‘The Onion’ Called Quvenzhané Wallis the ‘C’ Word


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

Buzzfeed writes:

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


  1. BEAHBEAH says

    This is The Onion for Pete’s sake, nothing is sacred to them. I actually thought it was hilarious.

    But humor is subjective… whatever. No matter what the joke, there’s always someone out there who will get offended.

  2. Secrets81 says

    By far my favorite swear – mainly cause it has more feather-ruffling power than the others. Especially with the people who deserve the word :)

  3. says

    I know it is all subjective, but “Annie” which is based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” as black. Don’t see the relevance. It would be like making “Fat Albert” and his cronies white. As for “The Onion” they are hit or miss…this one missed.

  4. Keppler says

    Should be interesting to see how she does in Annie. This little girl has, as I understand it, had one breakout role, and she was spectacularly good in that. But, I imagine a great, young director may have had a lot to do with shaping that performance as well. Let’s hope she can sustain the quality of her acting as she takes on other roles with other directors.

  5. Tom says

    Wasn’t this tweet in response to Seth’s rhyming joke during the show? He mentioned Helen HUNT and then he said Q was….a DORABLE. (Insert C word for the joke)??

  6. Jack M says

    Calling a nine-year old a word like this is reprehensible. There’s no excuse for it, not even if it’s for a laugh.

  7. Jersey says

    She was so amazing in Beasts and she looks just like my favorite niece. I feel a little protective of her. Are they saying she’s going to be in the Broadway production of Annie with Jane Lynch?

  8. Derrick from Philly says

    Thank you, JACK M. Thank you for not going along with the ugliest stereotype of b.tchy homosexuals–that’s what we’re reading this morning on Towleroad.

  9. Belthazar says

    It is shocking that anyone would defend this as a joke. First, the word is derogatory and demeaning. Second, we are talking about a child which as Jack stated is reprehensible on its face. Finally, if they would have said, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Frank Ocean is kind of a self-righteous FAGGOT, right?”

    I’m sure the responses would have been, “It’s the Onion for Pete’s sake” and “By far my favorite swear – mainly cause [sic] it has more feather-ruffling power than the others; especially with the people who deserve the word :).”

  10. Brian says

    Oh please.

    Hollywood puts a child on a pedestal, including sexualizing her, and you’re supposed to cheer.

    The Onion mocks Hollywood’s hypocrisy, and the pearl-clutching brigade rush out to scream about how offensive it is and how she’s “just a little girl!”

    That’s the whole point, you sorry numbnuts. You’re putting a little girl in the bright lights and making her play “adult” for your own gratification. You sick, sick freaks!

  11. Hugh says

    She’s nine years old… I know most of you will never have children of your own to raise and protect… but for God’s sake she’s nine years old, that’s all you need to know.

  12. Pete N SFO says

    They totally missed on this one… if there was a joke in there, they could have done the same w/o using the word c#%$.

    I like The Onion a lot, but you don’t get to put an innocent, accomplished kid, next to that word. Nope.

  13. says

    I think it’s a funny joke because it’s clearly making fun of us and the media for how we judge stars; it’s sending that up. However, it’s not a good idea because she’s 9 and could see that and, well, satire and “9” does not mix.

    As for the comments about Little Orphan Annie and race, you guys are way off. It’s NOTHING like changing the races in SHOWBOAT or any other very race-specific work. Why can’t an orphanage be filled with little black kids, in the Depression or now? I’m not a fan of color-blind casting when it is historically unbelievable, but that’s not the case here at all.

    Loved BEASTS…beautiful movie.

  14. Caliban says

    Oh for f*cks sake. It’s a JOKE. This is very similar to the “scandal” when Kathy Griffin asked (very young at the time) Dakota Fanning if she’d just gotten out of rehab.

    Did she really think that Dakota had just gotten out of rehab? No. Is Q Wallis really a “c*nt”? No. It’s just a a joke about their age and (presumed) innocence, clearly not meant to be taken seriously.

  15. MichaelJ says

    @Belthazar’s comment is well taken. An even better example would be if in 2000, when “the Sixth Sense” was up for 6 Oscars, the Onion had remarked: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Haley Joel Osment [then 11-years old] sure is a prissy little faggot, right?”

    PS Ditto what Matthew Retenmund said about why having a black Little Orphan Annie is not inappropriate or contrary to original material.

  16. says

    For a minute there I thought I wandered into the YouTube Comments section.

    Once again, the hypocrisy and not-very-subtle racism of the gay community shows itself to be the disgusting artifact for which it is. No empathy, no understanding, just cheap shots and internalized hate. There are a few excellent points being raised and instead of trying to understand, or at the very least respond to a thoughtful insight, it gets ignored. Shame on you.

  17. niles says

    The real crime is the Academy exploiting a nine year old girl by nominating her for an award she had no business being considered for.

  18. N says

    The onion was finishing Seth’s joke from the broadcast. It just didn’t make sense to anyone without context.

  19. jawole says

    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?

  20. jawole says

    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?

  21. David Hearne says

    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.

  22. Derrick from Philly says

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

  23. troybob says

    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.

  24. Craig S says

    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.

  25. troybob says

    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.

  26. Chitown Kev says

    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

  27. MichaelJ says

    @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.

  28. Craig S says

    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.

  29. David Hearne says

    @ 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?

  30. Craig S says

    @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.

  31. David Hearne says

    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.

  32. Derrick from Philly says

    “…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?

  33. David Hearne says

    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?

  34. David Hearne says

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

  35. Michael says

    Sorry but I don’t know what’s funnier… The joke or the stick that’s up some people’s…

  36. David Hearne says

    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.

  37. David Hearne says

    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.

  38. reality says

    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.

  39. David Hearne says

    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.

  40. David Hearne says


    The role of Jesus in JCS has been played by a black actor for some time now. It was considered brave in its day. Now it’s just as tired as the rest of that show.

  41. Craig S says

    That’s actually kind of irrelevant to my point; regardless of whether the posts in question are coming from you or from somebody trying to spoof you, *somebody* clearly got dropped on their head.

  42. Belthazar says

    @MichaelJ: Yes, better example!

    @Belthazar’s comment is well taken. An even better example would be if in 2000, when “the Sixth Sense” was up for 6 Oscars, the Onion had remarked: “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Haley Joel Osment [then 11-years old] sure is a prissy little faggot, right?”

  43. kedskicks says

    I saw a couple of interviews with that kid. I kind of agree with the tweet, which for me means it is not satire. I thought the kid was rude. Actually what I thought was, “That kid is kind of an a**h***.” Perhaps the writer was using hyperbole, but it should not have been stated, regardless.

  44. rod says

    Pathetic. They should have doubled down on the joke. American society is full of degenerate scum and garbage, the Onion is one of the few media outlets that actually reveals truth.

  45. Firestorm says

    On one hand, The Onion is know for biting and sometimes offensive satire.

    On the other hand, they’re calling a 9 year old girl a c**t.

    I feel that this is one of those times when The Onion went just a bit too far. At least they were willing to admit that they did, yanked the tweet, and apologized to the girl.

    It might have been funny if Quvenzhane was in on the joke or was old enough to understand that it was satire, but this was not the case.

  46. Randy says

    McFarlane expressly did NOT sexualize her. The whole joke (at Clooney’s expense) is that’s she would not be an appropriate sex parner.

    Please obtain humor.

  47. Pathetic says

    This is pathetic. The Onion never has been and never will be funny. Anyone who thought this “joke” was funny needs help.

  48. Yeek says

    The Onion is allowed to be offensive, we are allowed to rebuke them, and they may choose to apologize. A win-win-win for free speech.

  49. Shannon says


  50. says

    It’s people like most of those commenting that it’s okay to treat anyone as the 9 year old was treated that are the cause of the lack of civilization and courtesy going on in the world today. Sexual jokes about people are NOT funny just bullying is not funny, as a matter of fact sexual jokes are a form of bullying. Since most people have been dumbed down and raised without one iota of home training they laugh at inappropriate things we need to get back to basics like Emily Post.