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'The Onion' Called Quvenzhané Wallis the 'C' Word


The Onion pushes the envelope, but did it go too far this time?

Buzzfeed writes: Wallis

After being up for an hour, the backlash gathered, and the tweet was deleted. Was it meant to be some sort of joke reflecting on how people talk about someone like Anne Hathaway? I tweeted at The Onion for comment, and emailed its editor, but have not gotten a response.

During the show, MacFarlane sexualized her as well: "To give you an idea of just how young she is, it will be 16 years until she's too old for Clooney."

In other, more upbeat news, she's going to take over for Willow Smith in the Annie remake:

"With the recent Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim, Quvenzhané Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star," said Hannah Minghella of Columbia Pictures. "She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can't wait for audiences to further discover her."

UPDATE: The Onion apologizes.

Feb. 25, 2013

Dear Readers,

On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.

The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.

In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.

Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.


Steve Hannah
The Onion

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  1. And how is this racism at all? Don't abuse that. Calling out racism where it doesn't exist cheapens it for when actual racism needs to be called out. Remember that tale about crying wolf?

    Posted by: jawole | Feb 25, 2013 12:06:05 PM

  2. And how is this racism at all? Don't abuse that. Calling out racism where it doesn't exist cheapens it for when actual racism needs to be called out. Remember that tale about crying wolf?

    Posted by: jawole | Feb 25, 2013 12:06:07 PM

  3. It's interesting that it's somehow a crime for Ben Affleck to play Tony Mendez (who if anything looks like an old possibly Jewish Austrian college professor at this point) but the utterly ridiculous casting of a black girl as Annie is considered somehow ground breaking. Black Annie wouldn't have had much chance of being adopted by Daddy Warbucks. Back then, people were still adopting children as farm labor.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 12:16:01 PM

  4. Yeah, David. Who has Hollywood ridiculously cast as Jesus Christ in movies for the last 100 years?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 25, 2013 12:21:32 PM

  5. i'm pretty sure the charges of racism have to do with the commentary here that a black girl shouldn't be playing annie because depression-era rich white dudes didn't find little black girls to be so irresistibly adorable.

    the onion does walk a line in balancing humor and bad taste, so the risk is always there of going too far, but that's part of the fun of it. i get what they were going for, but it was inappropriate and didn't work. i'm impressed that they issued such a strong apology; i don't recall that they've done that before.

    Posted by: troybob | Feb 25, 2013 12:24:35 PM

  6. In fairness, while those who are defending this as a comment on Hollywood exploitation of actresses are probably right about the Onion writer's intentions, there are always some jokes that seem brilliant and hilarious inside your own head but land like a lead balloon once you actually put them out. There are plenty of clever ways the Onion could have made the same point without using a sexualized epithet for a nine-year-old girl, after all.

    And for those who are defending it as "just completing Seth McFarlane's joke", it wasn't incomplete in the first place -- the joke wasn't the fact that he seemed to be heading toward "c*nt" in and of itself, but in the fact that he's Seth McFarlane, king of the "how much can I get away with?" school of comedy, and seemed to be heading toward crossing a line. "C*nt" was not the unfinished punchline of the joke; the joke WAS "dorable", exactly as delivered.

    Posted by: Craig S | Feb 25, 2013 12:27:54 PM

  7. it is fun to watch people try to skirt racism by defending the historical accuracy of the refashioning of a film version of a fantasy musical made by the creator of glee for which jay-z will be providing soundtrack.

    Posted by: troybob | Feb 25, 2013 12:31:23 PM

  8. I think this entire discussion says more about the commenters here than the tweet itself.

    The Onion, traditionally, has never cared very much who it skewers. having said that, for her to be a 9 year old this is a bit much

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Feb 25, 2013 12:39:00 PM

  9. @Randall S. Murphy: I agree that too many comments on this and other blogs are cheap shots and not very thoughtful (though I'll admit at times I've made plenty myself). But in addition to un-thoughtful comments, I get frustrated reading comments like yours that make broad assertions, often negative assessments of others, without actually explaining or demonstrating what is being asserted. I wish you'd explain specifically why you think this thread reveals "the hypocrisy and not-very-substle racism of the gay community." I'm not saying I agree or disagree -- just that I wish you would have provided some elaboration of or back-up to your assertion, for what might be self-evident to you is probably not for someone else, and you charges of racism can come across like just another cheap shot.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Feb 25, 2013 12:44:31 PM

  10. Also Annie is a fictional character, not a real person, and there's *nothing* about the story that inherently requires her to be a white girl. Casting Wallis in a remake of "The Diary of Anne Frank" or "The Song of Bernadette" would be a problem; casting her as Little Orphan Annie is not.

    As for the idea that it's inappropriate because Daddy Warbucks, keep in mind that the story doesn't actually require Daddy Warbucks to be a white guy either. Given who all is involved in producing it (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Z), it's hardly any sort of stretch to assume that he just might be played by, say, Taye Diggs or Jamie Foxx or Will Smith.

    Posted by: Craig S | Feb 25, 2013 12:49:28 PM

  11. @ Derrick

    "Who has Hollywood ridiculously cast as Jesus Christ in movies for the last 100 years?"

    The genealogy of Jesus as we know it is described in the Bible, the only source for information on Jesus. He was a Hebrew, of the Asian caucasian clan of Shem whilst European caucasians are of the clan of Yapeth. He has been portrayed by caucasian actors over the last 100 years, generally with some effort to make him more ethnically compatible with an Eastern Mediterranean nation.

    Your point?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 12:55:05 PM

  12. Blacks killed my family so I hates blacks

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:00:17 PM

  13. @David Hearne: er, no, actually usually with *no* effort to make him more ethnically compatible with an Eastern Mediterranean nation. (Jim Caviezel? Willem Dafoe? Christian Bale? Max von Sydow?!?) *That* was Derrick's point.

    Posted by: Craig S | Feb 25, 2013 1:04:41 PM

  14. As a son and brother of women, I have to say that ANYONE, regardless of his or her position in the entertainment industry or elsewhere, up to and including talking about women to whom we might all think it applies (Ann Coulter or Carolyn McCarthy) knows that the C-word cannot be used without risk of humorless or angry response. Now I understand that in Scotland it's an everyday remark used universally to refer to a difficult man or woman, or a lug nut that won't budge.

    It's like the N-word - reason doesn't enter into the discussion, and the discussion is derailed as soon as it's uttered because now we have to argue about terminology. That's sort of the point of political correctness, but in the case of these two words, it's simple enough to allow the walking wounded to command the language to this small degree.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:04:43 PM

  15. "...generally with some effort to make him more ethnically compatible with an Eastern Mediterranean nation."

    You mean like Jeffrey Hunter? Blonde hair and blue eyes?

    My point is what others on this thread have more eloquently point out. Little Orphan Annie is a fictional character, and it's a f.cking musical. There is no need for accuracy about race or ethinicity.

    The very person this discussion is about was playing a part that on the stage was a little white boy. The playwright changed the character's race when she adapted it for the screen.

    You want accuaracy in casting? When they do a revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar"--cast Lenny Kravitz in the lead role. He's descended from Hebrews, aint he?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 25, 2013 1:10:28 PM

  16. Craig -

    Beard and a tan. The Bible says he was the fairest, so go a shade lighter than Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi and what do you have?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:11:01 PM

  17. Huh?

    Posted by: DAVID HEARNE | Feb 25, 2013 1:12:44 PM

  18. @David Hearne: What you have is Swedish Jesus von Sydow. Love that historical verisimilitude!

    Posted by: Craig S | Feb 25, 2013 1:14:32 PM

  19. Stop thinking you're all better than me just because you don't hate black people like I was raised to.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:16:12 PM

  20. Dude. Were you dropped on your head as a child?

    Posted by: Craig S | Feb 25, 2013 1:20:12 PM

  21. Sorry but I don't know what's funnier... The joke or the stick that's up some people's...

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 25, 2013 1:20:13 PM

  22. No, I was not dropped. I was taught to be proud of being a white gun owner who doesn't like feminists. My mother knew she had no business leaving the kitchen and that if she wasn't polishing my dad's knob she should be polishing her son's guns. And when I promised to never date another guy or associate with blacks, they bought me a Christmas present for the first time in 15 years.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:24:37 PM

  23. Derrick -

    Jeffrey Hunter was eye candy, no doubt.

    We're talking about a person from folklore who allegedly lived in recorded history. Israel was ruled by Rome and had long before been conquered by, well, almost everyone. In particular though, the Hebrews had been ruled "and spoiled" by the Babylonians. It's unlikely (but possible) that Jesus had blue eyes, that's about all one can honestly say on that subject.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:27:00 PM

  24. No reason to call a child that word. Ever. a 9-year old shouldn't even know what that word means, let alone have a popular twitter account call her one for the world to see. I get Onion humor, but this is TOO FAR.

    Posted by: reality | Feb 25, 2013 1:28:18 PM

  25. Craig - You shouldn't have too much trouble figuring out which posts are actually mine and which ones are Kiki or some other bipolar person spoofing under my name.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 25, 2013 1:30:37 PM

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