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.

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Drave
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 9:33pm

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.

Prankster36
Prankster36
reply to  Drave
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:10am

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.

Susan Wenger
Susan Wenger
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 9:34pm

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
Danielm80
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 9:40pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Danielm80
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:10pm

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?

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:21pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Danielm80
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:59pm

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?”

Victoria
Victoria
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:49am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Victoria
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:12am

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.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:02am

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.

Aitch Slavic
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:34am

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

Elaine
Elaine
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:57am

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.

possum
possum
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 9:52pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  possum
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:11pm

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

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:58pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:11am

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
Bluejay
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:30am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:07am

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

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:41am

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.

possum
possum
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:02am

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?”

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  possum
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:53am

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.

Clementine
Clementine
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:45pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Clementine
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:25pm

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:47pm

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?

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 1:35am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 12:23pm

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

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:20pm

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.

Lolipsy
Lolipsy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:34am

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.

Lori S.
Lori S.
reply to  Lolipsy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 8:16pm

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.

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 11:20pm

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.

shelly
reply to  NoLongerSilent
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 11:41pm

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

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  shelly
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 2:50am

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.

kaydenpat
kaydenpat
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 11:45pm

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:52am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:07am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:30am

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
Bluejay
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:58am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:51am

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?

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:48pm

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.

noixdekk
noixdekk
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:31pm

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?

Matt Markonis
reply to  noixdekk
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 11:20pm

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.

Strangesista
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:13am

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.

morejoy68
morejoy68
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 3:32am

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.

Prankster36
Prankster36
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:21am

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.

Aaron Andersen
reply to  Prankster36
Wed, Mar 06, 2013 12:47am

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
NoLongerSilent
reply to  Aaron Andersen
Wed, Mar 06, 2013 1:25am

Agreed. Thank you for pointing that out, Aaron.

noixdekk
noixdekk
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:24pm

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?

Matt Markonis
reply to  noixdekk
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 10:38pm

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

Jaeda Laurez
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 10:46pm

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

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 04, 2013 3:55pm

“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.

Lori S.
Lori S.
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 7:35pm

“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.

youjustdontgetit
youjustdontgetit
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 12:06pm

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

THE ONION DID NOT CALL A 9 YEAR OLD GIRL A CUNT.

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.

Caitrin McKee
reply to  youjustdontgetit
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 5:51am

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.

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  Caitrin McKee
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 6:48pm

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.

katran
katran
reply to  NoLongerSilent
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:19pm

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?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  katran
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 8:26pm

That question has been asked and answered here, and all over the internet, innumerable times over the last week.

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  katran
Wed, Mar 06, 2013 1:23am

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:
http://www.shakesville.com/2007/11/on-bitch-and-other-misogynist-language.html

To look at this issue from a different perspective:
http://blackgirldangerous.org/new-blog/2013/2/25/the-thing-about-being-a-little-black-girl-in-the-world-for-quvenzhan-wallis

Then these, in no particular order:
http://therumpus.net/2013/02/how-a-wound-heals/
http://mybrownbaby.com/2013/02/the-onions-quvenzhane-wallis-cnt-joke-was-anything-but-funny/
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.

http://www.understandingrace.org/lived/video/girl_trans.html

katran
katran
reply to  youjustdontgetit
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:17pm

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 10:43pm

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 11:33pm

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?

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 1:44am

Whatever you say, Dr. Rocketscience! Enjoy your freedom of speech to denigrate my thoughts and feelings. Oh wait…

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:02am

Well, as long as your feelings aren’t being denigrated, i guess it’s all good.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:14am

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:17am

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

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:30am

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:33am

You open with “sticks and stones” and you think you’re going to be taken seriously?

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:42am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:54am

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?

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 4:01am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 4:18am

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 4:33am

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.

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:07am

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.

Jack Connell
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:56am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:49am

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.

KO
KO
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 6:31pm

Why does examining the intent behind this tweet matter?

morejoy68
morejoy68
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 3:35am

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.

GeeksAreMyPeeps
GeeksAreMyPeeps
reply to  morejoy68
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 4:46am

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

kaydenpat
kaydenpat
reply to  morejoy68
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 11:39pm

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

Matt Markonis
reply to  morejoy68
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 1:56am

Sounds reasonable. If you have a different view of something than another person just accuse them of being racist.

Chicagogo
Chicagogo
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 5:01am

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.

katran
katran
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:24pm

You just called the tweet “stupid” yourself. You can give your tears of rage a rest.

Chicagogo
Chicagogo
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 3:52am

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.

Amber
Amber
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 02, 2013 12:39pm

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

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:09am

Seconded.

Hash
Hash
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:56am

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

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Hash
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:29pm

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.

Hash
Hash
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 11:17pm

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.

Ellie
Ellie
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:35pm

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.

John Morrison
John Morrison
reply to  Ellie
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 1:02am

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.

why
why
reply to  Ellie
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 11:55am

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.

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney
reply to  why
Mon, Mar 04, 2013 3:54pm

“list of off limits topics” 1. Children the rest are debatable.

Sol O.
Sol O.
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 8:32pm

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.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Sol O.
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 9:05pm

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?

Sol O.
Sol O.
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 10:01pm

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.

beck0974
beck0974
reply to  Sol O.
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:09am

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

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Sol O.
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 9:30pm

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.

Sol O.
Sol O.
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 9:59pm

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?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Sol O.
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 10:33pm

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 2:19am

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:09am

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:26am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:40am

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:53am

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Markonis
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:56am

ZZzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzzzz…

Matt Markonis
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 4:08am

Whatever. I’m just trying to have a conversation.

katran
katran
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 3:34pm

It seems that you perfectly fit all the names you’ve been calling others. Better off asleep.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  katran
Tue, Mar 05, 2013 8:20pm

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?

B
B
reply to  Sol O.
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 6:03pm

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.

Lindsay Ann Dow
reply to  Sol O.
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 7:06am

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.

igetit
igetit
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 11:52am

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.”

Done.

IS THIS SERIOUSLY YOUR REASON FOR PC CENSORSHIP??

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

WHO CARES?!? WHO CARES ABOUT THE TWEET? WHO CARES IF SHE SEES IT? NOW THAT SHE’S DEFINITELY SEEN IT BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOU, WHO CARES ABOUT THAT??

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  igetit
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 3:39pm

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  igetit
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 11:30pm

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.

Julie Sadowski
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 9:59pm

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.

Blue Period
Blue Period
reply to  Julie Sadowski
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 12:41am

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.

Matt
Matt
reply to  Julie Sadowski
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 3:17am

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.

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  Matt
Fri, Mar 01, 2013 11:42pm

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.

M Brooks
M Brooks
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 3:46pm

“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.

Barbara
Barbara
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 7:33pm

Do you have daughters?

Amber
Amber
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 02, 2013 12:36pm

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.

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 04, 2013 3:54pm

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

taloisi
taloisi
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:06pm

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.

Tim Lieder
reply to  taloisi
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:01am

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

Hash
Hash
reply to  Tim Lieder
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:05am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Tim Lieder
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 1:29am

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

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  taloisi
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:57am

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?”

faryl
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:27pm

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
Lisa
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:36pm

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

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Lisa
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:57pm

That would make the difference? How so?

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 5:01am

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!!!!

MarkyD
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 10:40pm

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.

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 11:52pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:02am

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.

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:58am

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.

Jack Connell
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:58am

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Jack Connell
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:21am

“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’

Jaz
Jaz
reply to  Jack Connell
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:42am

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.

John
reply to  Jaz
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 6:37am

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

sf
sf
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:17am

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

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:45am

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.

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:40pm

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.

Sol O.
Sol O.
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:52pm

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?

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
reply to  Sol O.
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 8:13pm

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!

Jack Connell
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 10:36pm

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
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Jack Connell
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:02pm

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?

alex
alex
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 12:03am

“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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:23am

“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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Sol O.
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 8:45pm

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:19pm

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

I bet some people did.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:36pm

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

EDIT: not an apt comprison

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:16pm

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?

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:25am

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
Buzzloves
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:22am

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?

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  Buzzloves
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 4:07pm

“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.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

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

leonine
leonine
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 7:54am

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…

Bluejay
Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:14am

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?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:39am

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.

la.donna.pietra
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:43pm

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

OldGuyNewDad
OldGuyNewDad
reply to  la.donna.pietra
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 3:51am

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

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  OldGuyNewDad
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:26am

Both mind bending points haha.

Spirit Equality
reply to  OldGuyNewDad
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 5:03am

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

NoLongerSilent
NoLongerSilent
reply to  Spirit Equality
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 5:07am

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.

Victoria
Victoria
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:44am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Victoria
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 12:58am

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
SaintAndy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:19am

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.

Fakey Fakeson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:44am

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

Jack Connell
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:59am

Aren’t you JAQ-ing yourself?

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Jack Connell
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:32am

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

Tim Lieder
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:00am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SaintAndy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:41am

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.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:21pm

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?

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:31am

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!

Annoyedteen
Annoyedteen
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:24am

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?

sf
sf
reply to  Annoyedteen
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:22am

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

Tim Lieder
reply to  Annoyedteen
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:57am

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.

beck0974
beck0974
reply to  Tim Lieder
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:46am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Annoyedteen
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:36am

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.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:02pm

{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.}

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:13pm

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.

Lolipsy
Lolipsy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 5:51am

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.

Tim Lieder
reply to  Victoria
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:56am

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Victoria
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:29am

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 :/.

Metsy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:51am

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.

James Parr
James Parr
reply to  Metsy
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:27am

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Metsy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:50am

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.

Dawn
Dawn
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:53am

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.

Jenny Perton
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 1:56am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jenny Perton
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:35am

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.

Dex Lamphart
Dex Lamphart
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:17pm

“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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Dex Lamphart
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:15am

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.

Lori S.
Lori S.
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 8:20pm

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?

caiosigma
caiosigma
reply to  Jenny Perton
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:39pm

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

James
James
reply to  caiosigma
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 8:08pm

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?

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  James
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:16am

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

Kallen
Kallen
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:07am

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

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Kallen
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:32am

I don’t think this is about race.

You are free to disagree, of course.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:51pm

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.

KJ
KJ
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:18pm

Of course you don’t, you’re white!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  KJ
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:28pm

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:18am

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

Silly internet.

vergueishon
vergueishon
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 6:25pm

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.

Jaz
Jaz
reply to  vergueishon
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:33am

You’re reaching WAYYY too hard.

SaintAndy
SaintAndy
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 7:32pm

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  SaintAndy
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:19am

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 :/.

Rachel
Rachel
reply to  Buzzloves
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 5:22am

Lemme guess-

you’re white.

Saddened
Saddened
reply to  Buzzloves
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 8:15pm

Aww, someone thinks reverse racism is a real thing!

MNOP
MNOP
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 8:25pm

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.

Please Explain
Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:15am

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?

FILM CRIT HULK
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:44am

QUITE EASILY: IT’S ABOUT THE INTENT AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU ACTUALLY MEAN IT. LIMBAUGH’S STANCE ON JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING INDICATES, OR AT LEAST IMPLIES, THAT HE REALLY THINKS THAT WAY.

THESE THINGS ARE LARGELY ABOUT CONTEXT.

My take on it
My take on it
reply to  FILM CRIT HULK
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:21am

I AM HONORED TO HAVE HAD THE SAME OBSERVATION AS FILM CRIT HULK.

Please Explain
Please Explain
reply to  FILM CRIT HULK
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:28am

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.

don't be so emotional
don't be so emotional
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 5:39am

that’s not what he’s saying at all

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Please Explain
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:58am

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

MarkyD
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:02am

You lose for simply bringing up Rush Limbaugh.

Please Explain
Please Explain
reply to  MarkyD
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:09am

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

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  MarkyD
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 5:00am

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

Tim Lieder
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:02am

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.

Buzzloves
Buzzloves
reply to  Tim Lieder
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:59am

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.

My take on it
My take on it
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:05am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Please Explain
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:31am

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.

Brian
Brian
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 2:29am

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.

MarkyD
reply to  Brian
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:02am

Exactly what you said.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Brian
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:04pm

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.

alex
alex
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:51pm

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.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Brian
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:22pm

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.

GeeksAreMyPeeps
GeeksAreMyPeeps
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:07am

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.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  GeeksAreMyPeeps
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:25pm

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.

David Lockhart
David Lockhart
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:20am

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.

possum
possum
reply to  David Lockhart
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:54am

Totally seconded.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  David Lockhart
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:29am

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?

Chicagogo
Chicagogo
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 4:37am

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?”

Ahem.

jin choung
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 3:58am

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.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:09am

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.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:12am

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.

nbajelly
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:27am

Please cite any historically racist implication of the word cunt.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
reply to  nbajelly
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 5:07am

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.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 11:09pm

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.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
reply to  LaSargenta
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 3:10am

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.

Sticky Geranium
reply to  nbajelly
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 5:22am

“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.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
reply to  Sticky Geranium
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 5:31am

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.

Rachel
Rachel
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Wed, Feb 27, 2013 4:48am

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.

Matt Markonis
reply to  Rachel
Sun, Mar 03, 2013 10:54pm

And what exactly is The Onion’s narrative?

Rachel Roth
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Thu, Feb 28, 2013 8:21pm

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.

http://eyeswideopen.org/?p=1080

nbajelly
reply to  Michelle (Balancing Jane)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 4:31am

“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.

Michelle (Balancing Jane)
reply to  nbajelly
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 5:15am

“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.