old girl got called a c**t, and really, it’s fine, because SATIRE, and humour, and hey, why aren’t you laughing, you humourless woman..it’s just really beyond the pale.

    Some people -too many, actually – think it’s ok to call women horrible, degrading names, and one way to stop that is to stop creating loopholes where it’s socially acceptable to call people that. It’s NEVER OK to call people that…poor attempts at humour included.

    Seriously….a 9 year old girl…and your whole argument is basically the argument of every other offensive arsehole who says something offensive and then criticizes you for not having a sense of humour.

    Long story short: not cool, MaryAnn, not cool at all. Your article reads like yet another iteration of people trying to defend their privilege to say sexist, misogynistic jokes, with no consideration to the feelings and human dignity of others. You sound just like all the people “fighting” for their right to tell rape jokes in a room where 1 in 4 women was most likely a victim of one form of sexual assault.

  • Where did I tie myself in knots?

    Where did I say that it’s okay to call a nine-year-old girl a terrible name? Or that it’s okay to call any woman horrible, degrading names?

    I thought I had said the opposite of these things.

  • It wouldn’t be fun to have to explain, no. But unless she becomes a young woman who is so sheltered that it’s unhealthy, she is already going to know how badly our culture treats girls and women.

    Perhaps I should have said that I don’t see how she’s any more damaged by this one tweet than she is by our culture in the overall.

    How do *any* of us explain to girls why they’re treated so poorly? It’s not like this tweet is anomalous. It seems to me that the point of it is how ordinary this sort of thing is.

  • Bluejay

    Hmm. I didn’t think to see it like this. Still, if the Onion’s intent is what you say it is, I still think (as you do) that the joke failed — precisely because most people’s first (and likely only) reaction would be, as you say, “it’s just plain wrong to talk about a little girl like this.” To go from this reaction to a more general epiphany about the negative treatment of women in pop culture is, perhaps, a more subtle act of interpretation than most people casually reading Oscar tweets are inclined to perform. I think most would simply focus on the wrongness of the act itself; it’s as if a satirist tried to demonstrate the wrongness of slapping women in the face by… slapping a little girl in the face. It’s wrong even if intended as satire.

    I’m not sure what would have improved the joke. Would the point have been better made if they had called a mature male actor a cunt?

  • Bluejay

    Perhaps I should have said that I don’t see how she’s any more damaged
    by this one tweet than she is by our culture in the overall.

    That doesn’t make it okay to add to the damage. If someone’s buried in crap, it’s still not okay to add your own teaspoon of crap on the pile.

  • A tweet from the Onion isn’t random, or casual. But yes, context can be lost on Twitter.

    Better jokes might be putting men in the same situations women get put into. But context gets lost there, too. Call a man a “cunt,” and it’s automatically removed from the fact that women get called that all the time. Tell a “joke” about a man who starves himself to fit into his tux, and it has no context of a culture in which men are constantly judged on how much they weigh… and the joke also becomes about belittling him as a man because he acted in a silly womanish way, and *not* about belittling the notion of judging people of any gender based on their weight.

    There aren’t any easy answers here. Maybe the Onion going too far here will get people talking about these issues in a new way. Probably not, but we can hope.

  • Victoria

    You’re on the wrong side here. The Onion used a vulgarity to describe a 9-year old girl. Repeat: A. Nine. Year. Old. Even worse, the staff is now upset that the CEO is apologizing for the use of said vulgarity towards a 9-year old girl.

    That’s not satire. That’s not parody. That’s the worst sort of bullying. Maybe it’s time for The Onion to shut themselves down.

  • Victoria

    Wait, are you dissing MacFarlane for making fat jokes Adele while defending The Onion for referring to a young girl by vulgarity? Because M&O are all over entitled asses but MacFarlane at least attacked an adult.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Won’t be fun, you mean to say.

    How much damage is acceptable to make a point? And why should a 9 year old be made to bear that?

    The Onion called a 9 year old girl a cunt. How is that not anomalous? That’s the very exaggeration upon which they’re basing the joke. By definition it’s an anomaly.

    We have to explain to girls why they’re being treated poorly by society on purpose. It’s not actually that hard, because the evidence is all around. That’s completely different from explaining to a girl that she’s being treated badly to make a point about not treating girls badly, that’s she’s being offered up as a sacrificial cow by those who would call themselves her allies.

  • The Onion used a vulgarity in the most sarcastic sense, in which it could (I would have thought) only be seen to mean precisely the opposite.

    Do you honestly believe that there was any intent to suggest that she *actually is* a “cunt”? Do you honestly believe this was “bullying”? How was she bullied? What was she being bullied into doing, do you think?

    These are sincere questions.

  • SaintAndy

    Well, this is what you said:

    “I was, frankly, astonished that so many outspoken feminists whom I hold in high regard were so upset over this tweet. Yes, the tweet is savage. And it’s “funny” only in a bitter, brutal way that holds up our collective callousness to disdain and in despair. But any honest look at the Onion’s output over the years shows that the Onion writers are very hard on misogyny, particularly in the public realms of politics and pop culture. I find it hard to believe that that attitude would suddenly have done a 180.”

    You’re arguing that is is somewhat funny, in a brutal sort of way. You’re doing an inventory of all the women present there who could have been used as a set up for this “joke” and why it wouldn’t have worked. That, for me, is bending over backwards to explain why it was perfectly OK, and RADICAL, and totally in the service of feminists everywhere, that they decided to make a 9 year old girl the butt of this joke. You’re basically saying OMG the Onion totally picked the right option in order to highlight the poor treatment of women…blah blah blah..you lost me. I think you can teach others about feminism, and equality, and social justice, without calling a 9 year old girl a c**nt.

    You seem to believe that her cuteness, her vitality, her personality is somehow going to protect her from people trying to argue that she is that horrible word, but that happens all the time with girls of colour, especially poor ones. Do you have any idea how many look on non-white little girls and see them as non-human?

    I can’t be bothered to try to do proper html at this hour, but this article in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html?_r=1& pretty much victim blames an 11 year old black girl for her assault…and this is just one of the many cases. (not to mention one of the defense attorneys later on argued that the girl was a spider luring men into her web)

    So, seriously, if you want to express feigned or real confusion over why so many feminists (and not only) were horrified by this incident, I guess that’s your prerogative. That doesn’t mean it’s ok.
    Once again, using certain words contributes to the hostile climate so many of us have to live in, and many people – too many – don’t realize you are making a joke. To them, it just sounds like you are confirming their worldview.

    When it’s ok to call someone the C-word, or the N-word, or one of the other myriad offensive words that are meant to remind us how we are less than, how we don’t conform to the bullshit standard of society? NEVER, that’s when.

  • Danielm80

    MacFarlane’s actual comment was, “Rex Reed will be out here to review Adele’s performance of ‘Skyfall.'” It’s possible to interpret it as a joke at Adele’s expense, especially since this is Seth MacFarlane, but the joke is ambiguous enough that it could just be a slam against Rex Reed. (That is, Reed is so out of touch that when everyone else is thinking, “What an amazing performance,” he’s thinking, “Look at the fat girl.”) I prefer to be generous, if only because the joke is funnier that way.

  • SaintAndy

    Ok, one last attempt to connect. How would you feel if you
    were the mother of this girl, or other close relative, and you’re maybe watching the ceremony, all proud that someone that young, and related to you, and BLACK (this is still such a rarity it totally flies in the face of all those people who say we leave in a post-racial society or whatever) is so talented, and she also got recognition at the Oscars (in spite of being ..you know..not white) and then,.,.,,

    Then you read or hear about this stupid tweet?

    How the hell do you think it feels when you, as an adult, probably faced similar treatment (I don’t think there isn’t a woman alive on this planet who wasn’t called that at least once in her life) and then, on this great night for your daughter, or niece, THIS happens?

    Do you think you will find it funny, or efficient satire, or do you think you’ll have tears of rage burning on your face?

    Seriously, sometimes you get caught up in these intellectual speculations, and you fail really hard at empathy.

  • As I just posted above in reponse to someone else: Do you *honestly* believe the intent here was to say that a nine-year-old girl is *actually* a “cunt” (whatever that’s supposed to mean, though clearly it is generally taken to be something horrible)? Or is there any possibility that this was meant sarcastically, to mean precisely the opposite?

    Isn’t it possible to explain, even to a nine-year-old, that it was meant in an opposite way, a way of pointing out how very nice everyone thinks she is by being ridiculous and saying the thing that’s furthest from nice? Kids get sarcasm. And then all the sexism stuff can be saved for when she’s older.

  • I was saying that I don’t necessarily think it does add to the damage.

  • Yes, I’m dissing MacFarlane for making a fat joke that had no point except to say that Adele is fat.

    I’m not defending the Onion for referring to a young girl by a vulgarity. As I’ve said before, it’s pretty clear to me that the girl was not the butt of that joke, and that the Onion was not *actually* saying she’s a “cunt.”

    You’re free to disagree with me, of course, but I don’t think I’m being hypocritical.

  • SaintAndy

    You know, there’s a technique a lot of people who pretend to be on the side of equality and feminism, etc. use when they want to come across as honest interlocutors. It’s called JAQ-ing: Just Asking Questions. It’s dishonest, and if you spend some time on feminist sites, you can pretty much spot it a mile away.

    I noticed you tend to do this a lot: ask for questions and clarifications, while not really giving much of an answer yourself. I am not saying you are JAQ-ing right now, just that it’s uncomfortably similar to it.

    How about you ask yourself why you are so hellbent on defending this? Why you find it so difficult to acknowledge it was wrong, and no amount of pseudo-justifications is going to make it ok?

    I’m going to say it again: these words add to the general hostile climate. Many people don’t see them as satire, but as confirmation of their worldview. You are failing at feminism, and humanity if you think calling a 9 year old that word is the best way to teach people about equality.

    If you accept the above paragraph as true, how the hell can you continue to try to justify it? ‘Cause that’s some serious cognitive dissonance right there.

  • Annoyedteen

    No, I don’t believe the Onion implied that the girl was actually a c**t,but name calling is name calling. Furthermore, it could have been a brutal tasteless joke if it were a woman , not a child. The fact that they called a 9 year old child a cunt makes it inappropriate and totally out of line. Do you have any grandchildren?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Do you *honestly* believe the intent here was to say that a nine-year-old girl is *actually* a “cunt”

    Of course not. But intent, as they say, is not magic. “I meant it as a joke,” is not cover for saying something reprehensible. Look, I agree with you, to a point: the problem with this joke is not that it’s “anti-feminist”. The problem with the joke is that it is abusive to exactly the person you think The Onion means to protect from abuse.

    Then again,what if the intent had nothing to do with feminism and misogyny. What if whoever wrote that tweet was trying to be ironic about how adorable Wallis is, but, for whatever asshat reason, chose to do so in the most vulger way possible. I do hope that whoever it was at least had a higher ideal than that, but just failed miserably.

    Kids get sarcasm.

    I say this to you as a parent and a professional educator: no, they don’t. Especially not about themselves. Just because they use sarcasm, doesn’t mean they get sarcasm. To a kid, and well through adolescence, these things are personal. If Wallis grows to be a particularly mature, intelligent, and self-aware 13-year-old, she might be able to process this as an attack on someone other than herself. Maybe. More likely, 18 to 20 years old, assuming in the interim this doesn’t become yet another load of shit she, as a young black woman, is made to take from society.

  • Bluejay

    Still not okay. To go on with the metaphor: the person buried under the ton of crap might not ever feel the extra added teaspoon of crap. It’s still wrong to add it, even if the point of the act is to show how horrible it is to do so.

  • You’re not saying she’s JAQ-ing right now… you’re just asking questions.

  • The joke made a brilliant point. And one that would’ve landed without all this uproar if only they hadn’t used “cunt.” “Asshole” would’ve worked perfectly.

  • Dawn

    Thank you for a well thoughtout opinion. I laughed when I read the tweet and thought the onion had nailed it! But then again, I read the onion regularly. To read the onion is to not take anything they say as truth, so I’m baffled at how so many “believe this” and totally missed what they were shooting for.

  • I’d check to see what other things the publication in question has produced because making blind leaps is foolish, but that’s just me, because I’m sensible.

  • how did you feel about the MacFarlane Wallis joke? Because you could argue that it was doing the same thing–using the idea of Hollywood’s obsession with youth to poke fun at George Clooney.

    In both cases, however, they did so through the specific figure of an actual 9-year-old girl.

    I get your argument, I guess I just don’t think it’s worth putting a child in the crosshairs for the sake of good satire. The biggest disappointment to me, too, is that this scandal has completely drawn focus from the actual work–Wallis was great in Beasts of the Southern Wild, but now she’s been reduced to a figure of satire for one side and a figure of moral outrage for the other.

    I know it’s a tweet, and there’s not a hell of a lot of room to hedge your bets, but rather than satirizing specifically celebrity culture, which demonizes young female stars for whatever arbitrary reason, I wish there was some way to acknowledge the work at the same time. Maybe instead of calling her a cunt, make a comparison to DDL, who is ever only seen as “that method actor”–still about the work–“Wallis refuses to drop character and attacks Kevin Costner for melting the polar ice caps.”

    I guess I just think there’s a better way to satirize celebrity culture’s focus on actress’ behavior over their work than by calling a nine-year-old child a cunt.

  • Bluejay

    I say this to you as a parent and a professional educator: no, they don’t. Especially not about themselves. Just because they use sarcasm, doesn’t mean they get sarcasm. To a kid, and well through adolescence, these things are personal.

    I say this as a parent: THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.

    And the hurt feelings of a child are NOT an acceptable price to pay in order to make a satirical point.

  • I’m from England where “cunt” is not used as a gendered insult as such, but just to refer to anyone severely unpleasant. Obviously elsewhere it’s a bigger deal, but then so is using “fanny”, which has different connotations over here. I’ve no problem with calling someone a cunt if I feel they’ve warranted being a cunt.

    The joke is obvious to me in that sense – Quvenzhané is clearly NOT a horrible person. I didn’t find it funny because it’s frustratingly vague. The difference between that Tweet and the others is that there’s no text or article backing it up elsewhere, it’s just…there, and looks needlessly spiteful.

  • Aren’t you JAQ-ing yourself?

  • possum

    As an adult I can see your point and realize intellectually that perhaps yes the child was used as part of a bigger point that many regular people might miss. But, non-intellectually, as part of a joke this nine year old child should just learn to suck it up and take this “joke” because “hey, these oh-so-hip satirists are making a point?”

  • Kallen

    Wow, that’s a lot of words spilled with barely a mention of race. Thanks for that token mention for the POCs though.

  • Please Explain

    Apparently it is okay for The Onion to call a 9 year old girl a c-unt because she happens to be carrying a puppy purse and cheers when her name is called out as an Oscar nominee; and it is okay for Bill Maher to call Sarah Palin a c-unt simply because she is Sarah Palin. But it is apparently not okay for Rush Limbaugh, also a user of satire and humor (check out the parody songs he plays on his program that can be found on Youtube if you want proof) to call Sandra Fluke a “slut”. Does that about sum it up?

  • sf

    the 9 year old isn’t the butt of the joke. That is an obvious misreading

  • sf

    “name calling is name calling”. Perhaps if you’re blind to context.

  • James Parr

    Why are people so afraid of a word? If you want to tame it down, why not just say jerk or doodoo head? The word is the joke.

  • Brian

    There’s a saying in Jazz: “Too hip for the room.” So, yes the joke failed, but only because it was over the heads of a large percentage of the audience. My reaction to the tweet was exactly the same as MaryAnn’s, and i thought it was of a theme with everything else they tweeted that night. I’m about as politically liberal as a person can be, but the PC Police who often hail from my side of the aisle are really starting to get up my sleeve. As far as the question of being offended, well, that’s the Onion’s job as I see it. They’ve offended me in the past, and I hope they continue to do so in the future. It’s a price I’m willing to pay for brilliant satire.

  • I think he was dissing Reed, but of course in the meantime he is saying Adele is fat.



  • You can repeat it all you want and it still doesn’t take into account the context of the tweet. If you want to be angry at something, go ahead but The Onion is not just some internet troll that spews misogyny all over the place for the sake of being horrible.

  • Elaine

    The Rex Reed comment is probably because he put down Melissa McCarthy for being fat in a very public way. It does link Adele with Melissa (over weight female performers), but it also shows up Reed as an ass. I took it as a knock against Rex Reed myself.

    I was okay with The Onion tweet, but I’m also okay with people not being okay with The Onion tweet. When children are involved in adult jokes, it does make things more double-edged and morally sticky. There’s no way to know if this girl will ever read or know about this tweet, or care about it. But we do know about it, so our reactions are on us. Both the song about “boobies” and “losers” made me more uncomfortable than the Onion tweet, maybe because a tweet is short and done with, and you’re not sitting their watching a musical performance and going hmmmmmm at your television. I’m sure the heh-heh boobies response to a to a lot Oscar-winning, raw performances from women was meant to be a double-edged sword and one edge was meant for boys and men who see those performances and women that way. On the other hand, I can’t say I enjoyed the joke as a female viewer myself. Captain Kirk was brought out to point out that it was inappropriate to the audience, yet there it all was anyway. I actually get the joke they were going for, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoyed that joke just the same. And I had a similar reaction to the song about the Oscar losers at the end, where I got the joke but couldn’t say that I actually liked the joke, or that it was appropriate.

    It’s possible to see a joke for what it is and still not like it, is what I’m saying. And maybe ambivalent jokes are meant to strike an ambivalent reaction, too. Not a real laugh, but a hmmmm, is this actually funny, reaction.

  • As noted in the article, if the remark was aimed at a full grown woman, it would have been just sad and normal because this kind of discourse is quite common.

  • She is not defending the joke. She is defending the Onion for being on the side of feminism and decency and using humor to highlight some terrible things from online discussions. This joke didn’t work and the problem with jokes that don’t work is that they can just offend people. But there’s a world of difference between The Onion and shows like Two Broke Girls that just pander to the racism and sexism of their audience.

  • Sometimes in humor, you have to go all out and risk the hate.

  • You lose for simply bringing up Rush Limbaugh.

  • Exactly what you said.

  • We shouldn’t be calling Sarah Palin a cunt. Even if she is a horrible person whose success was very scary, that kind of gendered insult is pathetic.

  • My take on it

    I think it’s different because Rush and Bill Maher were not being satirical with the slut and c*nt comment. The onion was being satirical. I’m not sure where I stand on whether or not the Onion comment was acceptable, but it’s clear to me that it was satirical. If anything, it’s satire on comments like the Bill Maher and Rush comments you point out in the first place… I believe that’s the joke.

  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    Kristen Stewart, who presented last night, was derided all over the Web
    during the broadcast for being insufficiently appreciative of the
    celebrity that has been granted her, as if it’s a boon she didn’t earn,
    and insufficiently enthusiastic about her appearance at the Oscars.
    (Contrast this with the snide comments directed at Joaquin Phoenix and
    Tommy Lee Jones and Robert DeNiro, for instance, which focused on their
    specific behavior at that precise moment — he wouldn’t smile; he
    looked miserable; he thinks this is bullshit — without ever implying
    that they didn’t deserve to be there. In fact, the men garner the
    opposite reaction, in general; the guys see the Oscars as beneath them,
    and isn’t that awesome cuz it’s true LOL Oscars suck. The gals see the
    Oscars as beneath them, and how dare the uppity bitches not acknowledge
    how the fuck lucky they are to be there.)

    I don’t disagree with most of the contents of this post; however, there is more than a difference in gender in those being compared here. Phoenix, Jones and DeNiro each have a significant number of awards or nominations under their belt; the same isn’t true of Stewart. I imagine if the camera had caught a similar expression on the face of Meryl Streep, reaction would have been more along the lines that the men’s expressions received than Stewart’s.

  • Please Explain

    You lose for apparently being unable to grasp that it’s the buzzwords and not who says them.

  • LaSargenta


  • David Lockhart

    You’ve got the wrong end of this, thinking it’s about their intent. All the details are lined up in the Onion’s favor, but it comes down to fundamental principles. “The Onion did not call Wallis a cunt” except for where it LITERALLY did. Put analysis and ideology aside. Even though the point being made is a good one, do you think she’d appreciate being used to make it in that way? Would you? I’d be goddamn infuriated if I was in her place.

    You keep asking people if they really think the Onion intended to say “this little girl is a cunt.” Fuuucking obviously they didn’t. But to make a point, they put those words in that order.

  • My take on it


  • possum

    Totally seconded.

  • absolutely. it’s not targeting q at all. it’s absurdist. it gets a laugh because no one in their right mind (even not in their right mind) could conceive of actually saying such a thing. the people that are offended simply don’t understand the nature/construction of the joke. and that “poor taste” and “shockingly offensive” are integral components to the joke. if it were any less outrageous, it could conceivably be genuinely offensive because it’s not clear that we’re going for satire.

    however, inasmuch as her PEERS can be exposed to the joke and feel misguidedly emboldened by it to repeat it as a taunt – and let’s face it, this is probably going to happen now – it was ultimately a bad call. the problem is not with her or adults… but mean, bullying kids.

  • I noticed that you experimented with switching out other actresses names’ for Wallis’ to demonstrate that it wouldn’t be satire because many of those actresses ARE subjected to exactly that kind of treatment, and I agree that was most likely the Onion’s intent: to point out the ruthless, misogynistic treatment of our (particularly young, female) celebrities.

    However, you didn’t do a similar switch for the word “cunt,” which I think is the part that’s really getting people (myself included) up in arms. “Cunt” is just so full of sexualization that in turn ties into the racially-charged aspects of this conversation. It’s more than just tone-deafness as you call it that makes this tweet a problem. The Onion was attempting to satirize misogyny but was utterly blind to intersectionality (of race, age, gender) and ended up participating in multiple systems of oppression instead of calling out a single one.

    What would this tweet have looked like if they’d called Wallis some other name to make that point? We’ll never know now, but they chose “cunt.” For a nine year old. For a nine year old girl. For a nine year old black girl. All of those things matter, and The Onion’s apology was owed.

  • Also, the comments on The Onion’s Facebook apology demonstrate to me clearer than anything else just how problematic this tweet was. There are so many (mostly male, mostly white) commenters that are outraged that The Onion apologized. They see even that small shred of humanity as a threat to their privilege, which was reinforced when a major media source (even a satirical one) put a little black girl in her place through derogatory language.

  • Please cite any historically racist implication of the word cunt.

  • Please Explain

    So what you’re saying is when Limbaugh skewers someone with humor, as in the parody song “Walking in a Liberal Wonderland” it isn’t satire or humor. Thanks for completely missing the point.

    The words matter. Context is important, but there is no proper context to be referring to a 9 year old girl as a c-nt, even if you try to hide behind a claim that it is satire.

  • “Cunt” is just so full of sexualization that in turn ties into the racially-charged aspects of this conversation.

    How? I’m not even debating you here. Just asking for an explanation to something I don’t see.

  • trina

    There are several comments here that are veering a little close to intellectual snobbery, saying most people just didn’t “get” the joke and that is where the outrage is coming from. It seems most people did understand the point behind it. I most certainly did, and I fully agree with the spirit of what they were trying to say. It really wasn’t all the hard to understand. However, the fact remains that they appropriated (and exploited) a nine year old child to make a statement.

  • The implication is that “cunt” is sexualized (in a way,say, “bitch” isn’t), and that black women are historically sexualized in our culture. I can cite plenty of instances of that.

  • “Cunt” is a sexualized word. It refers to a vagina, for one thing, and it has the implication of being “dirty” in a sexual sense. The Oxford English Dictionary, for instance, cites the term “cunt-struck” to mean “sexually infatuated” and many of the cited literary uses of the term suggest a woman who is luring a man with her “cunt,” or sexual prowess.

    Black women are sexualized in our culture in places like the trope of the jezebel or the Hottentot Venus, not to mention the way that black women’s bodies were sexually violated during slavery (and continue to be disproportionately sexually violated in our current society).

    The use of the word “cunt” is tied into sexualization, and the fact that it was applied to a nine-year-old black girl (and the only person of color nominated for either best actress or best supporting actress, for that matter) makes this an intersectional issue between gender, race, and age.

  • cal

    A surprising – no, wait, I wasn’t really surprised – number of people (men) took that tweet at face value, and heartily agreed with it, on the comments section of the NPR post about the incident. I doubt the Onion changed too many minds with the satire, but it would be nice if it did.

  • don’t be so emotional

    that’s not what he’s saying at all

  • Loaf de Norton

    Why don’t you view MacFarlane’s boob song similarly? Isn’t it possible that it was just as subversive as the Wallis tweet, but you didn’t get it?

  • Prankster36

    YES. THANK YOU. This to me is the crucial point–the fact that the satirical point, regardless of how valid it is, didn’t actually require them to drag a 9-year-old girl into it. And she’s probably young enough that arguments about irony and satire are probably going to mean precisely squat to her.

  • Prankster36

    Yep. There’s far too much overcooked “Oh but SATIRE!” rationalization going on around this. I understand and agree with the Onion’s point; the practical reality, however, had them saying something vile to a small girl who almost certainly is not going to be mature enough to process what’s going on here.

    Dave Chappelle allegedly quit his sketch comedy show because he was working on an anti-racist sketch when he realized that the sketch was appealing to racists who didn’t actually get the irony. This is a similar situation–regardless of intent, it’s actually creating precisely the effect it’s meaning to satirize. And regardless of how fucked up our society may be, it’s not as bluntly traumatizing as just flat-out calling a little girl a nasty name. There’s a reasonable argument to be made about over-sheltering kids, but there’s also a reason we don’t actually expose them to extreme sex and violence and whatnot until they’ve learned the coping skills to process it properly.

  • Hash

    You don’t think your 13 year old understands sarcasm?

  • Hash

    A wise man once told me that when storytelling or making jokes, always “put 10 on 20”, meaning if 3 guys in a boat is funny, 6 guys in the same boat is funnier. If the fish was a foot it was a yard. In for a penny, in for a pound. The Onion went in for a pound.

  • reellives

    Thanks for another perspective. I think your analysis lacks historical context with regard to white skin privilege and racism. Please consider some of the salient points brought to the fore in this article:


    Thanks for crediting my screen capture – reellives.

  • SMP

    So calling a nine-year-old girl a body part is okay because it’s satire? Are you serious?

  • We can say ‘cunt’, we are adults. The fact you can’t is likened to the boy who can’t buy condoms because he is too embarrassed to to ask. If you can’t even say the word you are not ready to discuss is rationally.

  • The Onion also LITERALLY said that “Everyone else seems afraid to say it.” If you take the second part of that tweet at utter face value, you have to take the first half the same way.

    So: Do you honestly think that everyone has been afraid to say this?

  • It’s not okay for Bill Maher to call Sarah Palin (or anyone else) a cunt. Please point out where I said that.

    Please also point out where I said it’s okay for the Onion to call anyone a cunt.

  • I don’t think this is about race.

    You are free to disagree, of course.

  • MacFarlane’s joke is more problematic because it was told right in her presence — as a tweet from an adult satire site is not — but also because of the MacFarlane context. He is relentlessly bigoted toward anyone not straight, white, and male. The Onion is not… and is, in fact, constantly mocking the likes of MacFarlane.

  • Grandchildren? Christ, no. How old do you think I am?

    I don’t have children, either. I don’t see what that has to do with this.

  • For the 100th time, the Onion did not call anyone a cunt. Not really. If you believe that, you also need to believe that everyone has seemed to afraid to say this. Because that was in the tweet, too.

  • I think you can teach others about feminism, and equality, and social justice, without calling a 9 year old girl a c**nt.

    So do I.

  • One last attempt to get you to understand my perspective here.

    *I* have been called a cunt. And I’ve been the target of plenty of other gendered hatred. Including when I was a child.

    I know from tears of rage. And lifelong self-esteem issues.

    I still stand by what the Onion was attempting. They didn’t succeed — clearly. But there wasn’t malicious intent behind it.

  • In what way could the Onion writer have seen this as an attack on a child? The tweet appeared in the feed of an adult satire site. It wasn’t texted to Wallis. It wasn’t said to her face. It wasn’t sent in an email or a letter.

    How were her feelings intended to be hurt by this?

  • I said nothing like “a child should suck it up.” Why would she be hearing about this?

    Sure, *now* that everyone has made a big deal out of it, she may well hear about this. But that tweet was not sent to her and in no way directed to her in some way intended for her to see. It’s no more reasonable to have suspected that she would see this than that a child would see something in, say, a magazine nowhere near her demographic.

  • I guess it’s possible. But given MacFarlane’s context — he’s always relentlessly sexist and racist — it seems unlikely to me. Any argument that he was being subversive would have to take his other work into account. As I did with the Onion.

  • Your link isn’t working. :-(

    But yes, I’m aware of my white privilege. I’m aware that as bad as things are for white girls and white women, they’re even worse for black girls and black women. As I referenced in my post.

  • Perhaps one reason the joke fails is because people are all-too-painfully aware that it won’t be considered preposterous by as many people as it should. Perhaps it never would, even if society comes to a point of de-sexualizing females, especially young females including little black girls, because even little girls can be vicious. Did somebody forget this? Even little girls can say this type of thing to each other. A 9-year-old is often right in the thick of such snarling from their very own peers.

  • Ellie

    I agree with you, Dr. Rocketscience. I get the point The Onion was trying to make and I understand the points this post is making, but kids her age should be off limits for this kind of exercise.

  • It would have been ideal if they’d called MacFarlane a cunt.

  • LaSargenta

    From where I sit, the reason that the other satirical comments are fine and this one isn’t is that the comments about Bigelow and whats-his-name are because these relate to things that they do, or images they are are actively (as adults, presumably with some agency in how they put themselves and their work before the public) and the tweet about Quvenzhane is using her as a placeholder — and she is not in on the joke, never made a joke about herself that is known about, and is — on top of everything — not in a position of agency.

    In other words, you only pick on people (and, yes, using them in satire is a kind of picking-on, especially with children) who are in a position of strength.

  • Bluejay

    As has been argued repeatedly in this thread, intention has nothing to do with it. The act itself is wrong. You shouldn’t call a nine-year-old girl a cunt even if your point is that we shouldn’t call women cunts.

    And come on: we’re all Internet-savvy here, we know that things said on the e-networks have a long shelf-life, we know they get around. You really think a vicious insult stated publicly for the world to see won’t eventually get around to the person named in the insult?

    I mean, even the Onion recognized it went too far, and apologized. There should be ways of skewering and satirizing a misogynistic culture without committing acts of misogyny yourself.

  • LaSargenta

    Perhaps in the tweeter’s initial thought, this wasn’t about race, but in the context of sexualization of black or mixed race girls even more than white girls in our culture, practically from birth, someone should have had second and third thoughts before hitting send. The fact that didn’t happen, and that statement got out for all of us to look at says volumes.

  • Bluejay

    In other words, you only pick on people (and, yes, using them in satire is a kind of picking-on, especially with children) who are in a position of strength.

    Yes, this. Or as Alyssa Rosenberg puts it, “courageous humor punches up, rather than down.” The problem with the tweet is that, at best, it wasn’t at all clear who it was punching at, and at worst, it could be seen as punching down.

  • Bluejay

    There’s a saying in Jazz: “Too hip for the room.” So, yes the joke
    failed, but only because it was over the heads of a large percentage of
    the audience.

    Thanks for reminding me of the smug self-regarding elitism of many (not all) in the jazz community. ;-)

    The joke failed because the audience didn’t get it. There’s no “only” because. That’s why jokes fail.

    Here’s a valuable lesson I’ve learned as a former musical performer (and that I continue to learn as an occasional blogger and struggling writer):

    The audience owes me absolutely nothing.

    If I don’t connect with my audience, it’s not because the audience failed to do its job. It’s because I’ve failed to do mine.

  • KJ

    Of course you don’t, you’re white!

  • LaSargenta

    Not sure that saying is from jazz. I thought it originated with Lord Buckley…who was first a humorist. So, I’ve always associated it with comics.

  • Most women actors don’t get to the level of DeNiro, Jones, and Phoenix, though. The roles aren’t there for them. Yes, Meryl Streep… but that’s about it (at least among the faces prominent at the Oscars this year — but it’s not much better if you widen the field, either).

    And none of the younger male actors who are age-peers with Stewart or Lawrence come in for the same treatment.

  • Thanks. It’s true I’ve made it perfectly plain over the years here that I am unable to see anything except through the narrow lens of my own perspective.

  • caiosigma

    It is not the same thing whatsoever. The Onion is solely a satire website. MacFarlane doesn’t usually do satire.

  • Smart reading. But again, not worth it. You don’t think a nine year old girl won’t google her own name? Maybe you’re unaware of how young kids are doing that these days, but they are. Most of my younger cousins who are her age and younger are on social media sites that have age limits set up. Should their parents be policing this better? Sure. Do most parents? Nope.

    This joke, no matter how much you’d like to argue otherwise, was not told in a vacuum. Was it funny in a savage way? I think so. But certainly not enough to be worth defending.

  • oreo

    I agree with the people who argue that a little girl should be off-limits with this kind of humor, even if it’s trying to make a bigger point about Hollywood, society, etc. Aside from the obvious reasons, I fear that this is just another attempt to “shock” people by going to far, and it will open the door for even worse – and more damaging – humor down the road. To suggest that the girl wouldn’t have seen it is preposterous. In this age of social media, she would have found out sooner or later, even if it’s a year or three down the road. And you can bet people will use it to poke fun of her for years.

  • Leo Gonzalez

    clap clap to the Author. Congrats!

  • Dex Lamphart

    “He is relentlessly bigoted toward anyone not straight, white, and male.” Far be it from me to defend McFarlane, but he’s an equal opportunity offender. For example, look at the main characters in two of his shows (Family Guy & American Dad). The two white, straight fathers are presented as complete buffoons. And he has repeatedly spoken out about gay rights in a variety of public forums. So no, that’s not accurate.

  • Tired

    Aggghhhhhhh MaryAnn you’ve found a brick wall and now you’re making your head, leave it you aren’t going to get through. So many commentators saying ‘I get it but you shouldn’t insult a child like that) you don’t get it and you have no intention of getting judging by your relentless posting whilst not modifying your opinion one mm.

  • vergueishon

    Perhaps the intersection of race, childhood and femininity was precisely the point of that tweet. Viewed in that light, any response that favors one or more of those over any others should reasonably reflect our society’s (and the respondent’s) biases along those axes.

  • ThreeOranges

    If the post had simply been “‘Quvenzhané Wallis’ is a cunt,” the critics would have a point. That seems to be the sentiment, and the non-existent Tweet they’re responding to.

    But there’s more to it. Long story short: The Tweet is voiced an unreliable narrator. It’s like a piece of flash fiction, where a lonely misogynist reaches out and gets justifiably slapped down. The false consensus of “Everyone else seems to afraid to say it” creates the character … the “kind of” before the strongest misogynist epithet in our vocabulary communicates it’s weak-mindedness … and the “right?” invites the response from the reader, which is, of course, “NO!”

    At least, that’s what a critical reader would get out of it. The only person who called the girl a cunt is a fictional construct.

    Confusion arises in the moving target of The Onion’s voice from Tweet to Tweet, article to article. They vary voice and satiric intent so rapidly, that it can be tough to keep up.

    Which all feeds into what you’ve said above in this very good article.

  • dwa

    “I still stand behind what the onion was attempting. They didn’t succeed clearly, but their wasn’t malicious intent behind it.”

    As has been stated before, MAJ, your reliance on intent as an excuse in this act is a shortsighted view that does not consider the full implications of power and self determination

    So then, what is …wrong…about calling a woman, a child, or for that matter a man a cunt. It’s wrong because that word and it’s usage reduces a woman or individual to something less than a person. It reduces her/him to nothing more than a sexual object to be used for another’s own purposes or pleasure with no thought to that person’s right to their own self determination if they want to participate in the sexual act or be used in that manner.

    Fundamentally, it’s the usage of another person, without or against their right of self determination/consent of whether or not to participate in the act to further your own purposes..whether it be sexual pleasure or other benefit that you derive by using them. (Gramatically bad sentence but I’m too tired to fix it) At it’s heart you are using them for your pleasure/purpose.

    The Onion used a very vile and vulgar word to describe another person..a child..to further their own purpose. It makes no difference what their intent was.,.they used another person in a vulgar way to further their own purpose. The only possible justification they have is that they obtained her permission to use her in this way prior to posting their comment..a circumstance I highly doubt occurred.

    What the Onion did is wrong and intent is no excuse for it. Power and use of others for your own purposes is what is at the heart of the matter for everything from rape to what the onion did. Your wilingness to excuse this due to the idea of “intent” does not help your credibility. (You obviously still have a lot of credibility in this arena but your willingness to look past something like this does make me think twice when you hold so tightly to fundamental standards when it comes to discussions like those in Scott Pilgrim and…that recent movie where the writer created a woman in his novel and interacted with her..can’t remember the name… How can you hold so tightly and rigidly to arguably justafiable fundamental standards in those discussions and then allow such a gross degradation and using of a woman for another’s purpose .a child in this case..in such a vile manner here? Fundamentally, it makes no logical sense.

  • Bluejay
  • Nzinga

    But they DIDN’T have to explain it to a lot of people. And a lot of people are going to be outraged no matter what you do. So, I don’t think they failed just because you had to explain their joke to the perpetually outraged. Actually, let me back up a moment. You are correct when you say others have every right to feel offended even when I don’t. So, I will say, they have a valid right to their outrage, but the joke still worked for the rest of us.

  • Not saying my age but I will say I’m old enough to have voted for Carter the second time. I will proudly say that I have Never used the word against any female, I guess because I’ve never hated another female that much to use it.

    That joke was like a person you see horribly dressed and you think to yourself, they should have never left house.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    As someone here said, they put those words in that order. They’re responsible for being cognizant of all the baggage entailed, including: the sexualization children, in general, and black girls in America, in particular; the unintended effects those words would have on the young black girl in question.

    The editorial staff of The Onion gets this. They didn’t apologize for the intended message of the joke. They apologized for inappropriately involving Wallis in the message. It’s not the intent of the joke that’s problematic, it’s the structure.

    Reading through these comments, just about everyone here accepts your reasoning on what the tweet was intended to satirize. The pushback you’re getting is from people saying that even so, using Wallis was abusive and wrong.

    If you believe that, you also need to believe that everyone has seemed to afraid to say this.

    “The acceleration of gravity is 9.8 m/s/s, because that is the value which gives the gravity fairies the greatest sexual satisfaction.” Are you obligated to accept the second half of that statement, simply because you accept the first?

  • I am Defending the Onions writer and MaryAnn because of 2 points.

    1) It is a satirical News Website that made a joke. It clearly hadn’t had the intention to offend her, and lets face it, when she grows up and becomes a even more talent Diva Actress, people will call her a Cunt for real.

    2) Desensitizing the youths of America is major problem with this generation of people. You may think that your little angel wouldn’t say those words but 90% of the time they do right behind your back. If you have to explain to your child about what the Tweet meant then you should ask yourself one question… What the hell is your child doing on Twitter, a social media website at such a young age.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    How well do you know my kid?

    Here’s a better question: how much do you know about educational psychology? Because “don’t use sarcasm on pre-and early-adolescents” is a pretty big bullet point in that field. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that they can take sarcasm by the glee with which they dish it out. But they can’t. it’s a question of emotional maturity and cognitive development.

  • SaintAndy

    You’re white, so you don’t actually get to determine what is or isn’t about race. You are of course entitled to your opinion, but it doesn’t carry anywhere as much weight as you seem to think it does.

    People who are minorities of any sort, or ostracised for deviating from the perceived social “norm” are the ones who are the best qualified – because of their lived experiences – to say if something is or isn’t about race.

    Your argument is basically the same as a dude saying he doesn’t see the offense in being called a cunt, because he doesn’t feel insulted.

    (By the way, you should think WHY your article has attracted commenters who proclaim that cunt is perfectly ok in the UK so why are we all getting up in arms about it, or that another insult is also perfectly ok from their point of view)

    Long story short: your privilege is showing, and this is not the first time you have shown a blind spot when it comes to matters of race and racism – you did, after all, give The Help a positive review, and that film is a racist nightmare.

  • Sol O.

    Thanks for this Maryann – I am a man who “got” the “joke” on a gut level but you’ve helped me intellectualize it. Before reading your article I made several points similar to what you made with a couple of women friends, and the “debate” turned so sour that I was accused of “supporting the bullying of a little girl” and was declared unfit to raise a daughter (theoretically). In defending myself against such indictments it frustrated one to the point that she apparently no longer wants to be my friend. Sad that so many people are so outraged over the literal content of that Tweet that they are failing to see what they should truly be outraged about. That what could have been an excellent starting point for a serious debate about an issue that many people so incorrectly declare dead (much like racism) has gotten bogged down by people’s inability to read between the lines.

  • SaintAndy

    If you believe that, why are you still defending what The Onion did? Like many other commenters here pointed out, they did put those words in that order, satire or no satire. People with no knowledge of the affair, who don’t have a clue what The Onion is are going to nod in agreement, and start the whole “Black bitches …etc” argument.

    Besides, you can argue all you like about the intention of The Onion or how their past behaviour is so stellar. The person who actually wrote the tweet, while representing The Onion, may have had less positive intentions. What kind of a person thinks it’s OK to call a 9 year old girl a cunt???
    That’s the gist of it…that’s it’s never OK and they shouldn’t have done it , and no amount of saying Satire!, and We did it for the feminists!, or Freedom of speech! or You are not getting it! is going to excuse that.

  • Clementine

    Come on, MaryAnn, nine year olds can Google themselves, just like the rest of us. And The Onion staff aren’t stupid and it’s not a minor website, it’s the biggest goddamn satire site on the web, with over four and a half million Twitter followers – they can’t possibly have been so stupid as to think this wouldn’t get widespread attention. I honestly can’t believe that you’re pulling the “if you weren’t making this a big deal it wouldn’t be one” card here. I get what they were trying to do, but they still brought an unconsenting child into their joke, and I really doubt she’s going to be able to say “oh, well, they were clearly making a critique of misogynistic tropes about celebrities, and therefore I am not the butt of it” if/when she does hear about it. She’s just going to know someone called her a cunt on the internet for all the world to see, and now people are talking about that instead of her talent or her Oscar nomination or her upcoming projects. It doesn’t matter what they were trying to do – whatever their point may have been, it’s completely lost now, and would’ve been lost on those it satirised anyway.

    And you’re wrong on the whole “she’s an adorable nine year old who no one would REALLY say this about a child ergo satire” argument is just factually incorrect – I’ve seen people say similar things about Suri Cruise, Zahara Jolie-Pitt and Willow Smith (on allegedly pro-feminist gossip boards, no less – no one calls them cunts, because the board would stand up against the use of the word, but I’ve certainly seen bitch and bitchface) with no satire intended at all, so I imagine that what people say on 4chan or Reddit must be a thousand times worse. Louis Bullock can glare at the paparazzi and he’s just adorable, but if Suri Cruise is glaring at them in clear distress, it’s because she’s a brat with bitchface. It’s like the creationist Poes – there’s really nothing you can post in satire of misogyny because there will always be someone who’ll really say exactly that thing and mean every word. Those boards – and probably Reddits and whatever else – are not high profile, and therefore Suri/Zahara/Willow would have to go looking for the comments, but they’d still be able to find them within a few clicks. So no, it’s not “clearly outrageous”. People are saying exactly that sort of thing all the time.

  • arlette81

    you are looking at it from your white woman lenses, which is unsurprising regardless of you being a feminist or not. The girl spent most of the time on the red carpet correcting douchebag ‘journalists’ how to pronounce her name and telling them her name is not ‘Annie’, Seth makes her a punchline to a joke about Clooney, and her night ends with her being called a cunt on a global platform.

    There’s also the argument that celebrities like Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin would never be referenced that way, while Willow Smith is often the target of taunting and disrespect despite her young age.

  • Sol O.

    Actually it does – are you saying it was wrong for Swift to advocate the eating of children in “A Modest Proposal” because even though it was satire, the words were still said that way?

  • GBS

    This is by far the most reasonable explanation I’ve seen. Including your last few sentences(that many commenters seem to have missed) where you acknowledge that, yes, the joke was ill advised. I’m curious, though, why you targeted Macfarlane’s “boob song.” When I saw it in context, it seemed to be attempting a similar thing and it seems unfair to lump it in with all the vile conversations being had by internet trolls

  • CB93

    The Rosenberg quote is on point, but the tweet was only punching-down if its target (the celebrity-mud-slinging public and media) is seen as lower than The Onion. I don’t like that an innocent person ended up in the crossfire, but the intended target is clear.

  • duckgirlie

    I got the joke just fine. But I’d also argue that if they desperately wanted to make that joke, there were other, pretty much universally liked people in that audience that tehy could have made the joke aboit

  • James

    This is completely false. McFarlane’s entire oeuvre is satirical. What content of his have you ever consumed that WASN’T satire, aside from his album of jazz standards?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It’s a good article. Sadly, it’s comment thread devolved rather quickly.

  • SaintAndy

    Do I really have to point out how those 2 situations are completely different? For one, Swift constructed a situation so absurd NO ONE in his right mind would have thought it was anything but satire. There are many people who took that tweet at face value, and many others who didn’t find it problematic, because they think it’s ok to call women of all ages and colours that name.

    Most importantly, Swift didn’t actually call those children any names, and certainly not something as dehumanizing, and as negatively loaded as cunt.(He did address their humanity, and how some people saw the Irish as less than, and fully deserving to starve, but, seriously, this is something from the early 18th century, so it’s very difficult to draw parallels)

    Finally, I really think it’s almost impossible to draw a fair comparison between Swift’s world, and the world we live in – so really, by trying to find exceptions to what I said, you’re basically just muddying the waters.

    If you want to comment on something, comment on the situation under discussion, don’t drag a very famous and well-written piece of satire from 1729 (seriously, we’re comparing literature and tweets now?) just as a way to go Gotcha!

  • There’s one major flaw in your argument here. The person writing The Onion’s Twitter jokes was almost certainly different than the people behind The Onion’s video coverage. I’ve both live-tweeted events and written instant recaps, and how it usually works is one or two people are in charge of posting to the site, and one separate person is in charge of live-tweeting. Moreover, the Onion posts aren’t text copy but fairly professional-quality video, which requires substantive pre-planning. There are really two ways to go with that: pre-cut the entire thing the week before and get an intern (or “intern,” but you know what I mean) to livetweet, or plan out, storyboard, etc. the entire thing the week before and quickly piece it together from red carpet footage, which probably still requires an intern to cover live-tweeting because everyone else will be too busy.

    If you don’t believe me, there’s one easy way to tell. The links to the site look like automatically generated tweets, the kind that The Onion used before and is using now. The Wallis tweet doesn’t contain a link to the site and isn’t auto-generated; it’s something that the writer composed, probably on the fly. So the context you should really be looking at is the other live-tweets, which are mostly simple jokes without much nuance, like (paraphrasing from memory) “Did anyone think Seth MacFarlane was going to sing? What a treat!” or “Watching the red carpet coverage. Pants, dresses, skirts, so much variety!” or “‘Jane Eyre’ wasn’t nominated because it didn’t come out this year and was also fucking terrible.” Based on tweets like this, I’m inclined to think the writer was going more for cheap sarcasm or shock value than any kind of nuanced feminist critique.

    (Not that I believe the tweet would have been a great idea even if the writer were; but it seems pretty clear to me this isn’t what’s going on.)

  • SaintAndy

    YES! A thousand times the above!

  • Bluejay

    the intended target is clear.

    That’s the problem: For many people, it wasn’t.

  • I thought it was hilarious, how can anyone take this seriously? IT’S THE ONION! Of all things to complain about they whine about this.

  • Sol O.

    Hate to break it to you but it doesn’t sound like your 13 year old is all that clever. I had mastered sarcasm (and cursing of the bluest quality) by about 10.

    And who is to blame for her ever being exposed to it? The person who said it or the many more people making a fuss about it. So often it’s the Fuss that really does the damage.

  • Sol O.

    Beautiful – well said.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I wondered when someone would bring up Swift. I think Swift had the benefit of not being restricted to 140 characters. That’s an important distinction.

  • Matt

    Right now, that 9-year old is playing outside, or watching Phineas and Ferb, or getting ready to play Annie. What she is not doing is giving a fuck about that Onion tweet. Stop giving so much of a fuck FOR her, she doesn’t need you to do it.

    This is not directed at the author, this is directed at every commenter who just adores being offended, who gets that adrenaline rush every time some minor un-PC mishap pops up on their TV, on their computer, or on their dumb shitty phone.

    Get a life, care about something else, call your mom, learn a new skill, get back to work… anything, please.

    Maybe the Onion went too far… maybe. But if comedic staples like The Onion didn’t push boundaries and go over the top we wouldn’t have good comedy. We would have safe, boring, bullshit comedy. It’s the trial and error that allows for great comedic moments to happen, and when a joke or the bit goes too far it IS important for the one telling the joke to acknowledge that and move on. The Onion acknowledged it, trust me, you don’t have to keep talking about it. It was clear that they weren’t trying to be malicious or cruel, and you all know that. However, it’s more enjoyable for you to freak out and and convince yourself that they were trying to be hurtful, so then you can get your fix and run to the message boards and cry out for justice.

    Just call it a day people, I beg of you. Go watch Phineas and Ferb, or play outside, or learn your lines for your upcoming role as Annie.

  • Bluejay

    Hate to break it to you but it doesn’t sound like your 13 year old is
    all that clever. I had mastered sarcasm (and cursing of the bluest
    quality) by about 10.

    You’re telling me that if you found out when you were 10 that some adults had called you a cunt in an international public forum, you would have easily understood that they were merely trying to make a point about misogyny in the larger culture? No hard feelings?

  • CB93

    True, but that’s a problem of skewed and limited individual perception, rather than the joke’s fault.

  • Just No

    You’re making it a black thing? Get out of town!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Congratulations, you are now officially the biggest jerk on the thread for insulting another commenter’s children. You win: nothing.

    You also fail basic ed psych as, like I said, using sarcasm and understanding sarcasm are not the same thing, and the latter lags the former significantly. No prize for that.

    And finally, you fail logic, as your personal anecdote does not constitute evidence. While I did invoke my own kid as an example, my evidence is the decades worth of research I’ve read, born out by years of personal experience working with adolescents.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Someday, in the not to distant future, maybe when she’s 13 or so, Quvenzhané Wallis, or maybe one of her friends, is going to do an internet search for that time she got to go to the Oscars. Two guesses what Tweet is going to show up in that search, and the first guess guess doesn’t count.

    Also, telling everyone to mellow out and stop being so offended, in addition to the unintended irony, is a dick move.

  • In Defense of Seth MacFarlane and “We Saw Your Boobs.”

    The bit was DESIGNED to be in poor taste. Captain Kirk had come from the future just to warn Seth MacFarlane about how awful that bit was. It would not have been funny if the bit had been in good taste, that would have ruined the entire premise of the sketch. Charlize Theron later joined McFarlane on stage to dance and “class up” the whole show. Her absolutely LOVELY dance would not have had the same poignant, “touch of class” emotional impact without the set-up from McFarlane’s crass buffoonery. It’s ALL one bit! If Theron had come out and danced before that, it would have looked twee and dopey and self-indulgent. By making himself look like a BOOB, MacFarlane made Theron look positively radiant later. As she was, she looked AMAZING! MacFarlane KNEW that the “We Saw Your Boobs” song was tasteless and wrong. It was clearly supposed to be distasteful. The humor was in how BAD that was (how horrible the opening “hypothetically” COULD have been) so that everything after that seemed so much classier and cool.

  • rocket74

    Something I noticed: in his apology, the CEO apologizes to Wallis…and the Academy. That’s an odd note to strike, given that the Academy was not mentioned in the tweet explicitly or implicitly, and is an institution composed primarily of older, wealthy White men. Regardless of the intended targeting of the tweet, it says something weird about the apology.

  • BunnynSunny

    Who reads tweets?

  • How about if we replace the word cunt with n***er. Is that also intellectually funny? Somethings are just not acceptable and calling a nine year old a cunt in public (which is what twitter is) is outrageous. The argument of the what the joke actually meant is likely spot on. But for god sakes, know your audience. If you can’t help yourself from telling this joke, then tell it to the right audience and not in public. This talented spirited little girl will be forever known as the girl who was called a cunt on the internet when she was nine. No matter what she achieves, not matter how far she goes, she will always bear the weight of this insult. She’s tainted with a scandal at nine years old. It’s disgusting. I think the Onion writer should be fired.

  • Sol O.

    I wasn’t insulting your child. Intelligence isn’t an accomplishment. Lack of intelligence isn’t a failure. I was just disagreeing that your child is necessarily an appropriate benchmark of what 13 year olds understand. It’s also quite possible you don’t know yours as well as you think and she is more clever than you give her credit for. I feel fairly confident that at that age or younger I would have at least understood the comment was not to be taken literally. And had it been directed at me, well, I mastered the old “Sticks and Stones” theory at an even younger age than that!

    That little girl, at the age of 6, was obviously taught that an adult can scream awful things at her and even physically threaten her and it’s not “real” (i.e. during the making of the film) so I’m absolutely confident she has the strength and intellect to “get through this”. Why do you insist on thinking so little of her?

  • Sol O.

    No, but I had enough inner strength and confidence to not give a shit what some stranger said about me – especially a generic curse word. She’ll be fine.

  • SaintAndy

    Acknowledging having privilege isn’t enough in and of itself. You have to try to fix that skewed perspective (people as a work in progress and all that).

    Anyway, I’m replying to this message of yours out of convenience. I simply wanted to say that I will no longer be reading your site. Now I know that I am probably coming across as ridiculous, and very like a 3 year old throwing a tantrum, but the thing is I have been reading some feminist and atheist sites lately – such as Pharyngula:http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/ – and I think I got used to reading articles and comments from blog authors and commenters who were always pushing back against all manner of -ist tropes.

    My belabored point is that although your writing is usually good, and you seem to have your heart in the right place, when you fail, you do so hard, and most importantly, you double down on your argument.

    That doubling down and refusing to yield even an inch – like your persistent defense of what The Onion did, while at the same time insisting that you are a feminist – is much too similar to the same behaviour coming from the part of MRAs and other “charming” individuals who think calling anyone a cunt is ok because Humour! or England!.

    I rarely, if ever, commented, but I read your blog frequently. It took an article like this to jolt me out of my apathy, because it was so offensive to see how you were actually defending this. You were given many excellent reasons why you should reassess your position by many commenters, some very well known to you and regular commenters of this blog. You did not reassess anything and soldiered on with your privilege.

    Now you are getting comments and pats on the back from men (judging by their user names) who proclaim we are just being over-sensitive, that we are just looking for something to be offended, that our reaction is actually more offensive than the original tweet (!!).

    I usually read blogs for their content AND the comments, and I simply do not have the energy (or the emotional endurance) to read your article in favour of cunt-calling (yes, I am slightly misrepresenting your article) and then wade through increasingly misogynistic comments.

    I know my not reading your blog anymore is irrelevant. I know it’s a drop in the ocean, even more so since I am just a reader, not a donor of money. I am however posting this comment as a way to signal to you in my small, insignificant way, that you are wrong about this.

    At the end of the day, you can call yourself a feminist all you like. Some of the people who deny others their humanity and their right to dignity have the temerity to call themselves feminists and not racists and etc.

    It’s your actions – in this case your writing – that represent you, and right now, you are indistinguishable from all the other sexist people and rape apologists and on, and on, ad infinitum .You employed some of the same tropes they did (humour! intention is magic!) when they try to retain the privilege to insult other people and spew their hateful garbage.

    Long story short: You call yourself a feminist, and claim to be aware of race issues, but many of your posts on this site call into question those assertions. I shan’t be reading again, and you shan’t care (nor should you).

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I wasn’t insulting your child.

    You’d be wrong.

    I was just disagreeing that your child is necessarily an appropriate benchmark of what 13 year olds understand.

    And your memories of yourself as a kid are? Also, read what I just wrote about anecdotes and evidence and research and experience.

    during the making of the film

    First, I’m not questioning her ability to process make believe. I don’t think this qualifies as an analogous situation. Also, there were people on set who job it was to monitor what she was being exposed to. Will they be keeping her off the internet indefinitely now?

    I’m absolutely confident she has the strength and intellect to “get through this”. Why do you insist on thinking so little of her?

    Yes, what am I thinking, putting concern for an innocent individual over the ability to write satire and make political points. Clearly I am the lesser human being here.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    As a side note: the new build of Disqus appears to begin to eat itself as a comment thread gets longer and longer.

  • So his dehumanising children to the point of considering them food is fine, so long as he didn’t call them a bad word. Alright then.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The only time the failure of a joke is not the joke’s fault is when the joke is mis-told (as in “Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 6 7 8. No, wait, I mean…”).

  • Many many many people.

  • In what way?

  • Calling what you do tasteless and then doing it anyway doesn’t excuse it.

  • Thank you for coming to my defense, but as someone who is often accused of being offended because I somehow enjoy being offended, I can assure you that those who are upset by the Onion’s tweet are not talking about it publicly because they’re getting an adrenaline rush or adore being offended. They’re truly offended, and they have every right to be.

    I understand why some people are offended. Like them, I am fed up with how girls and women are mistreated and abused by our culture in all manner of ways both small and huge. We disagree on the details in this case. But I am totally sympathetic to their rage.

  • As a feminist, I can assure that I have deployed cheap sarcasm sometimes, and that doesn’t mean it wasn’t also feminist. :->

  • As I mentioned in my piece. But for pure shock value — which is what that tweet was about — there’s more shock in an adorable and spunky nine-year-old. It’s much more incongruous… which is what the aim was, to be so completely incongruous as to be ridiculous.

  • See my other replies in this thread about MacFarlane and context. (His context does not support a feminist reading.)

  • LaSargenta

    (1) There reaches a point where it is very difficult to tell at a glance which comments are being answered by additional comments (they are all aligned at the same left margin);

    (2) there reaches some number of comments (I suspect somewhere between 32 and 57) where clicking on the time stamp on the Current Conversations pages just takes one to the top of the comments and not to the comment desired;

    (3) some of the answers to comments seem to disappear and reappear if I close and reopen the page; and

    (4) [Except this is probably not what Dr.R. means ’cause it’s my understanding that he accesses this site through a normal computer] there reaches a point where on my BB browser for the BB that does seem somewhat intermittently compatible with this new Disqus where I can get the post to load, but the minute the comments complete loading, my entire browser shuts down. This appears to be related to number of comments, not size of comments nor length of post.

  • Apparently you are unaware of how underage white female celebrities have been subject to some vile — and much more widespread — sexualization that has not been ironic but very much intended to reduce them to fuck toys…. or “joking” about at what age it’s “okay” to reduce a teenaged girl to a fuck toy.

    I’m not denying that black girls, in general, have things even worse than white girls. But I also have no doubt that had there been another preteen girl prominent in the crowd and among the nominees, she would have been just as likely to be named in that tweet.

  • I’ve never used that word either. It’s vile. And I hate it when men are called “dicks.” It reduces us to our biology, and then it makes that biology something disgusting and hateful. Our bodies are not disgusting.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I don’t know why this needs to be explained, but…

    Swift didn’t call out particular children by name.

    Swift used over 3300 words, comprised of over 19000 characters, to make his point, and the piece is famous for it’s level of detail, yet was never deliberately vulgar.

    Swift had a much different, and likely smaller, audience (the entire population of the UK in 1729 was around 9M, or about twice The Onion’s list of twitter followers).

    Let’s just wait and see if, in 200 years, articles from The Onion are held up as the greatest example of satirical writing in moder history, shall we?

  • LaSargenta

    {Total aside, but I have known people who were grandparents at young ages. My best friend’s grandmother is only 32 years older than she is. Interestingly, my best friend, who is my age, remains childless.}

  • I said the Onion screwed up. Did you miss that?

    Intent in the difference between manslaughter and murder. If you want me to say that the Onion committed the comedic equivalent of murder here, I’m not going to say it. Because I don’t believe it.

  • Those who are angriest about this tweet seem to forget the “Everyone else seems to afraid to say it” part. If they want to take the rest of it at face value, they have to take this at face value, too. And they’re not.

  • LaSargenta

    Well, I stay away from ‘bitch’, too, because of its origin w.r.t. an animal used for breeding, so I think its intent is to make person being labeled less than human.

  • Matt

    And when that day comes… she’ll be fine.

    And I wasn’t trying to tell everyone to “mellow out”, I was trying to make people realize that there are more important things in this world than a misunderstood, crass tweet that won’t REALLY affect anyone in the long run. I also wanted to make the point that people get off on being offended. These cries of outrage are self indulgent. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine, but I whole heartedly find that to be true. I also find it to be a complete waste of time… just like writing this. I’m actually annoyed at myself for responding right now. That is the feeling one should get while gushing about trivial crap on the internet, but they don’t. They feel proud of themselves, like they did something to help this world… guess what, they fucking didn’t. No one has changed any minds here, bc everyone on here is stubborn. The internet is one big pissing contest.

    You know what, nevermind, keep going, keep harping, I’ll stop reading the drivel that is the comment section. I’ll find the humor in all this absurdity, you all will continue to be offended and we will all live happily ever after.

    This is the second and last time I will ever write a comment on the internet. This heroin is not good stuff. Thank you Dr. Rocketscience, I’ve learned my lesson and avoided the crippling disease all you whiners clearly have. No Offended Internet Commenters Anonymous for me!

  • No, it was not told in a vacuum. And if kids are unsupervised online, they are rapidly going to discover what the reality of the Net (and the world at large) is.

    Is the whole world now supposed to be reduced to stuff that won’t upset kids? Because they’re gonna find everything online.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So far what I’ve noticed:

    -it’s losing track of authors. That is, it’s attributing posts to the wrong author, often the person who wrote the post immediately prior.

    -some replies don’t indicate what they are replying to.

    -the pop-up tab for new comments above and below can’t quite find the post it’s referring to

    -I’m not quite sure how it’s deciding to order the posts. I think it’s contextual, but it’s getting harder and harder to tell what it’s doing and why. Oh, wait, never mind, I seem to have it set to sort by “Best”, whatever that means. >.<

    Refreshing the page appears to fix it. Though the the alignment issue LaSargenta mentions looks like it's intentional.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I do. I’m presently viewing the site on Chrome in OSX. At work. Where I should probably be doing something more productive. >.>

  • If I had been spending the last 20 years raising a child or children, I woulnd’t have had time to run this web site.

  • LaSargenta

    Like going back the the OSC thread and trying to argue someone out of circles? LOL (No don’t. I’m sure you have much better things to do.)

  • All right. Let’s say you know nothing at all about the Onion. (Though why you’d be following them on Twitter, I don’t know.) You see a tweet that starts out with “Everyone else seems afraid to say it” and then continues with something so outrageously absurd that it’s perfectly plain that this is most certainly NOT something that everyone is secretly thinking but is afraid to say.

    You wouldn’t see ironic intent in that?

  • Do you think anyone at the time believed that Swift was being serious?

    I bet some people did.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh, jeebis, that thread. I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather III with that one.

  • noixdekk

    Having volunteered in grade school classrooms, I have to agree — kids are the most literal beings that exist. They may mimic the tones and words that adults use and they may even understand how to use those tones and words to get the laughter that they see adults getting for saying similar things, but they don’t understand nuance and they certainly don’t get sarcasm. (I’m sure there are kids who are exceptions, of course.) I guess what I’m trying to understand is — why would it even matter? Are we really at a point in society where we have to risk hurting a 9-year-old to make some ironic point about what racist, sexist and many other “ist” assholes we adults can be?

  • Come on, MaryAnn, nine year olds can Google themselves, just like the
    rest of us. And The Onion staff aren’t stupid and it’s not a minor
    website, it’s the biggest goddamn satire site on the web

    No, you come on. If it’s that obvious that the Onion is a satire site, then a nine-year-old Googling will quickly see that.

    I hear what you’re saying about other celeb kids. But at least this nine-year-old, or future self, will see that people are discussing the issue.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The irony here is getting particularly delicious. And now with some flounce icing on top. Lovely.

    Look, Matt, no one made you comment in the first place. But telling everyone to shut up really doesn’t add much to the conversation, you know? And the conversation in this thread has been, for the most part, civilized and productive. The first rule of arguing over the internet (snarky memes aside) is that you’re not arguing to convince the other person. You’re arguing a point to convince anyone reading. If you don’t know that, then yeah, it’s probably best that you avoid comments sections.

    I anxiously await your reply, as no flounce can be complete without one.

  • noixdekk

    Really? You can’t be serious with that question. Have you spent any time looking at America’s preferred news stories? How could that be posted on a media site and not get eventually seen by her? And, again, what difference would it make whether they thought she’d see it or not? If the Onion had posted “I think we should all gang up on Quvenzhané, rape her and then kill her” would it have been o.k. because they never thought she’d actually see the threat? Would that have also somehow been ironic? Or is it just because they used a word that feminists can sink their teeth into that the little girl at the heart of all this shouldn’t matter?

  • Clementine

    No one is asking you to do that. But remember, manslaughter is still a crime, and the outcome for the victim is still the same. I don’t think anyone here has misunderstood the INTENT of the tweet, they just disagree with you that it’s no big deal because satire. You’ve clearly chosen your corner and are going to stick to it come hell or high water, which is a pity, but you seem to be completely missing the bit where the victim of manslaughter/murder is still dead on the ground. To them, the intention of the person who killed them is irrelevant. People’s concern isn’t whether the intent of the Onion tweeter was pure – it’s what the effect is on Quvenzhane, who is now the little girl who was called a cunt in front of the world. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY DIDN’T MEAN IT. She’s still that girl, even if you follow her around for the next five years saying “BUT THEY DIDN’T REALLY MEAN THAT”.

    Yeah, you said they screwed up. But you devoted hundreds of words to explaining why it was okay for them to screw up.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m sure they did, I just think it’s a particularly apt comparison.

    EDIT: not an apt comprison

  • CB93

    It’s not the failure of the joke. That’s my point.

  • misterwarhol

    but have you ever called a guy a “dick”? Serious question, for perspectives sake

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I really don’t understand why you’re so committed to this. I get that you think that using someone else lessens the impact of the satire, but:
    a) at some point, doesn’t decency at least suggest that you sacrifice some part of the impact of your statement in deference to protecting a little girl whom you are working to make sure doesn’t have to be exposed to this kind of misogyny; and
    b) isn’t it possible to condemn the choice to use Wallis in this way, while still arguing that there was a legitimate point being made in that tweet?

  • alex

    Plenty of people don’t “get” Ornette Coleman, or even John Coltrane. Or jazz. That doesn’t make it any less great.

    Is it even possible to connect with every member of the audience? Is that even something to aim for? Sometimes reactions vary. Clearly not *everyone* failed to get The Onion’s joke.

  • DC Martin

    I came to the same basic conclusion about the tweet (it WAS satire, even if poorly done), but I differ in the analysis of WHAT was being satirized. The satire wasn’t about Hollywood misogyny, it was about Hollywood and the media’s habit of taking pains to properly pronounce the name so f oddly monikered white Hollywood starlets, while brushing off any effort to get unusual black names right. A director said outright in an Oscar-odds type interview that “I also don’t vote for anyone whose name I can’t pronounce. Quvez—? Quzen—? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name — Alphabet Wallis. The truth is, it’s a very sweet but immature performance from a 9-year-old. I’ve directed children. They probably did a thousand takes and put the best ones together.”.
    Some in the media were taken aback that when they butchered her name, this little girl didn’t just smile and say “whatever”, she would politely but firmly correct them……….” who does this unknown kid think she is, she should just be happy to be nominated and let us call her whatever the hell we please.”
    That said,, “cunt” was unnecessary in reference to a nine year-old girl, satire or not. I am not offended b the word “cunt” – I use it quite frequently when discussing Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. But never in reference to children.
    As for McFarlane, he was not a good fit for the Oscars because he wasn’t afraid to throw their misogynist tendencies right on the stage for all to see. “I Saw Your Boobs” very masterfully pointed out that actresses stand a better chance of winning when their nominated performance includes nudity, abuse, or both. Female nudity is always “tastefully done” and “pivotal to the plot”. Male nudity is brief and almost always obscured by the actress straddling him in full close-up. He hit the nail on the head with that number.

  • alex

    “For one, Swift constructed a situation so absurd NO ONE in his right mind would have thought it was anything but satire.”

    Honestly, that’s exactly how I read The Onion’s tweet. It’s how I read *everything* they write. They’re a satirical publication. To say that about Quvenzhane of all people struck me as clearly intentionally over-the-top and absurd.

  • alex

    Maybe she’ll also learn what The Onion is.

    And by that time hopefully someone will have advised her to start getting used to horrible online comments if she’s going to continue working in the movie industry.

  • Blue Period

    That’s a little too close to the historical understanding of rape — that a girl or woman is tainted forever by a sexual thing that happened TO her.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yeah, that’s the solution: “Get used to it, honey.” Brilliant.

  • John Morrison

    If kids are off limits, then so should adults. Her point is that you shouldn’t talk about women like that at all, but society does. Because you are 18 or older, it’s ok to talk about women like that? Wallis, because of her gender and her age, are the example in the joke because it sparks the conversation you see here. Maybe if we talk about it, we’ll stop calling women cu*^$, no matter what their age.

  • Paul Youngman

    I’d like to address most of the commenters, not the author. a while back, The Onion was hailed (by me and most of Facebook) for a brutally efficient bit of satire in which fashion commentary about The Golden Globes was paired with images of the university bombing in Syria. no one, and I mean NO ONE worried over how the people in the photos would feel if they saw it. even Arab-Americans I know loved it, were calling for The Onion to win a Pulitzer. why? you think people in Syria don’t have internet? you think bombing victims aren’t as fragile? the world needs satire, and we can’t have it if we are constantly worried over people’s feelings, we can’t have it if we don’t cross boundaries. The Onion is doing us a service. they made a small error in judgement, whilst trying to produce satire at blistering speed. they apologized. maybe they’ll go a little slower next time. outrage just isn’t appropriate. yes, she’ll come across it one day. I’m fairly certain she’ll find it more perplexing than hurtful. I imagine she’s going to receive TONS of coaching on how to survive as a celebrity, which is what she now is. oh, and I am a parent, and my daughter is nine. and she’s way, way tougher that you people seem to think a little girl could be.

  • Bluejay

    I was trying to make people realize that there are more important things
    in this world than a misunderstood, crass tweet that won’t REALLY
    affect anyone in the long run

    I hate this argument, and I was wondering when someone would make it.

    The tweet is the subject of this thread, therefore people are talking about it. We’re all still concerned about government corruption and corporate greed and climate change too. And awesome books and sublime music and audacious art and puppies. It’s possible to care about more than one thing at a time.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    But when your joke fails, you don’t get an A for effort.

  • Bluejay

    at some point, doesn’t decency at least suggest that you sacrifice some
    part of the impact of your statement in deference to protecting a little
    girl whom you are working to make sure doesn’t have to be exposed to
    this kind of misogyny

    This. All day I’ve been thinking: It’d be really great if we were a society that privileged the emotional well-being of children over the adult pleasures of satire and irony.

  • LaSargenta

    ? You’re dying in the garden with your dog?

  • Provenz

    The joke relies on the fact that the little girl is the furthest thing possible from such an epithet. There’s no ‘collateral damage’ involved – in fact, it’s all about the lurid world of Hollywood stardom that sweet, innocent little girl is about to be immersed into – and like so many other child stars may very well be damaged by and not at all collaterally. The joke was about how no one is safe in the culture of Hollywood – not even this sweet, innocent little girl. How is that a joke that damages her? It seems it’s just the use of the word ‘cunt’ in the same sentence as her name that makes it emotionally unpalatable. The author here gets exactly why that’s done, and to what purpose.

  • Also Feminist

    I agree that the onion was absolutely great on twitter through the whole evening. Many of their other tweets were incisive, critical, and hilarious. Whoever was on the tweeter was brilliant, and yeah, they stumbled on this one, but they were making a good point. How could a sweet little girl POSSIBLY be a c–t?! I wish they hadn’t done it, but I agree with your analysis. Thanks!

  • Libra_Lady

    This was a little BLACK girl they did this to. A BLACK girl. You know the group of girls that get the most shat on in America? The group of girls who are sexualized from the time they come out the womb. The group of girls on whom the StrongBlackWoman label is thrown so that no one need be bothered with their emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. Yeah, THAT group of girls.

    All this article shows is again, White feminists don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves and the White men they want power from.

  • J.”g.”J.

    You will NEVER know what it is like to be a Black womyn in America, so you can definitely shut the fuck up about how a New Afrikan child being called a cunt does or does not offend you. Speak on what you can know about, and please, keep your opinions to yourself when it comes to matters of white supremacy (which you can only perpetuate but not understand nor remedy)…

  • soccerboyLA

    This is so well written and refreshing. Thank you. The only question I have is how can you (rightly) say that the Onion’s tweet points out sexism, but Seth MacFarlane’s boob song does not? We can’t just pick and choose based on our preconceived notions.

  • Agreed. I don’t think it would have been better to use “bitch,” but I don’t think it would have had the same overtly sexual tones that made this such an issue of intersectionality.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, that, too. But mostly I keep getting pulled back in.

  • WBPlum
  • OldGuyNewDad

    No, it wouldn’t, because that’s closer to accurate than ironic.

  • beck0974

    Right. Oh, and thank you for being able to speak to the well being of a child you do not know.

  • Can we stop with the assumption that children don’t see things on the internet. The child has her own twitter for one, two children can find porn on the internet how hard would it be to find something linked to her name, three she goes to school and talks to people some other child probably overheard a loose-lipped parent talking about it. A google Chrome search right now list it twice in the top searches linked to her name. I think its a safe assumption that she has seen it or will very soon. And I added a screen capture just so you can see it for yourself. You make a point that it was about one thing but for a nine year old girl she has been called a cunt. And if no one wants to tell her the definition of the word cunt she can look it up online, which she will do. So just stop assuming she won’t see it cause that assumption is just completely errorneous and anyone using twitter should assume that targets of the things that they tweet can read them cause they can.GTFO with that.

  • Buzzloves

    Yeah, they are complete buffoons who get away with the most retarded shit, and are still almost viewed as sympathetic characters.

    That’s not equal opportunity writing, he just likes being a jackass on tv.

  • Buzzloves

    As far as low-brow can be satire, sure.

  • milkteeth

    wow lol youre racist congratulations

  • Buzzloves

    Don’t worry MaryAnn, anonymity brings out the angry torchbearer in people more than it used to normally.

    Silly internet.

  • Buzzloves

    You’re a woman, therefore you don’t get to decide what’s about men.

    You’re christian, therefore you don’t get to decide what’s meaningful about other people’s beliefs in God.

    And on, and on and on. Please no more reverse racism, this is making the internet look bad :/.

  • Buzzloves

    “The joke is obvious to me in that sense – Quvenzhané is clearly NOT a
    horrible person. I didn’t find it funny because it’s frustratingly
    vague. The difference between that Tweet and the others is that there’s
    no text or article backing it up elsewhere, it’s just…there, and looks
    needlessly spiteful.”

    Sensible person, what are you doing here? This is the internet, you know….

    We don’t look kindly towards your kind around these here parts…

    And this town isn’t big enough for two brainiacs, partna’

  • Buzzloves

    Free speech is bad. So is satire. Constitution says hi.

    Food for thought, why do we, as internet pundits, so very love being at war with something, both real and imagined?

  • Buzzloves

    “For one, Swift constructed a situation so absurd NO ONE in his right mind would have thought it was anything but satire.”

    You honestly believe a yellow journalism paper that is one of the most known meant this silly, but that fellow didn’t?

    Hmm. I can clearly see we believe what we want to believe, not what is supported by any kinds of facts or circumstantial evidence.

  • Lolipsy

    What I found so offensive wasn’t that she was female or that they used such raunchy language. What offended me was that the Onion made a comment like that about a nine year-old. Had the Onion said “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but, that Misha Handley is kind of a dick, right?” I would have been just as offended. Yes, the fact that she is female should not just be offensive because she’s young. But it’s the fact that she’s young that makes the Onion’s comment so offensive.
    Also, kids don’t get sarcasm. It hurts, and it’s hard to explain even to a fourteen year old that someone didn’t actually mean what they said. WHEN she finds this tweet, her mother is going to be hard pressed to explain how it isn’t about her.

  • Buzzloves

    Mary, that would require a little bit of thought.

    Sadly, the internet these days is filled with about 5% of what I like to call “pure ragers”, if there’s not something to be angry about this week, they’ll find it ;P.

  • Buzzloves

    Both mind bending points haha.

  • Buzzloves

    Have you EVER. READ. THE. ONION. BEFORE. ?

    The answer is no, because people who get so mad at this, have never read an actual yellow journalism piece in their life. Thankfully, the internet is your home, and those kinds of ignorantish kneejerk vigilante internetism is becoming a little bit too common these days :/.

  • Buzzloves

    Free speech bro. Stop trolling, for reals, it’s getting tiring seeing all your quasi intellectually dressed hatred of free speech and things that insult you. There are much worse things for you to worry about. Like KOONY 2013!

  • Buzzloves

    If you’re not Just Asking Questions On a site, You’re Just Asking Questions- What?

  • Jaz

    You’re reaching WAYYY too hard.

  • Buzzloves

    There are some women that just hate men no matter how empathetic your feelings towards them are, it’s been a growing trend these past few years on the internet, sadly.

    If you don’t support the female overthrow of all men on the planet, with some of these people, they will disrespect your opinion regardless of how thoughtful it is. Sad but true.

  • Lolipsy

    I just want to know, do you have children of your own? A nine year old will not quickly see it’s a satire site. A nine year old may not even know what ‘satire’ and ‘parody’ are. Heck, I know fifteen and sixteen year olds who have only just learned that the Onion is a satire site. You are too quick to brush aside the damage this could do because of how sensitive and literal kids are all the way up until they are well into adulthood. You also seem to think of children as more mature than they actually are.

  • Buzzloves

    ” your reliance on intent”

    Humor is all about intent. Or did you miss that class in high school?

  • Buzzloves

    “Jack is a douchebag.

    Jack is a fatass.

    Jack is so fat that his douches leak”

    There is a difference between humor and being an incredible asshole.

    If this was actually tweeted at the actress you could make an argument for the onion being shitheads.

    Ironically, all this attention will MAKE SURE she sees the tweet in questions, which; BEING at the awards while it was tweeted, she likely would have never seen; you know, being NINE and all.

    Score – 1 for the internet vigilantes

    Big bad satire magazine using adult words on what’s basically and 18+ magazine’s twitter feed, priceless.

  • Buzzloves

    This is borderling arguing just to argue. This is what’s wrong with 90% of the internet with anonymous commenting.

  • Jaz

    Sooo, if there was included context for calling a child a “cunt”, that would’ve been better?

    Fvck you.

    Also, fvck your perspective. We’re talking about an American girl who was called a cunt in America, not an English MAN for whom being called a “cunt” in England doesn’t have the same gendered meanings or violence.

  • Buzzloves

    Well, thanks to THEM, seven out of the THIRTEEN results for her name yield a link relating to this tweet, so she DEFINITELY WILL See it now.


  • Buzzloves

    Your readers really like arguing with you lol :P.

  • beck0974

    Actually, no. Rush Limbaugh, a radio pundit in the US, called Sandra Fluke, a law student speaking before Congress about women’s reproductive rights, a c*** (among other things) on his radio show. The feminist came out of the woodwork to rightly denounce him for his crass words. He didn’t get a pass, but I guess nameless Onion employee does.

  • Buzzloves

    “However, it’s more enjoyable for you to freak out and and convince
    yourself that they were trying to be hurtful, so then you can get your
    fix and run to the message boards and cry out for justice.”

    Wow, a well thought out, well reasoned post on the internet. I am SPEECHLESS. Mainly because I assumed this was stupid as was ready to yell at you like everyone else will.

  • Rachel

    Thank you so, so much for this. People are overlooking the fact that black women are sexualized and commodified at an extremely early age. This only adds to the oppression, no matter the intent, because they didn’t see a little girl with feelings, they saw her as a prop to serve their narrative.

  • Buzzloves

    Hello doctor it’s not as hard as, thanks to people like you being so outraged, not only will she find 7 out of 13 google results for her name linking to this tweet escapade, but now this young actress has something to think about that she probably would never have noticed or cared about.

    You’re welcome internet torchbearers, you got what you came for?

  • Buzzloves

    Honestly, if one impersonal tweet from a PARODY paper unhinges her self respect, just how will she feel when she hears the real world in her life NOT from a satire.

  • Buzzloves

    Metsy, that’s kind of the whole point of the joke. I bet these people would be demanding heads on pikes if they ever knew what the aristocrats was.

  • Buzzloves

    Hatred perpetuates hate. How do you feel you’ve convinced anyone by mispelling womyn and telling an outspoken person who disagrees with you to “shut the fuck up”, maybe you should go to a closed forum to spout off your hatred of others’ free speech and differing views than yours.

  • Buzzloves

    Sorry, but do you understand what “satire’ is?

  • Buzzloves

    Honestly, if this “name” pisses you off so much, why don’t you go do something about child slave labor, or worse in the poorer countries?

    Oh yes, that is right, because you are of a kind of people who likes constantly being up in arms much of the time, while not actually solving any real problems, like some politicians.

  • Buzzloves

    Wow Rich, very well spoken, bravo.

  • Ali

    Overall, I agree, but I think you missed the point about the “we saw your boobs” song. It was the thing MacFarlane SHOULDN’T do, the thing that Captain Kirk said made him the “worst Oscar host ever.”

  • Buzzloves

    People will always be mad unless it is neutered. I’ll fix it for you.

    The Onion (Adult baby version).
    “That lady who is also an actress sometimes rubs everyone the wrong way, do not you agree audience of adults?”

  • Buzzloves

    I’m pretty sure that song talks about sexually abusing donkeys.

  • Buzzloves

    Okay… This 1: isn’t about Ms. Palin.

    2: Isn’t about making fun of something for an aspect of their character that seems true.

    3: see above. You may need to look up “sarcasm” and “yellow journalism” one of these long years.

  • Buzzloves

    It’s okay MarkyD, fanboys will be fanboys, you know ;P.

  • Buzzloves

    People would still be angry, we all know this.

    Anything but “sunshine and butterflies” would have enraged many people :P.

    That’s the thing about humor, not everyone is the same. Different opinions. Weird. Let’s march to the Onion and demand everyone is fired now!!!!

  • Buzzloves

    There’s a vast difference between saying something *TO* a girl, and saying something *ABOUT* that same person, to an adult only audience. This is akin to questionable content on skinemax. And quite honestly, one- if there hadn’t been such a self righteous internet hubbub about this, being 9 years old, she never would have seen this,

    two, it’s on an adult satire site. I bet you go to hugh hefner’s house and complain about nude women on the premises?

    Oh but there was a child invited in by their parents and they saw naked women and that’s a no no, what a terrible place to be, how irresponsible of everyone but those parents.

    People like to get mad on the internet. Almost more than they like trolling people. It’s a fact.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if five years from now everyone hating on the internet admits they were just part of some elaborate troll to get all the newbs off the internet.

    If you READ the onion, you UNDERSTAND it’s a satire site.


    Since none of the people nerd/angry torch wielding raging on the internet never seem to read the onion, perhaps this is in order.

    “The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age. “.

    Case closed.

  • Buzzloves

    Maybe we should ask *everyone* who is ever in a joke if they approve of it or not, that way we can maximize humor.

    Then we’d only hear the funniest, most politically correct laughs possible.

    I’m going to rally for this starting today, I’m sure I’ll have a big internet following just for posting this.

  • Rachel

    Lemme guess-

    you’re white.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “Get used to it, honey” redux

  • alex

    I’m not saying it’s any kind of “solution.” People *will* say nasty things about her on the Internet. I just hope someone will warn her before she starts Googling herself, that’s all.

  • Lolipsy

    The fact that you have no children comes through in your original argument and your comments. You don’t understand. Seeing your name connected with such a vulgar insult is jarring – and cunt is a vulgar word with so many awful connotations. You seem to think that kids understand sarcasm – they don’t. You seem to think intent matters when it’s a young girl being called such a horrible word. Quvenshané is nine. No nine year old needs to have her name in the same tweet as the word ‘cunt’. Period. Gender aside, Quvenshané is nine, a little girl. That is what is so wrong. Intent means nothing in this situation.

  • Lolipsy

    Do you know how fragile adolescent girls’ self respect is. Also, jokes hurt, and embarrassment at jokes isn’t any less valid because the source of embarrassment is a joke. Eventually she will grow up and realize that some thoughtless person made a stupid move. But when she’s 11, 12, 13 and so on, what’ going to matter is a tweet that called her a cunt. And I’d be willing to bet that in a few years, there will only be the tweet – not all the discussion surrounding it. The tweet will be what she sees, and as a preteen/teen, she’s not necessarily going to understand the purpose of the tweet.

  • Lolipsy

    But for many people here, it’s not that she’s a girl. It’s that she’s a nine year old. No nine year old needs to be called a cunt, not even in satire.

  • Lolipsy

    Nine years old. That’s the issue. Nine year old referred to as a cunt. That is the issue here. There are some things that people just shouldn’t do and this is one of them.

  • tunasammich

    Here we go, white feminists once again proving everything WoC say about them. Thanks.

  • Exactly what I was going to say. Absolutely disgusting.

  • leonine

    If it has been much more widespread, it’s because there are more white female girl celebrities. But you can be psychic all you like, the fact is Anna Paquin, and other white children nominated for Oscars and/or who have won, have not been called cunts.

    Any time Black celebrities enter a celebrity arena, they are pilloried. We are talking about a very recent event where Black people — which includes Black children – were being denigrated from within 5 minutes of the Oscars. Picking on Mel Gibson and white actresses is not because they are white.

  • WOW WOW WOW and you wonder why most women do not go around saying “I am a feminist” …. I love it when people say offense and disgusting things.. and then when someone is offended they say ” Oh you just do not get satire” … Bull … I actually paid attention in school especially in English Literature … The Osama Bin Laden was an “offensive satire” .. what was said about this 9 year old child was vile and disgusting …The fact that ANY grown adult can make reference to any child as a female gentile is beyond alarming… it was over the line and uncalled for … That comment being made about any woman at any time is beyond filthy .. the word is gross and degrading …. Just like the word Bitch … Whore … Tramp and anything else you can muster up … Satire can be expressed without foul language or sexual content .. if you really are skilled at it ….
    Goodness we tell our babies to work hard and they will be rewarded and this is how she gets thanked??… By having a AP Reporter who is too damn lazy to do their homework decide to call her another name because she can not pronounce it … I bet you if that was Brad and Angelina’s kid they would know everything about this child … She is thee youngest actor every nominated in her category and you can not get her name right ????? That is rude .. and poor journalism …
    No woman should have to deal with that kind of attack… especially not a child and especially when their male counterparts do not have to deal with it …
    The fact that ANY woman can think this is funny or ok is why we as women have made very little progress … we should be so much further along then we already are … hell we can not even get equal pay for equal work .. because we have other women defending this vile and disgusting faceless individual ..
    I will not even go into the fact that the young lady was BLACK … That had more to do with it than any non- black will ever admit

  • Welp, I’m convinced. Other perspectives are evil and should be shouted down.

  • Why are you so willfully ignoring what the intent of the joke was?

  • leonine

    1. Not everyone sees the same things as you do.
    2. A tweet cannot be compared to an actual post.
    3. People can care about both.
    4. The problem is that people have been unconcerned and dismissive of Black girls for far too long. This isn’t about your daughter. And this isn’t about how tough you think girls are.

  • Disappointing…very weak argument.

  • leonine


    I don’t even know why she is bothering trumpeting about being a feminist. When from what I have read by mamis and mamas and mothers of colour–many non-mother feminists and many but not all white feminists do not give a shit about girls and babies of colour. I would link but don’t wanna them to get hassled online.

  • leonine

    What the hell does your question have to do with what I wrote? Either respond to what I wrote or stop wasting my time with your free speech, male, faux I understand everything including so-called satire inanity…good day.

  • leonine

    Yep. I don’t know why so many people think they know the intention behind the tweet when what the usually post in actual blog posts cannot be compared with this tweet…

  • By having a AP Reporter who is too damn lazy to do their homework decide to call her another name because she can not pronounce it … I bet you if that was Brad and Angelina’s kid they would know everything about this child … She is thee youngest actor every nominated in her category and you can not get her name right ????? That is rude .. and poor journalism …

    Agree 100 percent.

  • And he did it anyway.

  • I’m not allowed to have an opinion on this because I’m white?

  • I use it quite frequently when discussing Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin

    Um, then *you* were the target of the Onion’s satire.

  • I haven’t noticed any of this. Are you seeing the same thing on other sites? Maybe you could put in a support ticket with Disqus…?

  • Anna Paquin was a nominee in an era before the Net as it is today, and before the environment had gotten so horrendously misogynist.

    White girls *today* are subject to awful abuse, both targeted individually (as to celebs) and in general (as in the oversexualization of girls in our culture). I know it’s worse for black girls. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t terrible for white girls, too.

  • This is uncalled for.

  • Yeah, it’s funny how I can have a considered opinion and stand by it. Do you imagine I didn’t think about what I wrote before I wrote and posted it?

    And we will continue to disagree about whether Wallis is a victim here.

  • This is not helpful. We’re all able to be talking about and trying to change more than one thing at once. Please don’t be that person who says we’re not allowed to try to fix our own problem before all the other much worse problems elsewhere are fixed.

  • Did you not see the part of my post where I said that the Onion screwed up?

  • Saddened

    Honestly, this is post just shows how frequently white women will shove women of color under the bus in the name of “making a point for feminism.” NEVER have I seen so many so-called “feminists” coming out of the wood-works to defend the use of the word cunt. You would think that, if anything, feminists would be even more upset that an extremely vulgar word was used against a female of color, seeing as we are the ones who have a true history of being ignored and abused by the public. And although I understand why The Onion said this and what their point was, they did it on the back of a nine year old black girl, one who will have a significantly harder time making it in Hollywood than any of the three (white) women you named in your post. I can assure you, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Stewart, nor Emmanuelle Riva will EVER be called a “n*gger”. They will never have doors closed in their face because of their skin color. They will never be told that their decidedly ethnic-sounding name is “too difficult” to say and be re-branded to something “easier.”

    But, as you say, “that’s not what this tweet is about.” Please, tell me, when will it be about women of color? When will we be allowed to actually be included in the discussion without having to bear the brunt of it on our backs? Because this one can’t include us by nature. The joke was made at our expense. In The Onion’s respectable quest to make a legitimate point, they allowed a large percentage of women to fall to the wayside as victims of their satire. This is something that is frequently done to women of color: being forgotten and left behind in the search for “equality.” I don’t think they were trying to be racist. I don’t think they were trying to be offensive. However, they were ignorant of the extremely long history of women of color being made fun of and ridiculed. And at the end of the day, when you Google “Jennifer Lawrence” you see stuff about her being an Academy Award winner; when you Google “Quvenzhane Wallis”, you see all the articles about her being called a cunt. Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse. Being called a cunt to your face, or being called one in a “satirical” way that’s supposed to bring attention to something that you personally have no idea about, and being told you shouldn’t be upset about it.

    Overall, I’m sad for Quvenzhane and her parents and her family. I’m sad that people think this is what satire is supposed to be. I’m sad that a little black girl had to have the word cunt associated to her name so that someone could make a point. I’m sad that women of color are often tossed by the wayside in these kinds of things. I’m really sad that someone decided calling you a cunt was good satire.

  • Sol O.

    Not what I was trying to say at all. And based on your comment, I’d translate your first paragraph to: “No matter how much I pretend to respect women, they can somehow see that I’m actually an asshole.”

  • Bluejay

    This is borderling arguing just to argue. This is what’s wrong with 90% of the internet with anonymous commenting.

    Interesting that you should say that, “Buzzloves.”

  • M Brooks

    “I Guess I don’t see…”

    Ma’am THIS is the challenge folks have with you…

    In my opinion, there is nothing else you need to explain. You don’t have to understand. its the power of privilege.

  • Please, tell me, when will it be about women of color?

    Just because, in this one instance, I don’t think it’s about women of color doesn’t mean I don’t think other things are about women of color.

    I can assure you, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Stewart, nor Emmanuelle Riva will EVER be called a “n*gger”. They will never have doors closed in their face because of their skin color. They will never be told that their decidedly ethnic-sounding name is “too difficult” to say and be re-branded to something “easier.”

    You’re entirely correct. Those things are despicable, and those things are about race.

  • DC Martin

    Um, no – people with biases towards unusual, “black”-sounding names who think it’s OK to not putting any effort into correct pronunciation were the target.
    If you can take the time to learn how to pronounce “Schwarzenegger” or “Saoirse” or “Sacha” or “Macaulay”, you can take the time to learn how to pronounce “Quvenzhané” without painting the child as difficult or rude for correcting interviewers who butcher it.

    Strange how you totally got that point with Xiantoni Ari Lynch’s comment, and totally blow it off here.

  • If you can give me a reasonable defense of the boob song as satire, I’ll consider the possibility that it was intended as satire.

  • If you can take the time to learn how to pronounce “Schwarzenegger” or
    “Saoirse” or “Sacha” or “Macaulay”, you can take the time to learn how
    to pronounce “Quvenzhané” without painting the child as difficult or
    rude for correcting interviewers who butcher it.

    I agree completely. I don’t agree that that’s what the point of the tweet was.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    MaryAnn, I’ve read the piece several times, to be sure I’m not misunderstanding you. I don’t think I am, and besides, I agree with most of it.

    The language you use to say that the Onion screwed up is soft, and the actual words “the Onion screwed up” only show up at the end. That’s is, of course, fine. You’re not required to argue the other side for them.

    But that’s not what I’m talking about. The thing that I don’t understand is your commitment to is the idea that this tweet doesn’t directly, negatively affect Wallis. That’s what I’m seeing you arguing, not in the piece itself, but in the comments. But that’s how I think the Onion screwed up: a 9 year old black girl is just plain not fair game for the Onion to use as a weapon in a culture war. And I don’t understand why you don’t see that it’s relevant, or that it’s possible, even likely, that she is hurt by this.

  • sjfbooks

    I bet this tweet wouldn’t be defended if the child in question were white.

  • B

    Uh, ability to discern sarcasm has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. I’m autistic, I have virtually zero ability to discern sarcasm. I also am incredibly intelligent, as are many other autistic people.

  • Buzzloves

    That’s the joke, man.


    Hurp. A. Durp.

  • Buzzloves

    Forgot to add this earlier-

    Here is an example of article type reporting. http://www.theonion.com/articles/uk-cardinal-resigns-in-wake-ofget-thissex-abuse-al,31443/

    It is so TERRIBLE to satire the ridiculous excess of our star obsessed culture, with mocking tongue in cheek sarcasm, but you angry torch bearers have no qualms about making light of sexual abuse? ACTUAL SEXUAL ABUSE? Seriously. What is wrong with you people. Of ALL THINGS to get mad about.

  • KO

    Why does examining the intent behind this tweet matter?

  • Lolipsy

    I know. And that’s what’s wrong. They should never have used a nine year old to make a joke like that. If they wanted to point out how bad it is that people freely say that about older actresses, they should have chosen a different way to do it.

  • soccerboyLA

    First – I want to say how cool it is that you’re engaging in
    a discussion with your readers. I feel this kind of discourse is largely missing in society today, and we are all the worse for it. So thank you.

    I feel that the boob song’s intention as satire is proved by
    a couple of things. One, satire is expected of Seth MacFarlane. It’s what he does on all three of his network shows, whether we enjoy those shows or not. That expectation is why he (or any Oscar host, for that matter) was hired. He only gets to be as naughty as he is because we expect him to work in satire. Since we are all well aware of that, we’re all supposed to bring that knowledge and expectation with us while we watch the show.

    Two – I felt the song is ironic in a couple of ways. I will admit, we’re used to performers and writers pointing out rather loudly that they’re being ironic just to make sure we get what they’re intending. Seth wasn’t being loud in the way we’re used to. But by being so outrageous – singing about boobs at the Academy Awards – he utilized a type of verbal irony. Him venturing into extremely naughty
    territory is what points out to the audience that he’s being ironic.

    His performance style also betrayed the song’s intention. He
    didn’t coldly and flatly sing about boobs. If he had, it would be difficult to perceive it as something other than gross. But he didn’t do that, he sang gleefully, as if he were a 12 year old discovering something he likes. That cheekiness was intended as a clue to the song’s intention. And the fact that some people got it immediately (it sure played well in the house of the Dolby Theater) tells me that the intention came through loud and clear. (neither here nor there, but this also might be a good moment to point out that the reactions of the actresses he sung about that they cut away to during the song were pre-recorded.)

    I also feel the sheer accuracy of the lyrics was intended to
    point out that we need to examine the truthfulness of the problem the song addresses.

    I also want to say that for me, it was so clearly using what
    I mentioned above as tools of expression for it’s intention that I was
    surprised that there was backlash. I also can’t think of any event in recent history that has compelled so many people to think about sexism, racism, and homophobia and also make us all question our own subconscious thoughts about them all. And that, to me, makes it art.

  • Barbara

    This is embarrassing and ridiculous. You’ve gotten your publicity, so I’m sure you’re pleased with that. What you are missing is that she is not only a 9 yo girl (yeah, I’d LOVE someone to call my 9 yo daughter that and oh yes, she’d get over it – no. She’d always remember it, no matter when she was told about it) You gloss over the fact that she is a little girl of color, and you, as a white lady, are sitting here explaining why people should “accept the satire”. You’re sitting on a lot of privilege to be handing out that knowledge. Boo.

  • Barbara

    Do you have daughters?

  • Lori S.

    “she’s being treated badly to make a point about not treating girls badly, that’s she’s being offered up as a sacrificial cow by those who would call themselves her allies.”

    This. In spades. This is the crux of the issue. Thank you for this.

  • Actually, couldn’t we really place the blame on the author of the piece above? I mean, she called attention to it in her writing, the comments just followed, but the article was already there for searching pleasure…

  • Kaya

    Hey it’s not really up to you to decide what’s “about women of color” because you’re not one of us because you don’t live our lives and don’t know what the hell you’re talking about when it comes to the pressures we face. This is why women of color don’t want to call themselves feminists and choose womanism or other movements. THIS refusal to hear us right here.

  • Kaya


  • I find it completely hilarious that you’re saying that MacFarlane shouldn’t be excused for the “We Saw your Boobs” song b/c it’s tasteless….but the tasteless tweeting of calling a 9 year old black girl “c*nt”, the same 9 year old who got tied into sexuality 2x in one night,…well, that’s ok b/c it’s satire!…So is the “We Saw Your Boobs” song. If you’re going to loosely defend one type of satire, you should defend both.

  • acd

    No. Serisouly jsut no. I used to think you were great. Now i’m just frustrated. EVEN THE ONION SAID IT WAS WRONG. I’m proably not gong to add to what other commenters have said any better but yeah.

  • Saddened

    Aww, someone thinks reverse racism is a real thing!

  • Lori S.

    Jesus Christ, there are plenty of *adults* who don’t get that the Onion is a satire site. We’ve seen it again and again.

  • Lori S.

    IOW, “I don’t like Seth McFarlane and I do like the Onion, so a priori one is unacceptable and the other one I will stand up to defend even when they cross the line.” Hooray?

  • MNOP

    Quick intersectionality hint: if there’s a person of color involved in the discussion, it’s always about race. Fail to recognize this at your peril. Peace out.

  • .

    Except you’re being a dumbass when insinuating racial undertones and screaming racism. Her being black has nothing to do with it and believing it does is just plain stupid.

  • Alyssa

    I understand that it was satire, and the intent behind it. I have no doubt that Quvenzhané Wallis will be able to get over said piece of satire which used her to make a point. My problem is that she shouldn’t have to. I think satire is great, fighting misogyny is great, but in this case the ends do not justify the means. The intent of The Onion to me is clear, but at what cost did it come? Another little black girl has to learn that despite how much talent and ambition she has, at the end of the day she’s the one who gets called a cunt as a joke.

    To you, race has nothing to do with it, but to many black women race has just as much to do with it as gender, if not more. At the end of the day the little girl who got called a cunt, even as a joke, wasn’t Dakota Fanning or Anna Paquin, or the dozens and dozens of white child stars or white nominees. It was the girl whose name the reporters refused to try and pronounce, the only woman of color nominated for anything big, one of only a handful a black child stars in history, and to them maybe it isn’t a coincidence. You say, well it just as easily COULD have been them. Black women say, well it wasn’t. It “just so happened” to be the the only black girl, and we think we know why because we have experienced this our entire life, and know this has historically always been the case.

    But their “allies”, white feminists, instead of trying to relate and understand their concerns, saying “you know, I never thought of it that way, but maybe you have a point. Maybe her being black did play into that comment being made using her vs any other actress ever in history, even if only in a quiet, subconscious way. That’s problematic, let’s address this issue together” instead tell them “No I think you’re reading too deeply into it, it was just a joke that sucked, race had nothing to do with it even though I admittedly wouldn’t know when multiple isms are at play as I have only ever had to deal with one. Still, I don’t need you to tell me when my lens of whiteness needs to be adjusted because I know better than you when something is racist, although I have never experienced racism and never will”.

    What black feminists learned from this incident, as they learn over and over, is that in the fight for all women, white feminists are willing to ignore their specific needs and feelings if is something white feminists cannot directly relate to. That as black feminists, they are expected to join the fight when white women need it, but when they are the target they gotta fend for themselves. When a little black girl is made into a martyr, white feminists will not defend her or tell The Onion “We get that it was satire, but it was inappropriate, inexcusable, and not defendable. End of story. Get your shit together Onion, we don’t throw women, especially our own daughters, under the bus to further our cause”. Some white feminists instead say”yeah it wasn’t the best move, but we get what you were going for, it doesn’t need to be a big deal…” leaving black women to continue to feel that white women only care about the struggles of black women when it is convenient to THEIR cause.

    So in the fight against misogyny what did this do beside teach a little black girl, and by extension all little black girls that they are subject to be the sacrificial lamb even if they don’t want to? What did it do beside turn black feminists and white feminists against each other? What did it do besides confirm the sentiments of racists/misogynists who didn’t get that it was satire because the joke fell THAT flat? Even if the intent was good, the reality was that the impact caused more harm than good, and only made it harder to fight misogyny in Hollywood. And we shouldn’t be up in arms at The Onion for inadvertently sabotaging the efforts of all feminists, why???

  • Accounting Ninja

    I really, really disagree with you here. 3 thoughts…

    1) It puts me in mind of an old Tiger Beatdown article on the perils of using misogyny as “satire”. Quoth Sady:

    “The issue here? The real, problematic issue? Is that ladies – and dudes! – read so many actual, serious articles, citing these exact same arguments, in language not that different from yours, that it’s actually difficult to pick up on the fact that it is a joke. Like, if I go to Clown University, and I’m surrounded by fully-clown-dressed clowns every day, the fact that I show up in clown makeup isn’t going to be funny. It just makes me indistinguishable from all the other clowns in the room…I really disagree with you here. 3 thoughts…
    1) It puts me in mind of an old Tiger Beatdown article on the perils of using misogyny as “satire”:

    “The issue here? The real, problematic issue? Is that ladies – and dudes! – read so many actual, serious articles, citing these exact same arguments, in language not that different from yours, that it’s actually difficult to pick up on the fact that it is a joke. Like, if I go to Clown University, and I’m surrounded by fully-clown-dressed clowns every day, the fact that I show up in clown makeup isn’t going to be funny. It just makes me indistinguishable from all the other clowns in the room…And, if somebody really hates clowns…and they decide they want to go to the Clown U campus and punch a clown in the face, they’re just as likely to punch me, the “ironic” clown, as they are to punch any of the other equally clown-looking clowns around me.

    What I am saying is: your article might not have come from a place of sexist intent, but it ended up reinforcing sexism, because of the cultural context surrounding it.

    Read the whole thing here: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2009/06/25/dear-john-john-devore-that-is/

    Anyway, when you use the language of the oppressor, without making apparent that it’s satire or a joke (or even if you do), you’re just adding to the cultural miasma that perpetuates this stuff. I don’t really see how you, who have spent many years unpacking why tired and offensive movie misogyny, even in “comedies” meant as “jokes”, can not recognize something like this for what it is. It is sexist, racist, and poorly done.

    2) This won’t do anything to highlight misogyny against adult women; people will still feel free to savage our woman celebrities.

    and 3) People don’t get the “joke”. Read the comments on any of the major sites covering this event, and you’ll see lots of misogyny and racism spewed in support of this shit. Everyone else was rightful angered. If this was indeed “satire”, it was so poorly done so as to be indistinguishable from actual racism/misogyny.”

  • Accounting Ninja

    Oops, editing FAIL. Sorry for the redundancy, folks.

  • KO

    What is the problem the boob song addressed?

  • sarah

    minute there starts being even vague sexual references to a NINE YEAR
    OLD CHILD, that’s disturbing and the shit should be FLATTENING the fan. It’s not funny, it’s not satire, it’s just abusive.

  • MT3377

    There’s no joke here. People already do think black little girls are cunts. White men slap 18 month old black babies while calling them nigger. And then the ensuing commentary is about how annoying crying babies are.

    There’s no irony in this supposed “joke” targeting Quvenzhané Wallis. That’s because there’s no reverence or protection given to children if they happen to be black, so the argument that “Oh, of course we know they’re not serious!” — that just doesn’t fly.

    We know that there are some white people who can’t empathize with a fictional little girl if that little girl happens to be black (as we saw with the reactions to the character in the Hunger Games). We know that little black children are sent home in police cars if they wear the wrong color shoes to school.

    You’re off base here. I don’t understand why you’re defending them while calling yourself a feminist. Their supposed intent is not a defense – the construction worker commenting on your breasts might say he intends a compliment, but you know what – who cares? He’s offensive and out of line. The same applies here.

    You’re blinded by your privilege. I don’t want your brand of feminism if a 9 year old girl has to be insulted to prove a point.

  • Dez

    I wasn’t offended by the fact that they said cunt in the tweet or that it was directed at a female. The part that got me was that it was directed to a 9-year old who (As Drave said a few days ago) is probably not old enough to understand the humor if she did see it. But it’s the onion. I laughed when I saw it and then I had to look up who the actress was.

  • You don’t really have the option of “saving” discussions on sexism till later when someone is calling you a cunt now.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Wait. I was reading along, disagreeing with most of what you said, but not planning on responding to anything until I got to this comment.

    Did you just say that a nine-year-old reading the Onion would recognize their comments as satire? I just …wow. Satire is (usually) first introduced in high school English classes and not every student gets it on the first try. Or the second one, for that matter.

    Just because she sees people discussing/debating it doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt her. Kids that age do not have the defenses built up to the same degree as they will as adults. They often internalize negative comments. How many adults do you know that 10, 15, 20 years after high school still remember hurtful comments, intentional and unintentional ones, from when they were six, seven or eight years older than Quvenzhane’ is right now?

    Full disclosure – I am a black woman who was introduced to racism, sexism and sexuality much, much sooner than I was ready to deal with, and I am the mother of a young black woman who dealt with racism and sexism much sooner than I would have liked (which, of course, would have been never). In fact, I got called a “c*nt” on FB yesterday when I suggested that maybe people were missing something. But my default position has never been, “well, I’ve dealt with misogyny and discrimination all of my life so no big deal – other girls and women will make it through.” I try to stand up/speak out against microaggressions, blatant instances of injustice and discrimination, emotional abuse or physical violence, with the hope that future generations won’t have to endure the same level of harm.

    The Onion has more than four million followers on Twitter. To make it seem like it is the subsequent discussion that will give the comment its longevity rather than the tweeting of the comment to 4.6 million people around the world, seems disingenuous at best. That IS why organizations use Twitter, right? To spread their message to a large number of people? And they also hope that their message will then be retweeted and further increase the size of their audience?

    That present or future nine-year-old who googles her name? Instead of reading about an amazing night, perhaps a once in a lifetime event, she will have that accomplishment forever tainted by that word and the subsequent discussion, regardless of whether she understands the “haha-winkywink” behind it. Just like Sally Field’s “you really like me” and Bjork’s swan dress, the Onion’s comment will likely be tied to most future discussions of Quvenzhane’s Oscar night.

    Regardless of intent, regardless of whether the comment was misogynistic, racist, hilarious, or satirical, to me, that blemish is a problem. But if Quvenzhane’ reads or hears about it, now or later in life, you’re right that she’ll probably see that many people stood up for her and/or against comment, even if it she doesn’t know why and even if she sees that a lot of other people could have cared less. If the comment does hurt or offend her, maybe the public outcry in opposition to it will help a bit.

    And I hope that, even if the Onion doesn’t totally “get it” and they just apologized to save face, maybe the backlash will cause the next employee to think twice about whether a tweet contains any -isms that will affect the Onion’s audience.

    If there are any positive aspects to this whole debacle, I guess it’s those last two things.

  • That was Bjork who wore the swan dress, fwiw. Other than that, totally on point, IMO.

  • Caitlyn

    You do not make a point at the expense of a nine year-old girl.

  • I literally cannot believe you just typed out “I know it’s worse for black girls. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t terrible for white girls, too.”

    Replace “black girls” with “suicidal females” and “white girls” with “suicidal males” and think about all the bullshit posing as Male Right Advocacy that goes on with regard to women in gaming. And explain to me how this is NOT derailing. You need to check your privilege, MaryAnn.

  • Thanks for saying this.

  • majiang

    >feminist opinions

    “Intersectionality” AKA collective whining

    Who cares? It’s just a joke

  • Mistie Holler

    “The girl spent most of the time on the red carpet correcting douchebag ‘journalists’ how to pronounce her name and telling them her name is not ‘Annie'” – I think that was because she has an unusual name and journalists who couldn’t pronounce it thought ‘She’s only 9 – if I call her Annie/Little Q/Whatever instead of Quvenzhane, she won’t protest’. But of course, she stood up to them, which is awesome.

    “Seth makes her a punchline to a joke about Clooney” – But really, Clooney’s the punchline, Quvenzhane is referenced but she isn’t really the ‘butt of the joke’. Again, it’s her age that’s the factor here.

    “her night ends with her being called a cunt on a global platform” – but it’s because she’s an innocent, very cute little girl. Again, it’s her age that’s (supposedly) the reason why she was singled out.

    Seth MacFarlane is tasteless and offends pretty much everyone, the journalists were too lazy (as is so often the case) to find out how to pronounce her name (“It’s four syllables long!” I can hear them moan) and The Onion was just out to shock by insulting an adorable child.

    A poor night for a little girl, that’s for sure. It could of course be racist and I guess you’d know better than me (a white woman) what being on the receiving end of racism looks like. But there also seems to be a strong case that it was just a string of insensitive people using the fact that she’s 9 as the butt of their jokes.

    Also, I see your point about Willow Smith. However, she’s a celebrity’s kid, and celebrity’s kids often get criticism and disrespect because people perceive that they are only in the public eye because of their parents and therefore are fair game. Suri Cruise gets a lot of criticism, for example.

  • Except there have been several pre-teen white females as nominees in the crowd…& they get treated far differently. Their names are pronounced, interviewers treat them as ingenues not as novelties, & they aren’t sexualized in the name of comedy while at the Academy Awards.

    Do young Hollywood females get a lot of derision & brow-beating for everything from what they wear to who they’re photographed next to? Absolutely. No one is arguing that the Onion wanted to point out this mistreatment.

    But much as you said about the “We Saw Your Boobs” debacle…just b/c it’s intended to be tasteless doesn’t mean it should be allowed. The person who wrote that tweet is an adult who is aware of critical thinking & that words have consequence, no matter how the people who want to support lazy comedy try to pretend that a “joke” = I’m not being a jerk as long as I play it for laughs.

    It was wrong, it was a stupid choice, & they shouldn’t have done it. But they did, people were offended (as we have the right to be, you said) & they apologized b/c they realized it was wrong.

  • With reference to both jokes, the Clooney one as well as The Onion’s tweet; they both link a small child to a sexualized existence. It’s inappropriate & it wasn’t necessary. You want to joke that Clooney likes ’em young? Do so but you don’t have to specifically pull out a small child onto display for it.

    Also? Clooney’s feelings were respected. MacFarlane made sure it was all done w/ a wink to Clooney & a bottle of champagne & a no hard feelings…What do you think Quvenzhane got? Oh right, she got called a “c*nt” by another adult. More sexualized humour.

    Suri Cruise gets criticism? No, people criticize Suri’s parents for what they allow her to do. No one is calling Suri Cruise a c*nt. They aren’t hurling that kind of language at little white girls who can’t fight back. They save that for when they’re old enough to start displaying their sexuality on their own, it’s not foisted upon them like it was to Quvenzhane.

  • 1) We aware that they intended it as satire…still doesn’t make it right or make them free from the consequences.

    2) How is that relevant? “Little Kids curse…so it’s ok to call them names?” They also may hear it discussed at school, see it on the news while watching it with their parents, see it in the news their parent is reading. Children are not walking through life deaf, dumb, & blind.
    If you think children are constantly cursing behind our backs, why wouldn’t they be able to get on Twitter? What does one have to do w/ the other or w/ the article above?

    Nothing. Your argument is a strawman & it’s already on fire.

  • soccerboyLA

    Well I think the boob song addressed a couple of problems. Seth’s excitement brings to mind the idea there’s no male equivalent to a woman showing her breasts. I’m reminded of an early episode of “Friends” where Chandler accidentally sees Rachel’s breasts and she demands to see his penis. I understood her character’s embarrassment and frustration, but it never sat well with me that we were supposed to agree that showing breasts is the same as showing a penis.

    More importantly, the song points out it’s pretty clear that Hollywood (and maybe audiences as well) demands female nudity far more than male nudity. That actresses, many while at the top of their game, feel it necessary to bare their breasts in order to stay relevant. Halle Berry, Charlize Theròn and Kate Winslet all went topless in the roles that won them their Oscars. Even Meryl Streep did it. Meryl Streep!

    I think that’s why Seth used the Los Angeles Gay Male’s chorus – to add a level of absurdity to help drive his point home.

    I was also reminded of David Mamet’s “State and Main.” Which is a movie about people shooting a movie. There, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character is an actress playing a nun, and a major plot point is when the actress gets asked to go topless. That existence – and I may be reaching here – suggests to me that we really have thought about this before and it’s ripe for lampooning.

    What’s also disconcerting to me is I can’t even remember the last time I saw male nudity in a movie. But I can remember a couple of years ago when Jennifer Aniston got press for shooting a topless scene for her movie “Wanderlust,” and the scene itself was omitted in the final cut! What does this say about Hollywood? What does this say about its audience/ourselves?

    That’s what I was thinking about when Seth was singing so gleefully. I was smiling, laughing, and nodding my head while saying “He’s so right.”

  • Mmm. For some reason I waded through tons of comments from people screaming “It’s about race!” like idiots, and finally I’ve been rewarded by getting to here. I understand why people who have to put up with this rubbish on a daily basis might not want to spend their time putting a bit of effort into constructing a few paragraphs to educate privileged white people like me, or the author, but surely it’s a more rewarding use of one’s time than saying “White people don’t get to say what’s about race!” The best response to ignorance is education.

    I’ve gone from basically agreeing with the author — “a really good biting joke, that they were right to pull because the collateral damage is too much” to “a joke that failed because it’s writer didn’t understand racial issues, issues which I now understand a little better”. I hope this comment gets more upvotes — right now almost everything appearing before it is nonsense.

  • Mistie Holler

    Probably true, but that would be because there wouldn’t be such an uproar for contrarians to react to. People would just say it was misguided, a few feminists would write a few blog posts, and that would be that. It’s a much bigger deal because of the implied racism.

  • mortadella

    I defintely think The Onion piece was making a show of how ridiculous and hateful certain commentors are in regards to female celebrities, but using a real child actor overshadowed their intention. Maybe basing the piece around an obviously fictitional celebrity would have been in order. Unfortunately, I’ve heard the c-word so often, I wasn’t shocked when I first read it. I just though, “Yeah, that sounds like something I’d read on ShitRedditSays.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Uh, Mary Ann. I remember the Olsen twin era. I agree that they were definitely sexualized, the grown men on Full House have commented on it many times. But it wasn’t when they were nine.

    For Anna P., Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Emma Watson and others, those “can’t wait ’til she’s legit, haha” comments became more frequent as they got closer and closer to 18. Because it’s generally known, even among the dudebros, that even a pseudo-sexual comment about a prepubescent child is off limits. Should sexist comments be off limits regardless of age? Absolutely. But the point is, even among those who really, really don’t get it, making a sexual comment about a little girl is usually a no-no. So in that way, the comment is shocking and unexpected, but in this case, is it hyperbolic? I think that’s a slightly different question.

    Although people differ about whether c**t is a bad word, most agree that it is offensive when used as an insult. And many people say it’s the worst of all insults to call a woman; it’s considered a “dirty” word. So whether I agree with either of those perspectives, or whether the Onion agrees, that is environment in which they threw out the comment. And the person likely chose that particular word for those very reasons. For the purpose of satire, the Onion chose what is commonly considered the most offensive word for a woman to describe the least-likely-to-be-a-c**t individual in the group. I get the thought process and the intent. I just think that (probably subconsciously) it was easier for the employee to make that comment about a little black girl. Which is kind of my point.

    They didn’t say that she was a “b**tch,” which would also have been insulting, but probably not considered satirical. A lot of people don’t like kids and/or considered precocious ones annoying, so that might not have come across as irony or any great exaggeration. The employee probably didn’t say “sexy” because while that would be considered “gross” and an unfortunate reflection of how some members of culture actually feel, it might not be received as funny. Plus, who would the Onion be deriding because general consensus is already anti-pedophile and George Clooney isn’t, as far as we know, a child-predator — so not much self-reflection required there.

    The Onion employee needed a more outrageous, but in some ways, safer choice. Something that would expose hypocrisy and superficiality of the Hollywood set and/or the people that admire them. The problem is that they took the “dirty word” for female genitalia and applied it to a young black girl, a member of a group (black girls) historically and currently considered dirty, f**kable and unrapeable.

    Seth McFarlane’s comment in relation to George Clooney, which I also found creeptastic, indirectly implied that she might be attractive to GC when she gets older. McFarlane was offensive and gross, but in what he probably thought was a “safe” way. It’s commonly known that GC likes women and he likes them young (but legal). So absolutely, it sexualized her in the same “wait a few years and you’re fair game” way that people used to do to Mary-Kate and Ashley. But SMF could make the argument that his target was GC, not Quvenzhane’. And had he been doing a stand-up routine in a convention center rather than on network TV, when McFarlane did the Helen Hunt piece, he probably would have said the rhyming word.

    The Onion had no such restraints and decided to continue his “humor” to its seeming intended end. They finished the joke for him (or took it a step farther) and sent it out to 4.6 million people. But it flew alone, without the context from which the comment originated. It might have sprung from the McFarlane song and other Oscar-related commentary, but sent by Twitter, the connection wasn’t an automatically obvious or a solid one.

    That comment, especially unaccompanied and unexplained, wasn’t enough of an exaggeration from the majority group’s current prejudices to be considered ironic. That’s one of the known limitations of Twitter; context can get lost with the 140-characters-or-less limit. Now take that unexplained tweet and send it out into a world that until very recently showed little if any interest in non-white children being sexualized and raped…and yeah….

    So, in my opinion, it failed as satire for the same reason that the Riva and Steward examples would not have worked. The dominant group, especially white males, have felt and to some degree still feel that way. In regard to black girls, that comment is not unexpected or shocking. It might be shocking to people that the Onion said it (out loud), but the idea that black girls are worth less, if not worthless? Not so far from commonly held beliefs. If you don’t think so, please go to a few of the blogs that have condemned the tweet and scroll through the readers’ responses.

    To me, the problem with the Onion’s tweet is similar to the reason given for why most rape jokes are just not funny. Most cultures around the world already either don’t take rape seriously, or somehow punish the victim. They already victim-blame and find reasons why the rapist isn’t fully culpable. People laugh at rape jokes because the scenarios described by the comedian are familiar, not because they find those concepts absurd. So a joke that doesn’t make it clear that the rapists’ perspective is F’d up, and that you’re not laughing at the victim, isn’t funny. For me, even then, rape jokes are not funny, but that’s an argument that has been made for when they can be.

    I think the Onion comment is an F- all the way around. In my opinion, it fails as humor, it fails as satire, it’s sexist and racist, and I find it offensive. Above all of that, though, it had obvious potential for harm. Any cost-benefits analysis I do says that sending that tweet was a bad decision. But then, my focus is the effect on Quvenzhane’ and society, not on how strong the Onion would subsquently trend on Twitter.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Majiang, I care. And as you’ve just demonstrated, I have to. Because I clearly can’t count on others to do so.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Yes! Thank you! I will correct that right now. I saw Bjork and the Dancer in the Dark movie in my head, but I was thinking of Bai Ling earlier because a friend was talking to me about Mindy McCready and Celebrity Rehab.

  • Matt

    No. It wouldn’t be intellectually funny, because it doesn’t intellectually work. That word gets used in a derogatory sense to describe any black person, whatever their attitude, behaviour or demeanour, or for that matter, age. There are certainly racists who would have used it the second she came on her screen.

    The point of using cunt with an adorable girl is that no one would say that about her. The joke hinges on the absurdity, and unlikelihood of the joke-teller’s view.

  • morejoy68

    This article makes white feminists look racist and insensitive. As a black feminist, I find it deeply disturbing. This so-called feminist would never have defended the use of this word if it had been directed at a little white girl. She would have been outraged. However, because it was directed at a little black girl, it didn’t bother her, and she actively defended it. That’s because she’s just as racist as the original tweeter; she doesn’t care how little black girls are represented or treated because she doesn’t see black girls as fully human and deserving of respect and protection like white children. I am a feminist too – a black feminist – and I was deeply offended on behalf of all little black girls and on behalf of ALL girls and women.

  • morejoy68

    Are you delusional? Do you think she’s not going to hear about this? Even if her parents keep her off the internet, do you think that nobody at her school is going to mention this to her. Somebody called her a vicious, sexualized name. Of course, it will hurt. You are pathologically insensitive.

  • morejoy68

    How do you know that there was no malicious intent? They called a little girl a terrible name. They knew it was malicious when they did it. They did it in order to be malicious. Maybe you cannot sympathize with her because she’s black and you cannot identify with a black girl. Is that what is going on here? Your lack of empathy is so shocking that I have to wonder if it is racially based.

  • met

    In agreement or not, I think it’s a thoughtful take on The Onion’s tweet, but how is the Boobs song — with the outrageous inclusion, yes, of Jodie Foster in The Accused — not a dumber version of the same joke?

  • morejoy68

    Thank you, MT3377, I am black and a feminist, and I share your sensibilities about this culture’s sense of absolute freedom to denigrate black children in ways that would never, ever be applied to white children. This is just one more example. The woman who wrote this article is racially ignorant and insensitive.

  • Chicagogo

    I’m pretty sure the satirical message of this joke isn’t that they chose a little girl to call a cunt because that was the most obviously over-the-top target. It seems they chose Quvenzhané because she is SO confident, she did not suffer fools when being interviewed. She would give them looks that said, “you cannot be serious” whenever she was asked a stupid question. And she was asked a LOT of stupid questions. Then you have her cheering for herself in the audience.

    And you *could* argue that people would have that reaction to any seemingly precocious little girl, no matter what her race. But let’s be adults. A healthy portion of the population still think black people who have healthy self-confidence are “uppity.” (See: white people’s response to the boastfulness of the rap culture.) Add to it most people like their actors modest and grateful, deflecting compliments because the majority of the public think acting isn’t really a job, and fame solves all your problems.

    There is a huge difference between being devalued as a gender and being the personal focus of a joke. Actors are continually subjected to criticisms for things wildly beyond their control.

  • smh

    Satire is meant to make you think and the only shocking part of it is the argument put forward. It doesn’t need “shocking” language to get its point across. If you can’t say you would make that joke AS IT WAS STATED then why would you defend it. This is such poor execution that someone should have been fired either way. Anyway, this article is trash yo…

  • Exactly. The person who wrote that tweet may have thought it was incongruous to use that name on a little girl, but–as you pointed out in these examples–it’s not. If it’s not incongruous, it’s not satire. It’s just piling up more abuse on someone who is already taking the brunt of our societal abuse.

  • morejoy68

    I am a black feminist, and I agree with every single word that you wrote. Bravo. This article was painfully disappointing.

  • morejoy68

    For this writer, iif the insult is directed at white women, then it is sexist and offensive, but it if it is directed at a little black girl, it’s satirical and hilarious.

  • morejoy68

    Wow, MaryAnn, do you really think that the attack on Wallis has nothing to do with the fact that she is a BLACK girl? I promise you that if she were a white girl, you wouldn’t be defending the onion, but you don’t have to because the onion has never done this to a white girl. You are so racially ignorant and insensitive that you think that only sexism directed at white women counts; if the sexism is directed against a woman of color you are incapable of recognizing either the harm OR the racial implications because you are incapable of identifying with us or understanding that we are women, too. You, also, seem incapable of understanding the basic principle that something can be racist AND sexist. You need to educate yourself. Start with Patricia Hill Collins’ book Black Feminist Thought. Nobody this racially ignorant about black women and other women of color should be calling herself a feminist.

  • Erin Wilson

    You are pathetic and despicable for defending this fuckery. You’re right, I do want you to turn in your feminist credentials. This is not ok NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT.

  • Chicagogo

    Not taking the first part at face value. People get the joke (well, most people, except the people who do think she’s exactly that).

    “So: Do you honestly think that everyone has been afraid to say this?”

    From Seth McFarlane’s “Loser” song at the bottom of the show:

    “Amy Adams, Jacki Weaver, Sally Field and Helen HUNT/
    Hathaway took away your Oscars/
    Don’t you think that girl’s…ADORABLE?”


  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    I love when people derp out in their responses cuz then you know it’s safe to ignore them.

  • Chicagogo

    I’d argue you haven’t had that word used against you in writing sent out to millions of people, and had hundreds of people favorite the joke and forward it onto their followers. Nor did you have the host of an awards show intimate it in the song he was gleefully singing about how you lost.

    Again, to an audience of tens of millions.

  • Accurate? Cunt is a gender-specific slur. How would that accurately describe MarFarlane, a man?

  • You can have a considered opinion, encounter rational adversaries making a persuasive argument, then adjust your position after hearing them out. Surely you aren’t saying that you are so resolute that no argument could remotely shift your perspective? That sounds remarkably closed-minded.

  • Chicagogo

    I would argue Kristen Stewart is “derided all over the Web during the broadcast for being insufficiently appreciative of the celebrity that has been granted her, as if it’s a boon she didn’t earn” not exclusively because she’s a woman. It’s also because she’s a pretty terrible actor. She’s the highest paid female actor in film lately, too. I agree she’s attacked a lot more fervently because she’s a woman. But in terms of being unworthy, you can’t discount this element.

  • “Bitch” would have been way worse. It’s not shocking enough, and would have fallen completely short of satire, regardless of whether you think ‘cunt’ did or not.

  • When I think of 9 year old girls the words that come to mind aren’t “fierce” and “strong.” But then I’m not trying to project my adult expectations onto children, either.

  • I really hope I don’t come across as suggesting they should have just called her a “bitch” and everything would have been fine. I was only using that comparison to show the difference in the weight of the word “cunt.” I don’t think they should have been calling her any derogatory words.

  • Saddened


    I recommend that you read this so that you can better understand why this issue is about race and the belittlement of women of color for the benefit of white women.

  • igetit

    no, the joke didn’t fail because it had to be explained. it had to be explained only because the people who didn’t get it were FAR MORE VOCAL about not getting it than the ones who did. While no one is quoting the retweets from the people who got it, they are quoting random people who took to twitter (where the real thinkers go for serious discourse) to express the outrage which no one should have cared about.

    the joke didn’t fail at all. the joke was funny and biting. The joke worked precisely because it did all the things you said it did.

    -It had to use the word “cunt” because “bitch” would not have worked, because “cunt” is “the worst word” and yet gets thrown around very carelessly and frequently.

    -The perspective (PERSPECTIVE, as in NOT THE THOUGHTS OF THE WRITER OR THE OPINION OF THE ONION ITSELF) had to target Quvenzhane Wallis because it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else, because she was the most innocent and least likely to be the target, and it worked BECAUSE she was so OBVIOUSLY not what the perspective said she was

    -Wallis was the YOUNGEST and most INNOCENT. To say anything beyond that is absurd. She happens to be black. It’s funny precisely BECAUSE she’s a child. This was in no way connected to the sexualization or the sexual abuse of children, nor did have anything to do with the fact that african american women are frequently the victims and subject of particularly harsh abuse, apparently pertaining to the word “cunt,” which I was not aware of, but more importantly, plays no part in the joke.

    This joke would have been exactly the same and worked the same way had it been written during the Oscar’s when Anna Paquin was nominated. The outrage and backlash would have been different not just because she is white, but mostly because we didn’t have Twitter making sure the disapproving voices of the idiots who didn’t get the joke dictate the content of an established comedy institution. Not that no one’s voice should be heard or that products or publications shouldn’t ever listen to dissenting voices or feedback, but this was ridiculous.


  • itgetit

    this is such an irresponsible hodge podge of 101 theories that it sounds like the flimsy thesis statement and intro paragraph of a college freshman’s term paper in gender studies and popular culture.

    Did you even read the part of the dictionary you were quoting? You couldn’t find proper evidence for your theory in the definition, so you went to the citing of the term “cunt-struck” to prove its “sexualization”, a term that no one has used in forever, and would be just as effective as citing the use of “pussy-whipped” to prove that “pussy” is a sexualized term.

    WE KNOW THAT CUNT MEANS VAGINA. and Bitch literally means female dog. And pussy means vagina. and every word for women has been sexualized, or rather simply IS sexual – not has been, just is. ESPECIALLY those words that literally mean vagina.


    Your parenthetical mention of how she was the only person of color nominated HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. You can’t drag that into it.

    Doesn’t anyone see how making an issue of race and color when there isn’t one to be made brings far more racial and racist implications than it would be if you hadn’t at all. To assume and infer racism where racism is not evident shows racism on the part of the person assuming/inferring it.

    Yes, black women are sexualized. Yes, all women are sexualized. You’re really going to bring slavery into this? and you’re going to precede it by saying “not to mention”???

    I’m speaking as a feminist, by the way, not to mention one who knows and understands all of what you and everyone else is saying about women and african american women and sexism and racism, generally speaking. BUT THIS IS NOT A CASE WHERE IT APPLIES.

    “CUNT” IS NOT SOLELY TIED DIRECTLY TO BLACK WOMEN. And part of the primary target of the joke was the culture in which “cunt” is tossed around for all sorts of purproses, attached to all sorts of women, and used to demean all sorts of women by all sorts of other people.

    This is the reason why the word was chosen, and there is a reason why a 9 year old black girl was chosen as the subject.

    Just because YOU think the word is TOO TIED to hatred and sexualized violence against women, specifically black women, doesn’t make it the only use or meaning in the word. It’s also just a very popular mean word to call a female. And here it is being used, and it is being used from the perspective of someone who would possibly think to use it on a 9 year old african american actress. THE JOKE IS ON THE PERSON TWEETING AND EVERYONE ELSE AND NOT ON THE GIRL. And he race had nothing to do with it!

    It’s just too bad The Onion didn’t consult everyone and take a poll to figure out what the meaning of the word “cunt” is for each and every person, and instead chose to go with the popular meaning and usage.

    If everyone writing posts like the one above could just write “i admit i did not and still don’t get the joke, and so this is how i feel about it…” then that would be much closer to what this is all about.

  • igetit

    *one correction: what you said was not a mix of “theories” – that stuff is true, in general, and i shouldn’t have said “theories” as if it’s an unproven speculation. i meant it more as thought, thought that you’re using incorrectly to back your own theory about how the use of the word cunt and the race of the child pertain to the joke

  • igetit

    is this a serious response? Is this really where we are as a culture, where we’re actually saying “do you want to be the one to explain to that young women how the joke wasn’t about her?” YES. FINE. WHY NOT?

    It’s very simple. “Honey, the joke wasn’t about you. it’s something called irony, and it means that you’re adorable and that the person making the joke is mean.”



    Your 13 year old is not pretty clever if she wouldn’t understand this.

    Can anyone actually answer this question: Who cares if she sees it?

    Since when did the entire world become personally invested in the hurt feelings of anyone? If Wallis is googling herself, which she shouldn’t be allowed to do but probably will, she’s probably going to find a lot worse on there than this onion tweet which I bet she’d never see.

    WHAT PEOPLE ARE NOT REALIZING is that this was not an Onion headline, it was a live tweet. I have a hard time believing she would have easily found that tweet without some research, pre-media firestorm. If it was allowed to just go by in the free stream of Onion live tweets – one of VERY MANY, and one of man, MANY about Wallis and one of VERY VERY MANY about the Oscars – i’m wiliing to bet it would have all but disappeared (yes of course i know it will still be on the internet)

    but I’ll tell ya something, SHE’S DEFINITELY GOING TO SEE IT NOW! AND IT WILL DEFINITELY HAVE TO BE EXPLAINED TO HER! and it’s all because of people like you. It’s because TWITTER is now taken seriously, even though it is just as valid as this comment board, which should not be valid at all and should not change anything. Because someone like you voiced this kind of opinion on Twitter because they did not get the joke and let their personal opinions and biases got in the way of freedom of speech, COMPLETELY MISCONSTRUING a joke of little consequence, and creating a situation in which your apparent worst nightmare is true.

    BECAUSE OF COMMENTS LIKE THIS, YOU MADE THAT TWEET SOMETHING THIS GIRL WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ESCAPE. SO GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. I’m sure nothing whatsoever has changed for you, as it has for Wallis, and everyone else, because ultimately


  • why

    dont you get it? why should they be off limits? WHY? really, why? what else should be off limits? could everyone please submit their list of off limits topics.

  • youjustdontgetit

    this is incredible that i even have to say this, but let’s be clear please:


    they did not. they did not do that. that’s not what they did.

    The Onion is not the voice of a real person or thing. The Onion is not real in that sense. it is fake. its aim is to skewer and lampoon through satire which often takes common situations and twists or juxtaposes them with the extreme. it is absurd. it’s a fake newspaper and this was a fake live tweeting. and in the fake tweet was a joke, and that joke was from the perspective of someone who was so catty and superficial and so quick to insult and degrade women, specifically celebrity women in competition with one another, that they do not curb that sensibility at all, and would apply it to a child, who is OBVIOUSLY and CLEARLY the most innocent and least deserving of any kind of talk like that whatsoever (not that anyone is, but the point is that she’s so far removed because she’s not a celebrity and she’s not an adult).

    i can’t believe i have to explain what The Onion is and what satire is, but i think you people just don’t get it.

  • First of all how does pointing out that my ideas are “thought that you’re using [you say incorrectly, but I’ll get to that in a moment] to back your own theory about how the use of the word cunt and the race of the child pertain to the joke” prove anything?

    Yes. I do use my thoughts and theories to back up my ideas. That’s what criticism and analysis is. The fact that you disagree with my theory does not make me “incorrect” in any objective sense. Obviously, you disagree, and I can argue with those points, but the arguments I make are just going to be “thoughts to back up my ideas” just like your thoughts are meant to back up your ideas. That’s one of the most bizarre “criticisms” I’ve ever gotten (“how dare you use your thoughts to say things!”)

    You say “CUNT” IS NOT SOLELY TIED DIRECTLY TO BLACK WOMEN.” and I NEVER said that it was. I said that “cunt” was sexualized, moreso than other derogatory terms for women, and that black women are more often sexualized in our culture than white women.

    This seems to be the point that you are contending as you say “Yes, black women are sexualized. Yes, all women are sexualized.” Yes, all women are sexualized, but black women have been sexualized more often and more violently in our culture. You can say I’m just “using my thoughts” but I’m also using my observations of both historical and contemporary interactions.

    On top of that LITTLE GIRLS are sexualized all the time in our culture. Toddlers in Tiaras is so popular that it got a spin-off and Seth MacFarlane made a joke sexualizing Wallis when he called her young enough for George Clooney that very night.

    My point is that “cunt”‘s specifically sexual connotation intersect with Wallis’ age, race, and gender. Sure, you can say those are just my “thoughts,” but so is anything you write, so is this original article, and so is any utterance of communication that isn’t based solely on statements of fact (and even then, it’s just my “thoughts” that let me put them together that way). Just because I think it and you disagree doesn’t make it nonsense, and it’s clear from the reaction to this tweet that I’m not the only one who has these thoughts.

  • And I have to add that I’m a white woman who has in the past been somewhat critical of the racial tension in the feminist movement. I would hear women of color saying that they didn’t feel welcome in feminism and feel confused, thinking surely they’d just met one individual who wasn’t recognizing racism due to some personal blind spot but that a movement based on equality that spends so much time talking about privilege and oppression would surely not be blind to the white privilege and racial oppression, but the more time I’ve spent doing work in the feminist community, the more I see that I was wrong.

    I am embarrassed by many of the “feminist” responses to this “joke.” Social justice only when it impacts me personally is not social justice at all, and this is not representative of the feminism I hold and value.

  • michael

    I disagree with your assesment of MacFarlane’s Boob song. He deftly points out how in Hollywood a woman has literally NO CHANCE for an Oscar nod without first showing the world what she’s got under her shirt. I say Bravo! If he wrote a song about male Oscar winners who’ve showed their penises, he song would have exactly one line: Harvey Keitel, we saw your cock. Whoops I’m wrong, Harvey was only ever nominated.

  • Mistie Holler

    I don’t believe that the Clooney joke was intended to sexualise Quvenzhane, though. It drew attention to the fact that she is too young to be considered sexual, it didn’t make her sexual. That’s the joke. It came from someone who has been under fire for all the insensitive, harsh jokes he made at people’s expense all night. I don’t see any reason to call ‘racism’ on that joke, nor ‘sexism’. It was just insensitive and inappropriate.

    “Clooney’s feelings were respected. MacFarlane made sure it was all done w/ a wink to Clooney & a bottle of champagne & a no hard feelings…What do you think Quvenzhane got?”

    Clooney was still very much the target. I don’t know that Clooney got a bottle of champagne (or even a nod and a wink – I didn’t see that) but we don’t know if MacFarlane spoke to Quvenzhane’s parents afterwards, or got her a (non-alcoholic) drink or whatever. It doesn’t make sense to speculate on that matter. The fact remains that Clooney was the butt of the joke.

    You’re right that no one calls Suri Cruise a c*nt, but then I didn’t argue that they did; I said that if Willow Smith gets criticism, it’s likely to be because she is a celebrity kid, and celebrity kids get criticised, and I used Suri as an example of that. They especially get criticised when they launch their own careers as Willow has done.

    “No one calls Suri Cruise a c*nt” doesn’t really stand as an argument, either, because no one intended to **actually** call Quvenzhane a c*nt; nobody was saying that yes, Quvenzhane IS a c*nt. Suri Cruise gets SERIOUSLY called a spoilt brat, a diva, etc etc but she doesn’t SERIOUSLY get called a c*nt – but neither does Quvenzhane. If anything, the tweet was sort of like saying she is so cute she’s the Anti-c*nt. It wouldn’t have ‘worked’ if Suri was the target, even if she had been present at the Oscars ceremony, because a lot of people think of her as a brat who’s going to grow into a really f*cked up, horrible person (thanks to her parents). Quvenzhane, on the other hand, is a formerly unknown newcomer to Hollywood who looked and acted adorably, and everyone is just eager to see her star rise.

    If we’re going to consider which other kids have been called c*nts in order to assess whether racism was present in the tweet, then I can think of two other kids who have been called terrible names in jest. They’re both white. They’re also both Louis CK’s kids. He once referred to his baby daughter as ‘kind of c*nty’ and I’ve heard him refer to her as an a**hole. The joke is in holding a blameless child to adult standards and using terms that should never apply to children. I think that’s the idea behind the Onion tweet. It’s stupid, college humor.

    I don’t want to go on defending MacFarlane’s Clooney joke, or The Onion’s tweet, or the idiot reporters, because I think we can all agree that it was all very distasteful. I’m a long way from being convinced the tweet was racist, but it was clearly racially insensitive, since it has stirred up so many accusations of racism.

    I understand that people aren’t looking at each of these events in isolation; they’re saying, well, if someone gets re-named, gets called a c*nt and is inappropriately sexualised all in one Oscars evening, we have to wonder what’s up and why she, in particular, has been targtted. But her race isn’t the only possible defining factor here; her age is the other one, and to me, that’s the more obvious, less insidious interpretation.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Yep, it was definitely the numerous blogs that responded to the tweet (10, 15, 20, 50?) that are causing this issue to be so widely known. Not the fact that the Onion sent the message out to 4.6 million people. And certainly, no blame should be ascribed to the Onion for sending the tweet in the first place, even though there be no reaction without the action.

    And “who cares” anyway, right? I mean, on one hand, you’re saying that soooo many people responded to the comment that Quvenzhane’ will definitely see it because of “us.” But then you subsequently ask “who cares”? Well, according to you enough people that now Quvenzhane’ “won’t be able to escape” it.

    So which is it? Do individual opinions matter more? If so, my thinking this is an issue worth addressing = your opinion that it is no big deal. If it’s majority rule, then by all accounts including yours, more people responded by speaking out against it (to varying degrees and with varying reasons) than in support of it.

    And by the way, since you’re against “PC Censorship,” I’m sure you’ll agree that the people who were offended by the tweet have just as much right to free speech as the Onion and the people who are okay with the comment. Because that’s how free speech works, right? The Onion disseminates information for public consumption and everyone in the general public has an equal right to respond?

    It sounds more like you’re saying that because you don’t care and you don’t think the comment was a big deal, those of us who do care, shouldn’t and we should be quiet even if we do. Sorry, you don’t get to tell me what I and/or others should care about. Nor do you get to dictate to me or anyone else when an issue is important enough to respond to.

  • NoLongerSilent

    “Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom
    of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.”

    The Constitution, the Supreme Court and this general citizen
    all say “HI” right back.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Hi. I’m Buzzloves.

    I have no background in gender studies or else I would recognize and understand the alternate spelling of the word “woman.” If by some chance I do know the history behind and the usual purpose of using the word “womyn,” I’m still going to be mocking and disrespectful about its usage.

    I have minimal understanding of the Constitution and the concept of free speech because even though I’ve expressed my own disagreement about what constitutes humor and satire and what is worth arguing about, and even though I have called others “buffoons” and SMF a “jackass” on this very board, I don’t think other people can express their disagreement, frustration or exasperation in a public forum unless they do so nicely.

    I am oblivious to the concerns of disabled persons and their allies who have repeatedly stated that the word “retarded” is offensive.

    I am also oblivious to my own male privilege and the concept of white privilege, which may or not apply to me personally. I have demonstrated this privilege by engaging in all of the typical MRA techniques, including but not limited to: mansplaining and saying or indirectly implying that the marginalized group is obtuse (“you just don’t get it”), overemotional, oversensitive/easily offended, and hostile/unnecessarily aggressive.

    If I were an ally to women and people of color, I could easily demonstrate that by listening to their concerns and experience, then taking a moment to reflect on what they say, you know, on the off chance that I might be missing something. I could also pursue my commitment to equality by using the same fingers that type disrespectful and condescending comments to type “feminism 101” or “intersectionality” into Google and see what I find. Maybe I’d even review the search results containing articles, research and reports from people who’ve spent their entire lives and/or careers researching, studying and living the very issues that I have the privilege of dismissing as unimportant. Then I could come back to this space with some amount of self-awareness and represent myself accordingly.

    Naaah, why would I do that? My opinion and perspective is right…because I say it is. Just accept that I know what I’m talking about and you don’t. OMG, would you guys please stop all this bitching and whining?!

  • Bracken

    I’m trying to avoid most of this argument, but I feel compelled to point out that you used ‘theories’ correctly there. A theory isn’t unproven speculation – it’s pretty much as definite as any scientist can ever get (barring weird exceptional things like CoE, but tangent). A theory can be as definite as gravity, evolution or the structure of an atom. It’s just unfortunate that ‘theory’ tends to get mixed up with ‘hypothesis’ (unproven speculation).

  • You are right on, Michelle. Privilege and Oppression are not mutually exclusive and those with power are forever trying to protect it, be it consciously or subconsciously. I keep reading the “but it was satire’ defense for both Seth MacFarlane and The Onion tweet, but when the language comes from a person of privilege, it negates any social commentary they may – or may not – be making.


  • Mistie Holler

    …my response seems to have not posted, perhaps because it was too long. So I’m going to re-post it in two parts.

    I don’t believe that the Clooney joke was intended to sexualise Quvenzhane, though. It drew attention to the fact that she is too young to be considered sexual, it didn’t make her sexual. That’s the joke. It came from someone who has been under fire for all the insensitive, harsh jokes he made at people’s expense all night. I don’t see any reason to call ‘racism’ on that joke, nor ‘sexism’. It was just insensitive and inappropriate.

    “Clooney’s feelings were respected. MacFarlane made sure it was all done w/ a wink to Clooney & a bottle of champagne & a no hard feelings…What do you think Quvenzhane got?”

    Clooney was still very much the target. I don’t know that Clooney got a bottle of champagne (or even a nod and a wink – I didn’t see that) but we don’t know if MacFarlane spoke to Quvenzhane’s parents afterwards, or got her a (non-alcoholic) drink or whatever. It doesn’t make sense to speculate on that matter. The fact remains that Clooney was the butt of the joke.

    You’re right that no one calls Suri Cruise a c*nt, but then I didn’t argue that they did; I said that if Willow Smith gets criticism, it’s likely to be because she is a celebrity kid, and celebrity kids get criticised, and I used Suri as an example of that. They especially get criticised when they launch their own careers as Willow has done…

  • Mistie Holler

    “No one calls Suri Cruise a c*nt” doesn’t really stand as an argument, either, because no one intended to **actually** call Quvenzhane a c*nt; nobody was saying that yes, Quvenzhane IS a c*nt. Suri Cruise gets SERIOUSLY called a spoilt brat, a diva, etc etc but she doesn’t SERIOUSLY get called a c*nt – but neither does Quvenzhane. If anything, the tweet was sort of like saying she is so cute she’s the Anti-c*nt. It wouldn’t have ‘worked’ if Suri was the target, even if she had been present at the Oscars ceremony, because a lot of people think of her as a brat who’s going to grow into a really f*cked up, horrible person (thanks to her parents). Quvenzhane, on the other hand, is a formerly unknown newcomer to Hollywood who looked and acted adorably, and everyone is just eager to see her star rise.

    If we’re going to consider which other kids have been called c*nts in order to assess whether racism was present in the tweet, then I can think of two other kids who have been called terrible names in jest. They’re both white. They’re also both Louis CK’s kids. He once referred to his baby daughter as ‘kind of c*nty’ and I’ve heard him refer to her as an a**hole. The joke is in holding a blameless child to adult standards and using terms that should never apply to children. I think that’s the idea behind the Onion tweet. It’s stupid, college humor.

    I don’t want to go on defending MacFarlane’s Clooney joke, or The Onion’s tweet, or the idiot reporters, because I think we can all agree that it was all very distasteful. I’m a long way from being convinced the tweet was racist, but it was clearly racially insensitive, since it has stirred up so many accusations of racism.

    I understand that people aren’t looking at each of these events in isolation; they’re saying, well, if someone gets re-named, gets called a c*nt and is inappropriately sexualised all in one Oscars evening, we have to wonder what’s up and why she, in particular, has been targtted. But her race isn’t the only possible defining factor here; her age is the other one, and to me, that’s the more obvious, less insidious interpretation.

  • KO

    Your analysis seems more well-thought out than the song was. It just didn’t work for me on this level, partially because of how slut-shaming it felt: Jennifer Lawrence is amped because no one’s seen her boobs! Plus the song doesn’t really do anything to highlight the fact that there isn’t really an equivalent for dudes? Gay dudes often feel entitled to touch boobs, so that doesn’t really feel like it’s making absurd. Plus the fact that some of the boob-showing scenes referenced were rape scenes make it extra skeevy to me and kind of undermines the point which you’re attributing to it, that breast showing is gratuitous (I think that’s what he was going for?). There’s just not a lot of critique, he’s literally just singing about boobs. If you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, okay, but I think the bit would have worked a lot better if it had just been like a 20 second clip.

  • Ok there Precious, you obviously haven’t read any of the comments above…. LOLZ

  • KO

    Jennifer Lawrence won that night and was specifically mentioned as someone who hadn’t shown her boobs. Weird.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    First off, I’m just going to assume your cat is sitting on your computer desk and is occasionally leaning in your shift key. It’s the only reasonable explanation I can see for the random capitalization of entire words.

    Second, nice to finally hear from the “Who cares” crowd. No internet thread is complete without the presence of a nihilist contingent. What I don’t get is why you care so much that other people care.

    Third: censorship. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    Forth, know how I know you don’t have kids? Or work with kids? Or spend any time around kids? Of course, I could be wrong, but that would just mean that you’re really, really shitty at dealing with kids.

  • MT3377

    Black children are not viewed as sweet and innocent by this society, though.

  • MT3377

    In your own words, a similar tweet about Jennifer Lawrence “wouldn’t be satire. It would be the reality of what too many people think and aren’t afraid to say publicly and for all eternity on the never-forgetting Internet.”

    But wait. People aren’t afraid to say on the internet that they can’t feel empathy about a fictional little black girl dying in their favorite little pre-teen book. People aren’t afraid to call a world-class gymnast ungrateful and lying and grasping because she talks about racism she has experienced. When they hear the story of a little black baby being slapped, people aren’t afraid to first voice their assumptions that his mother is “just tryin to get that lawsuit money because you know she’s unmarried” … before they find out the mother is white. Then the conversation turns to how annoying crying babies are, and it doesn’t matter anyway that the assailant was racist.

    What you can’t see is that Quvenzhane is an inappropriate target for the joke as well. It’s not ironic.

  • Friday Foster-ABWW

    Essays like this one is the reason why there has and continues to be a gap between white feminists and black ones.

  • Um yes the onion did fucking call a 9 year old girl a cunt. Jesus can you read? I don’t care how satirical they intended it to be. Your argument fails because 9 year old girl. Real human being whose sense of self is still developing, has never known a time without smart phones abd obviously will read that piece of shit attempt at satire. Done. No more to say. Over.

  • You seem to be under the impression that all children have the same tough hide that you apparently do. Children commit suicide for much less. Hell, she was called a cunt to millions of people. So, honestly, sticking yourself into the situation does nothing for your validity.

    Also, I have 14 year old sisters that wouldn’t understand that they weren’t the point of that tweet. They would take it as it says. Fyi, I don’t know a thing about the onion. Frankly, I don’t really want to now.

  • No of course not. There’s war, poverty, rape— terrible things in the news ad nauseum, every day. So following your logic, because there are terrible things kids are exposed to, we shouldn’t show any restraint at all? Fuck it, she’s going to see some nasty shit, so let’s call her a cunt to make a point.

    Or we could be adult human beings, step back and look at the context of a fucking tweet and say, “nah.”

  • You’re not wrong here. But perhaps I was not clear enough. The degradation of women of all colors happens in mainstream media on a regular basis, as women are reduced to their bodies and the perception of their fuckability (or lack thereof) to the straight white men who run the mainstream media and dictate — if often only indirectly — the storylines it disseminates (by which I mean not just actual fictional stories themselves but also which fictional stories are considered appropriate for mass consumption, which stories are “news” and which are not, and so on).

    Yes, random people on Twitter and Facebook and the commenters on mainstream news sites do often say the most hideously racist (and sexist) things. There’s no excuse for that, and I don’t know how those people live with themselves.

    But I will continue to maintain that *as I saw it* (and, secondarily, as I think the Onion tweet writer saw it), I don’t think Wallis was the target of that tweet, but that the target was the cultural zeitgeist *as represented by the mainstream media* (which is the Onion’s overall target) perpetuated by the mainstream media that says it is okay to pick on *all* women. Because we’re women. Whatever color we are.

    In this whole big mess, I’ve seen Wallis primarily as a female person regardless of the color of her skin. I know she’s black. But I also know she’s getting special shit because she’s a girl.

    I had thought I’d made it perfectly plain in my post that I knew that not everyone would agree with me. I’m also not excusing the Onion. But I do think there’s a world a difference between someone who is deliberately hateful and someone who tries to make a good point and does it badly.

    I also wonder, too: Should we never make a satirical point if there’s a chance that some tiny minorority of idiots might not see it as satirical? How would we ever be able to do satire?

  • I would generally agree with you. But she demonstrated otherwise just on Oscar night alone.

  • Lots of men are terrible actors. And they don’t get the same treatment.

  • Who shall I turn my feminist credentials in to? Give me an address.

  • My article makes all white feminists look racist and insensitive? How is that even possible?

    Look, call me racist and insensitive if you want. You can even call me “white” like that’s an insult, if you want. But for you to claim that one post by one person tarnishes an entire group of people makes me suspect that you are unable to seen even the broadest sort of nuance (if that itself isn’t contradictory).

    And yes, for the record, all other things being equal, if a nine-year-old white female Oscar nominee was mentioned in that tweet, I would have said much the same thing about it. (I could have deleted all the caveats about race, but that would be the only difference.)

  • Could a fictional celebrity have anywhere near the same impact?

  • Why did you find it funny if you didn’t know who the actress was? Is it just generally funny to you when women are called “cunts”?

  • No, it’s that the contexts were different. All other things being equal, if a white nine-year-old female Oscar nominee were named in that tweet, I’d have said much the same thing about it.

  • It would be by me.

  • I promise you that if she were a white girl, you wouldn’t be defending the onion

    I promise you that I would.

  • Care to explain?

  • I guess the downvotes mean that I am not, in fact, allowed to have an opinion on this.

  • You’re seriously blaming *me* for the Onion’s tweet and all the outrage that followed, because I responded to stuff that would all be findable by future Google whether I’d written a damn word about it or not?

  • At the 2005 Golden Globes (on the red carpet), Kathy Griffin made a joke about then 10-year-old Dakota Fanning having just come from rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. Now, that’s not a sexualized joke, but it is clearly a jab at how glibly we treat the mocking by the media of young women celebs.

    Was Dakota Fanning treated like an ingenue there?

  • I’m perfectly well aware of my privilege. But it sounds to me as if you’re saying that as long as thing as worse for black girls and women, we’re not allowed to talk about how bad things are (if slightly less bad) for white girls and women.

    Honestly, I’ve been saying all along that things suck for all women of all colors. Is that wrong?

  • No, I’m not saying that. Are you saying that I must have been so ignorant before I formulated by opinion that I can be easily persuaded that I was wrong?

  • Well, how to do propose that unsupervised kids be protected from hearing about war, poverty, and rape online?

    How do you proposed that little girls be protected from little boys calling them bitches on the playground?

    We need to heal our culture. As far as I could see — and still can see — the point of the Onion’s tweet was about highlighting how sick our culture.

  • If you have nothing constructive to add, please don’t comment here.

    Just as there’s no such thing as “just a movie,” there’s no such thing as “just a joke.”

  • NoLongerSilent

    Yeah. The “pathetic and despicable” part doesn’t feel so good to me. You are entitled to your opinion. Clearly and with no question. But I feel like I have to speak out in defense of MaryAnn in this instance (even though she is more than capable of standing up for herself). For while I strongly disagree with MaryAnn’s position and was rather hurt by it, I am also equally opposed to policing another woman’s feminism.

    I, too, am disappointed in MaryAnn;s response because I want to consider her an ally. I think that if she, as a feminist, wants non-feminist men to listen and understand that they may not see something because of their privilege, she, as a non-POC, should listen (really listen and consider, not just say “ok, but I don’t see it”) when people of color are explaining their experience with racism to her.

    BUT, that said, I don’t know that ad hominem attacks are helpful. I can’t as a feminist who wants respect for women, be okay with disrespect toward another woman. I really try to be womanist and humanist, but I also know that, as a human, especially when I feel like I’m not being heard or respected, I can be rather insulting.

    Which now that I think of it, I need to go back and review a rather mocking comment I left in response to another reader yesterday….

    I share your anger about the comment, though. To me, the question is not “did the tweeter (twitterer?) intend the comment to be satirical”? I think the question is, “Given how young black girls are viewed and treated in American culture, and given the fact that messages sent through Twitter often lose their context, especially as they are retweeted, would the recipients of the message understand it as satire?” Especially because people, most notably white men/politicians, intentionally say really crappy things, and later try to claim they were joking or being facetious. And also, because I believe in both the “first do no harm” philosophy and the concept of corporate responsibility, I would have asked myself, “am I likely to cause harm, and/or am I myself engaging in any of the -isms as I am attempting to shed light on said social issue.”

    I think the comment was heinous, disgusting and incredibly offensive, but I think the Onion and its supporters would have a better argument that the comment is satire had it been placed on the magazine’s website and part of a longer piece or a more in-depth article. At least then, if people went to the site or clicked on a hyperlink, they would have a full “story” to consider. I am certain that I would still find the comment offensive, sexist and racist, and probably not satirical, BUT I think the other side would have a stronger argument.

  • NoLongerSilent

    I have to agree with you here. The words are what the words are. I think that’s another piece that people keep missing. Satire is not in the actual words written or spoken; the author must consider both connotation and denotation. The satire comes primarily from what the author is implying and what he/she hopes will be inferred. The satirist wants you to read the words and then consider that is “being said.” That’s why the intent in and of itself doesn’t matter; it’s whether the audience understands the message as intended. Satire is a form of communication, so one must consider both the source and the intended recipients.

    The Onion did in fact call Quvenzhane’ a c**t. Those words were actually typed out. I’m as incredulous as you are that people keep missing that. Now, as a satirical magazine, they no doubt meant to imply something different and provide social commentary. They may have meant to demonstrate the absurdity and offensiveness of sexism/racism, or maybe they wanted to call into question how we talk about celebrities, or how the viewing public attributes personality traits to people we don’t know, But given American history and culture, there were other implications and other inferences that could be made from their comment, so it didn’t work. The satirist has to consider the audience.

    For me, on a personal level, the intent means nothing. But even if when just evaluating it as satire, the comment fails because:

    – The language on its face was racist and sexist, which in itself is problematic, but also because:
    – The racist and sexist comment was sent into a culture whose dominant group regularly engages in racism and sexism, so there was no guarantee it would be received and even celebrated as satire. The Onion’s audience is predominantly made up of that dominant group.
    – It’s common knowledge (and a well-known business strategy) that tweets are retweeted, thereby almost guaranteeing that the message would be received by more than just regular readers — use of Twitter exponentially increases the number of potential readers.
    – The writer also failed to consider the subcultures/minority groups within the dominant culture and what the reception would be in those groups. He/She erased women, and specifically ignored (Intentionally or not) black women, from the group of tweet recipients who should have been considered.

    All that said, my biggest issue, which has nothing to do with the satire question really, but speaks more to racism, sexism, empathy and general humanity, the possibility of harm to Quvenzhane’ was not considered.

    At the end of the day, the fact that her well-being was not even an issue and that people who support that Tweet feel like that’s no big deal or who think that causing a backlash or causing these conversations somehow justify the comment being sent…that says more about society than that Tweet ever could. Because the backlash isn’t coming from the supposed target, the dominant group who need to engage in self-reflection; they think it’s great. The backlash is coming from and pain was caused to the very population on whose behalf the Onion was supposedly speaking.

  • I re-read my comment, did I posit that it was possible to protect children all the time always from every terrible thing that human beings are exposed to? No, I didn’t, and I apologize if I left room for that reading. What I meant to say is, let’s consider the context, consider how our actions affect the world, and try not to be dicks.

    I think you’re grossly overestimating the importance of that tweet. I understand that you thought it was funny and that you “got” it. So did I, coincidentally— but i still don’t think it was important or affective enough to be useful (in that context). And ultimately, not really funny enough to be defensible.

    Different opinions. It’s what keeps the internet running these days.

  • NoLongerSilent

    “…let’s consider the context, consider how our actions affect the world, and try not to be dicks.”

    JKB – Loving you for this comment.

  • NoLongerSilent

    But the point is, in that attempt to highlight the sickness of our culture, there was the potential for harm (to Quvenzhane’) and a resulting actual harm (possibly to Quvenzhane’ and definitely to African American women).

    How do you know that the comment caused harm? The HUGE number of people, especially black women, who are telling you that it did! And do you know who can best determine the harm the tweet caused the black community? The black community. And we, and our allies, are telling you that the comment was hurtful.

    I swear it’s like having a tooth pulled and the dentist telling you that you feel slight pressure and not pain. No doggone it, either the Novocaine isn’t working or I need more; it hurts! I know the difference between pain and pressure.

    Do I think the Onion staff have good intentions. Most of the time, yes. But do those abstract intentions matter when actual harm could or does occur? No.

    If the Onion has the power to influence culture, they have some amount of responsibility — at a minimum, an accountability — for harm caused when they wield that power. Just because you CAN say or do something doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Do we need an ethical review board for this experiment? Because your position here seems to be theory over practice.

  • Kaya

    Love the radio silence in response to that. Love.

  • kaydenpat

    I was also wondering how MaryAnn knew that there was no malicious intent. Mind reader?

  • NoLongerSilent

    Matt, that’s our point.

    People would and do say things like that about little girls, especially little black girls. And those people are not some tiny, barely visible section of American culture. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Onion’s apology on their website and read through the comments. Also, do a search on The Hunger Games and see the awful things that were said about the young woman who played Rue.

    The consideration isn’t just the joke-teller’s view; the joke-teller also has to consider the recipients. For example, assuming one source for all, the social commentary disseminated to residents of Tokyo will likely differ from social commentary provided to people in Melbourne, Australia, which will also differ from commentary about the culture in Aix-en-Province.

    The Onion did not consider that among their demographic, there is a significant portion who would not self-reflect upon reading the tweet and that a significant portion of the recipients of that tweet would be black women who have a different cultural experience, not the least of which is being consistently dehumanized by and being the target of such “jokes.”

    You can’t just call her an “adorable little girl.” She is an adorable little, black girl. I wish that didn’t make a difference, but it does because it makes a difference in the society/scenario being satirized. If the effect of the satire is that the people who need to see the issue don’t, the people who already understand the problem just have their concerns validated, and the group that is already affected by the specific problem is further hurt by the commentary, how is that effective?

    Because right now, what I see is a large number of white men saying it’s no big deal, a significant number of white women saying it wasn’t the best choice, but no big deal, and the majority of black women (and men, surprisingly) that are saying, “Yes, once again, we’re being used as a punchline and no one gives a crap that we don’t like it.”

    If you visit a few blogs discussing this issue and look at the comments, count and then rank them in decreasing order from the number of people not offended to people offended, it looks like this: white men; white women; black men; black women. It is not coincidental that that ranking mirrors, by race and gender, the degree of social privilege an individual will have in America.

  • kaydenpat

    “To assume and infer racism where racism is not evident shows racism on the part of the person assuming/inferring it.”

    Nonsense. It’s your opinion that there is no racist implication to the Onion’s tweet. That’s not a fact. Others differ and have the right to do so. Doesn’t make them racist to differ with your opinion either.

    You seem to feel that your opinion is the only one that matters and that you can dictate how people react to the Onion’s tweet just because you find it harmless.

    The Onion apologized for its error, which was the right thing to do. Hopefully, they won’t make anymore such errors again.

    And it is “feminists” like you (White women) who make women like me shun calling ourselves feminists. You have no empathy for how Black women feel. You only care about your narrow interests. I have no reason to throw my support behind your causes since you’ve made it very clear that Black women’s opinions/concerns don’t matter much to “feminists” like you.

  • kaydenpat

    Does it matter whether or not the tweet was sent to her personally?
    HUH? She could still hear about it since it was publicized and passed around. Not understanding your point at all.

  • Paul

    I’d just like you to know, and this seems as good a location as any to say it, that I have really appreciated your comments on this thread. Sometimes discussions like this feel like shouting into a crowded void, but in case you were feeling that way, please be aware that at least one person has read, appreciated, and been persuaded by your arguments.

  • Amber

    Cunt doesn’t have to be racial, the main problem here is white women’s utter lack of inclusive of women of color in their whole feminist movement. White women don’t care and they don’t have to care. All the the feminist movement to them is promoting their own agenda against white men. Sandra Fluke being called a slut made it to the White House with all the outrage from white women..Where was the outrage? I can see the problems in what happened and I’m not offended by the word cunt. But typical..white women are always like explain to me…give me examples. You have access to internet..Learn about your white privilege oppress black women and how you aren’t doing anything to help, because you don’t care.

  • Amber

    You don’t want to see it because its acknowledging your privilege to see and acknowledge racism, but you benefit from it. You thrive from it and white women are going to take their feminist movement all the way to the highest social class in America and still be seen as victims, though everything has been handed to them

  • Amber

    Yes, because white women are concerned with talking about the systems that oppress them, but when anyone mentions slavery-which ended in the 1860s…unless you’re bad at math that’s like 140 years ago-and thinks weren’t just dandy after…segregation and now. So now people should NOT fail to mention historical information because it makes white women feel less guilty about being no better about racism than white men.

  • Amber

    because you’re a white women who is unaware of her privilege. You’d rather ignore it, because if you don’t, then you’d acknowledge that you contribute to oppression in America–which is impossible for white women to do obviously. White women always say well come on guys-it was a joke.. However, I’ve never seen more outrage from when any white women is objectified. Katherine Webb? Sandra Fluke. You’d think America flipped upside down–but it was funny. And you don’t have to see how she’s damaged for it to be true.

  • Amber

    I’m sure your thumbs up are coming from other white feminists who like yeah she’s about us all. Strangely enough white women expect for everyone to be united in their fight against white men-but when it comes to white women sticking their necks out the doors and acknowledging their privilege, they start running around-trying to find a way to defend and excuse and draw attention away from the fact that they can’t empathize with this black child because they’re black and you’re white. We get it. You’re white. Your life isso ooo hard

  • So, would their satire have worked better if they tweeted, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Daniel Day-Lewis is kind of a cunt, right?” or if the gender is necessary to demonstrate their dialogue, then maybe Meryl Streep? (I don’t know if she was actually at the Oscars..)

  • Erica_JS

    What you are missing is that Quvenzhané Wallis is not just a little girl, she’s a little *black* girl. And little black girls, in our culture, are not supposed to be happy and successful and self-confident. So saying “oh, nobody really thinks that…” the thing is, they do.

  • Sweetling

    As a proud and staunch feminist, I’m having trouble with Ms. Johanson’s clear-eyed reaction to The Onion’s brand of satire while alongside her stubborn density on that of Seth MacFarlane. His humor is cutting, vicious, truthful, and truly funny, but not misogynistic. He pokes fun – in the form of a hot branding iron – at our culture of fame obsession and general Stoopidity. How can such an obviously intelligent feminist writer not see that?

  • NoLongerSilent

    People often use gendered slurs against men as an attempt to emasculate them. Basically, the same way the phrases “quit acting like a b*tch” or “you throw like a girl” are used.

  • Ah, well good for her.

  • Kids don’t understand sarcasm, huh? Definitely not buying it.

  • Haven’t we ever heard the expression “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It’s not a history of verbal abuse casting a shadow over her childhood, it’s a joke on a fake news website that she probably doesn’t give a shit about. My money is on the idea that she ends up a cooler person because of this who doesn’t have such sappy, unrealistic expectations of a free speech society.

  • And what exactly is The Onion’s narrative?

  • Anyone who feels genuinely oppressed by a tweet from The Onion should take a look at what oppression really is and give themselves a reality check.

  • I’m pretty sure the girl’s peripherally involved in this sob story at best, definitely not “at the heart of all this,” which has turned into a forum for a level of self-righteous moralizing that no dead Iraqi or Afghani child has ever inspired.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dude, this bullshit “argument” has been addressed all over this thread. Hell, it’s all over the goddamn internet. If you have nothing new to contribute, why are you bothering to reply to a week old comment?

  • La Queshia Donald Donald

    I honestly wasn’t going to engage in this topic but I’m beyond flabbergasted, angry, and baffled. You speak with your white privileged mouth instead of your brain, why do others have to educate YOU? Why? Is it someones sole duty to take time out of their day to gather intel that you deem fit, so that your ignorance is some what peeled off? Hog ass! Its gross how you know about your disposition to white privileges but still act in a way that “as long as I know it I’m not as bad as others”. Actually you’re worst because you know and have either not tried or don’t care to change your ideas and ways. Shame on you to to call others idiots when in fact you’re acting like a privileged moron. You know what would be a more rewarding use of one’s time than educating over bearing and over the top whites? That we wouldn’t have to use that time once again serving white people and try to come together to better ourselves as a nation. How about the John Harvey.( I’m not trying to be an ass but wow the things people say and excuse, if any, grammar errors)

  • kory stephens

    Thus, you’ve shown your true colors

  • Silverspoon

    MAJ, it’s got to be, like, 4:30 in the morning over in the land of British. Shouldn’t you be in bed by now? :)

  • Vice-President Dink Cheney

    Sorry, there’s no excuse for this, and trying to “put it in context” isn’t going to work. You want context? Some snotty 22-year-old snorted a couple of lines and tweeted away his job.There wasn’t any intent to point anything out. It was just young, dumb, and full of contempt.

  • Vice-President Dink Cheney

    It’s a joke that isn’t funny, so it’s not really a “joke.” Just a dumb insult.

  • Vice-President Dink Cheney

    Yeah, I’m sure she has a career left after this, Right. No damage at all. Her next movie will be . . . .

  • Vice-President Dink Cheney

    “list of off limits topics” 1. Children the rest are debatable.

  • Vice-President Dink Cheney

    “Or is there any possibility that this was meant sarcastically, to mean precisely the opposite?” Nope. There wasn’t. Some kid just flipped her off.

  • Whatever you say, Dr. Rocketscience! Enjoy your freedom of speech to denigrate my thoughts and feelings. Oh wait…

  • Sounds reasonable. If you have a different view of something than another person just accuse them of being racist.

  • I’m really not sure what you’re thinking. If you don’t defend free speech in extreme cases you really don’t defend it at all.

    No one sensible is arguing it wasn’t intended to be offensive. The only goal here seems to be to make something that’s perfectly legal socially unacceptable, which only makes jokes like this more effective and necessary.

    If you actually wanted to effectively disarm humor like this you’d take the attitude that it’s intended to be offensive but that it’s not shocking or worth getting offended about, using it instead as a teaching moment.

    Instead you’re trying to protect the innocent from the real world and prepare them for a world that doesn’t exist. You can choose to emphasize resilience or victimization, and considering what real victims have to go through, the choice is clear.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, as long as your feelings aren’t being denigrated, i guess it’s all good.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The hell are you talking about? No body’s free speech is being attacked. You see congress working up the “No Calling People Cunts on Twitter Act of 2013”? Do you even know how free speech actually works?

    Instead you’re trying to protect the innocent

    I’m gonna cut you off right there. If you can’t be bothered to do this, first and foremost, you don’t deserve the actual free speech that you actually have. Because that, my self-nvolved friend, is what free speech is for. You also have no place in civilized society. And you’re kind of an ass, to boot.

  • Like I said, enjoy the hypocrisy. My point is that you pick your battles, and your views aren’t principled. I hope other people can see how transparent it is when you call free speech a “bullshit ‘argument’.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You’re not making a free speech argument, you’re making a “that [little black girl] should just suck it up, so that I can laugh at her” argument. You and your “principles” can bite me

  • You said that you’re “putting concern for an innocent individual over the ability to write satire and make political points” and I’m pointing out that the way in which you’re trying to do it is to rail against freedom of speech by suggesting that although its permissible it shouldn’t be exercised because it’s offensive. Do you expect me to believe this is a defense of free speech just because you’re not launching a preposterous legal attack?

    You’re just confirming my view by cutting me off and telling me that if I don’t use my free speech the way you think I should then I don’t deserve it.

    I do know how free speech works, and despite that I haven’t called you names you’ve been quite disrespectful to me, calling my arguments bullshit, my comments unoriginal and pointless, calling me self-involved, saying I have no place in a civilized society, and telling me I’m kind of an ass.

    I know that you have a right to do it, but I also know that you lack principle when you do it.

  • Well, regardless of trying to impute racial motivations and a level of schadenfreude to my sentiments, they are not my principles, they’re supposedly your principles. And you’re wrong, just because a free speech argument has contents doesn’t mean it’s not a free speech argument.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You open with “sticks and stones” and you think you’re going to be taken seriously?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    you’ve been quite disrespectful to me

    Meh. You’re an adult. You’ll get over it.

    Also, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t lose sleep from having my principles questioned by a person willing to use a child as a weapon in a culture war.

  • Yeah, I do; kids call each other names on a daily basis. Kids in England use the word “cunt” like it’s nothing. It’s a free speech society, and part of educating kids is preparing them for that reality, and helping them make choices about what matters and what doesn’t.

  • Ultimately, it’s not a matter of how I take it, it’s a matter of not living up to your own principles. Like Baldwin pointed out, white people who practice racism are ultimately eroding their own souls, not the souls of black folk. It’s the same in your case, obviously the case are different, but I think Baldwin’s example is particularly eloquent.

    I’ve gotten over the idea that people need to respect me, but if you espouse that value as you say you do you may as well live up to it. There are plenty of other differences that you might use to justify your behavior, but I’m not saying this to shame you as much as to make you think.

    Also, you’re the one who sees this as a culture war. I see it as a fairly innocuous meme containing provocative but not shocking language that got a lot of people upset. You may regard yourself as doing so in a positive manner, but you’re the one exploiting the issue to make a point.

    The only reason this is getting so much play is because of the people who are offended. It wasn’t that funny.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Yes, but this wasn’t kids calling each other names, was it? It was, presumably, an adult.

    I take it, then, you go around calling every little girl and boy you see “cunt” and “faggot”? I mean, what would stop you? You’re only educating them, and after all, free speech. And besides, unlike your right to talk out your ass, their parents’ rights to swing their fists ends at your nose. Amirite?

  • Dr. Rocketscience


  • You’re right, it was presumably an adult, but you’re also wrong. Clearly, going around calling little boys and girls names as an adult in a hostile or threatening manner would be considered verbally abusive. This was a single instance that wasn’t directed at her and was obviously meant to be ironic.

    My point is that kids are not as innocent as you pretend, and that the word “cunt” is not horrific.

  • Whatever. I’m just trying to have a conversation.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh, so it’s ok as long as you do it ironically? Good to know.

    kids are not as innocent as you pretend

    How could they be with people like you around?

    the word “cunt” is not horrific.

    “Cunt” is the single worst gendered insult in American English. The Onion is an American website. Quvenzhané Wallis is herself an American. This is all well established fact.

  • Yeah, it makes a difference what the intent is, and the intent was obviously not to insult Wallis but to offend people who are easy to offend.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to raise kids who are so easily offended. But just because I defend the joke on grounds of free speech, etc. doesn’t mean I’m corrupting the innocence of kids. It means I have different ideas about what constitutes innocence and what constitutes ignorance.

    Your ideas about the word might be generally accepted by a lot of people, but they’re not what I’d call facts. However, supposing this is sort of irrelevant, focusing on the idea that it’s the worst insult American English still ignores the fact that no matter how bad it is within the context of words and some weird cultural disconnect between Britain and the U.S., it’s still just a word that people have been conditioned to react strongly to. It’s not horrific.

  • katran

    How do you get the impression that she thinks that it is only her opinion that matters? Because she gave a replied to someone’s comment?

  • katran

    That’s a good point (one which MaryAnn also made). Perhaps, we should also consider what The Onion is and stands for. If, say, New York Times had tweeted something like this than surely it would have been degenerate. But the post comes from Onion which everyone knows is a satirical site.

  • katran

    So would you be much more relaxed if The Onion existed around the time Anna Paquin was nominated and called her a “cunt”, instead? How the hell is this about a race?

  • katran

    You just called the tweet “stupid” yourself. You can give your tears of rage a rest.

  • katran

    It seems that you perfectly fit all the names you’ve been calling others. Better off asleep.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh, tosh. Go back and read the exchange. Mark wanted to make it about me. He called me “unprincipled” on “free speech” because I want to “protect the innocent”, when protecting the innocent is what free speech is for. His talk of free speech rings hollow, since it appears to exist only for his amusement. I called him an ass for doing so. Who do you think offered to more grievous insult?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That question has been asked and answered here, and all over the internet, innumerable times over the last week.

  • Unsilent majority

    Good examples with using other actresses’ name. Now let’s try it with the nes of your mother, grandma, and daughters and really get the satirical gist of it…

  • And the Onion has often, unapologetically, offered up the satire defense when they’ve written offensive, difficult, uncomfortable things. They didn’t this time; they apologized. And when the experts at the satire defense don’t employ said defense, it’s because they know it’s not good enough.

  • NoLongerSilent

    I find neither sexism nor racism relaxing, so the answer to your first question is “no.” I take issue with gendered-insults irrespective of to whom they are addressed.

    I think that I’ve already expressed in this and other posts on this page why I believe the Onion’s comment was both racist and sexist. If you are interested in my reasoning, please peruse those comments first and then let me know if you have specific questions/points of disagreement.

    Assuming that you are asking in good faith, here are additional articles to consider:

    First, a wonderful post from Melissa McEwan about misogynist language:

    To look at this issue from a different perspective:

    Then these, in no particular order:
    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/03/on-quvenzhane-wallis.html (Discusses the comment, the responses and includes links to both.)

    A short video that offers additional insight about the experience of black girls in America. Note the questions about race and value/self-worth on the right side of the page.


  • NoLongerSilent

    Agreed. Thank you for pointing that out, Aaron.

  • There is NO EXCUSE to call a young child an awful name…whether in jest or serious…whether it’s Quvenzhané Wallis or Honey Boo Boo. It’s not about feminism or profanity or race or whatever y’all want to defend or be outraged about, it is about being nasty to children. These kids don’t live in a vacuum, they hear the hurtful things that are said about them. How are they supposed to understand at the age of 9 or 7, that it’s not personal, it’s just a reflection of society?


  • Fascinating that my comment defending children was apparently deleted. Go about your snarking.

  • Bluejay

    What are you talking about? Your previous comment is right here.

    Just so you know, Disqus sometimes displays comments differently. To see comments in chronological order, click on “Discussion” and select “Newest.” No one’s censoring you here.

  • NoLongerSilent

    Regarding the discussion of how the sexualization of a young black girl differs from that of a white one, consider this article from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia,

    The whole article (hell, the whole website) is worth reviewing, but here a few relevant excerpts:

    “The portrayal of black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype. The descriptive words associated with this
    stereotype are singular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly,
    beguiling, tempting, and lewd. Historically, white women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty – even sexual purity, but black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of black women is signified by the name Jezebel.”

    “An analysis of Jezebel images also reveals that black
    female children are sexually objectified. Black girls, with the faces of pre-teenagers, are drawn with adult sized buttocks, which are exposed. They are naked, scantily clad, or hiding seductively behind towels, blankets, trees, or other objects. A 1949 postcard shows a naked black girl hiding her genitals with a paper fan. Although she has the appearance of a small child she has
    noticeable breasts. The accompanying caption reads: “Honey, I’se Waitin’ Fo’ You Down South.” The sexual innuendo is obvious.”

    “Another postcard (circa 1950s) shows a black girl, approximately eight years old, standing in a watermelon patch. She has a protruding stomach. The caption reads: “Oh-I is Not!…It Must Be Sumthin’ I Et!!” Her exposed right shoulder and the churlish grin suggest that the protruding stomach resulted from a sexual experience, not overeating. The portrayal of this prepubescent girl as pregnant suggests that black females are sexually active and sexually irresponsible even as small children.”

    “The Jezebel has replaced the Mammy as the dominant image of black women in American popular culture. The black woman as
    prostitute, for example, is a staple in mainstream movies, especially those with urban settings. The black prostitute and the black pimp supposedly give these movies cutting edge realism. Small budget pornographic movies reinforce vile sexual stereotypes of black women. These women are willing, sometimes predatory, sexual deviants who will fulfill any and all sexual fantasies. Their sexual performances tap into centuries-old images of black women as uninhibited whores. Televised music videos, especially those by gangsta rap performers, portray scantily clad, nubile black women who thrust their hips to lyrics which often depict them as ‘hos, skeezers, and bitches. A half century after the American civil rights movement, it is increasingly easy to find black women, especially young ones, depicted as Jezebels whose only value is as sexual commodities.”

  • NoLongerSilent

    I think your recommendation has fallen on deaf ears.

    Despite the plethora of information provided in our responses, there is no evidence in her subsequent comments or in a follow-up post (there isn’t one) that suggests MaryAnn has thoughtfully considered or reconsidered how subconscious, implied and/or institutionalized racism could have played a part in this situation.

    The difficult thing for me is that as a feminist film critic, MaryAnn has demonstrated her understanding of “male privilege” – the concept that men, not being women, often miss or ignore gender-related/gender-biased implications of their statements/behavior (film). In part, the existence of her blog as I understand it, is to point out those implications for everyone, especially the uninformed, to consider.

    But somehow the idea that she, not being a black woman, is missing something race-related in a public statement, is unfathomable to her. What the heck?

    In response to another comment, she concedes that black girls have a different experience (“have it worse”) than white girls. So if she is a white woman, it follows that her experience does not include the experience of black women. She may empathize, but she has no direct experience of life as lived by an African American woman. If MaryAnn accepts that she has a different cultural experience, I do not understand why she refuses to believe that she is missing the specific information that comes from the real-life experience of being a black woman? Considering different life/cultural experiences, it is not difficult to also accept that many people of color interpreted the comment differently she did and were affected in a more profound way than she was.

    MaryAnn has studied feminism and has lived as a woman. Her opinion is not infallible, but it is likely that she has a better understanding of sexism than a man who has had limited exposure to those to the topic. I, and many of the like-minded individuals, have studied critical race theory and/or have lived as African American women. It is likely that we have a better understanding of racism than a white woman who has had limited exposure to the topic. (By this, I mean that while MaryAnn has made her media and gender studies expertise known directly and indirectly, she has not, in her bio or in anywhere in these comments, stated or implied that she has performed in depth study of AA history or critical race theory.)

    In any case, even if people believe that the comment itself was not racist, how do they not understand that sending the comment was, at the least, racism “by omission”? Disseminating social commentary into a mixed race society without consideration or concern that the majority of a subordinated race may feel insulted and dehumanized is a privilege and a racist act.

    “Hey, little black girl? Black people? Especially Black women? This is the Onion speaking. I’m gonna say what I wanna say. Because I can. And because, satire. Maybe I’m not thinking about how this statement will affect you … or maybe I know, but I’m not particularly concerned about whether or not you will hear the message and how you’ll feel if and when you do. Who cares? ‘Cuz I got something to say. It’s funny, ironic and I think my buddies will get it. Too bad, so sad if you don’t like it.”

    Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire…we get it. People with power and authority can say whatever they want about us, directly or indirectly, however and whenever they want to. And if that speech/behavior can be “justified” for whatever reason – comedy, music, satire, record sales, tv ratings, political gain – the potential for harm and/or our subsequent objections don’t matter. All those aforementioned concepts/goals are prioritized over the actual effect on our psyches, our public image, and our lives. We are don’t have the social power, standing or authority to prevent hurtful behavior and our voices will ignored and dismissed when we cry out in protest.

    I accept the Onion’s apology as sincere. Other people may not agree; for me, in this instance, the apology was sufficient as long as the “mistake” is not repeated. I think that they have made many missteps and I have, on several other occasions, spoken out when I thought they crossed a line. I respect and understand their right to provide social commentary; I just believe that a certain amount of responsibility and accountability comes with that right.

    But these people defending the original tweet, denouncing the apology and/or dismissing the idea that the comment was sexist, racist and harmful? Those people, just don’t get it and it seems, never will.

    The majority is the majority group(s) either is unaffected by, unaware of, does not care, or is dismissive of how the comment affected others. And the group already subordinated and ignored is further harmed. Satire, proving alliance? People, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Marilyn Ferdinand

    I happen to think that Seth MacFarlane’s number was as provocative as the tweet, throwing it in the Academy’s faces that they’ll put boobs in anything, whether they need them or not, to get butts in chairs. Why not confront them with their puerile appeal to the lowest common denominator, deflate their self-importance, and expose to a worldwide audience the disrespect they show to actresses routinely.

  • Hash

    A better question is “how well do You know your kid?”

    There are LOADS of opinions on the topic of educational psychology, and we could spend a good chunk of time trying to cite & out-cite each other. The length of time it took me to respond to this should let you know how keen on that I might be. The important thing to remember is that my original question was objective. I cannot know if your kid understands sarcasm because logically speaking, you yourself may or may not know. Therefore, I asked if you thought s/he did.

    Now, maybe you give your kid more or less credit than they deserve, or maybe your kid is theoretical or something; I don’t really care. An emotionally intelligent child could have it explained to them clearly and simply and totally get it.

  • Thanks for letting me know. And, actually, I did look around for it before I posted the above. I may easily have missed it.My apologies to flickfilosopher.

  • Harry Johnston

    I realize this is very late, and I haven’t gone through all 480 comments to check whether it’s already been said, but It’s important and – I think – interesting to note that the c-word is used (and hence interpreted) very much differently in the United States (where it seems much of the commentary comes from) and in New Zealand (and, I presume, Britain, where the joke came from).

    In New Zealand, at least for my generation, it has approximately the same intended meaning as the a-word. Like the a-word, it derives from a simile: a claim that the target has characteristics in common with a specific body part.

    For an American interpretation, see http://www.popehat.com/2013/02/26/not-all-layers-of-an-onion-are-equally-worth-peeling-back/#comment-990299

    I have the impression, from speaking to various Americans over the years, that this is more or less the consensus. (I have to wonder if they also think that the a-word is insulting because it implies that you are a bad person if you have a “rear end”!)

  • The joke did not come from Britain.

    The Onion is written by Americans, as commentary on American culture.

  • Harry Johnston

    I read something elsewhere that made me think the specific person who authored the joke was in Britain. I just reread the sentence in question and I believe that I had misinterpreted it. Thanks for the correction.

  • Rancier360

    Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Seth MacFarlane is kind of a dick, right?

  • Ann Burlingham

    I totally want to see you face-to-face with Quvenzhane Wallis while you say all this to her.

    No, go ahead.

  • Just passing through

    This indeed is the heart of the matter that the author is completely missing.

  • A Practical Guide To Women Click Here It’s almost always the woman’s fault. Get rid of her ovaries and put her on HRT and then she won’t be crazy and she will have a libido..

  • Moira

    In case I needed another reason to dislike white feminists!

  • Moira

    She was NINE. 4th grade, isn’t it? Possibly 3rd. You think when she hears she was called a cunt she’s going to laugh it off and say oh, it’s just satire! Even if someone explained it to her I doubt she would be okay. Saying she wasn’t meant to see it is RIDICULOUS in this day n age. Stop excusing people hurting little black girls because ~~it’s a lesson in feminism~~.

  • Guesty

    Did you notice that literally every celebrity woman you talked about except Quvenzhané was white…? So I guess you’re into black girls being sacrificed for the good of white women.

  • ladida

    I just love how you erased the racial context so that you could throw Wallis under the bus to protect Hathaway. Just perfect.

  • Abigail Dole

    I am not at all shocked that a white feminist would support a black female CHILD a cunt. Even is she didn’t know about it then I am sure that her PARENTS did. White racist will be racist regardless of rather they wear the mantle of liberal or conservative.

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