Let's Try and Take a Calm, Reasoned Common Sense Approach to The Tasteless Tweet From "The Onion"
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Let's Try and Take a Calm, Reasoned Common Sense Approach to The Tasteless Tweet From The Onion

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | February 25, 2013 | Comments ()


Last night, after the Oscar telecast, a kerfuffle blew up, mostly on Twitter, about a vile, reprehensible tweet from, The Onion, the 25-year-old, amazing, hilarious, and satirical publication that we all quote, tweet, or share on our Facebook walls at least five times a year. They were clearly trying to be funny, and likely parodying Seth MacFarlane's sense of humor in last night's Oscar show, full of (mostly lame) jokes exploiting gender, race, and sexual orientation stereotypes.

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Most reasonable people can believe that the tweet was in sh*tty taste, not necessarily for using the C-word (which I loathe), but because it was directed at an adorable nine-year-old girl coming off of probably the most exciting night of her life (the use of the word itself is unacceptable in most instances, but The Onion has managed to use the N-word to good effect when ridiculing racists).

Reasonable minds may disagree on whether the use of either the C-word or the N-word is appropriate in any context, but given The Onion's history of skewering racists, homophobes, and far right-wing conservatives, I'm willing to allow for some comedic leeway in order to achieve those same goals. Using it against a cute, Oscar nominated girl, however, I'm not so willing to allow for a benefit of the doubt.

Many on Twitter agreed. In fact, around 1:30 a.m. EST, Twitter went into meltdown mode. It turned into a cable news channel. The Wire's Wendell Pierce led the charge against The Onion.

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The Onion quickly deleted the tweet, but made no apology nor did it address the tweet (as of this posting). Meanwhile, a lot of folks continue to pile on The Onion, while on the other side, many defended The Onion's use of the word in the context of satire. Unfortunately, many of those people -- in trying to provide their defense -- made it worse. I'm sorry, but there's never really a situation in which you sound reasonable when you're defending someone's use of the C-word directed at a nine year old, no matter the context, and you're not helping yourself when you throw up First Amendment arguments because THE FIRST AMENDMENT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

It was a sh*tty, inexcusable tweet.

But, it was probably one guy running the Twitter feed for The Onion who had nobody looking over his shoulder or ensuring that all of his tweets met a certain threshold for good taste. It was late. He'd probably been tweeting all night. He may have had too much to drink. He tweeted something reprehensible. He should probably be held accountable for it. But let's not throw the entire publication and their 25-year history out because of one guy's stupid, misguided mistake (and by deleting the tweet, he at least acknowledged it was a mistake). He was trying to be funny. He failed, although chances are, on most days, whoever the writer is, he's probably funnier, more perceptive, and smarter than most of us. I mean, he writes for The Onion, after all (the 516 Retweets and 411 Favorites, well, that's a little less excusable).

I think calling the one guy out, shaming him, and berating him on social media, and in countless online and print publications is sufficient. Pierce is right to demand the The Onion identity the writer, so at least we can direct our umbrage at the appropriate person. I don't think it's necessary that we marshall a public protest, burn The Onion in effigy, and then hold everyone that writes for The Onion and The AV Club accountable for the actions of one writer who made made one tweet in terrible taste. Ninety-eight percent of the people who work for The Onion never would've made the joke, and ninety-percent of them believe it was in bad taste, but it hardly seems appropriate to ask them to quit their jobs in protest because of one guy's stupidity. That's just dumb. Don't be dumb.

Anyway, I'm sure it will all blow over by later today when The Onion comes up with the perfect headline that allows them to both admit their guilt and mock those on both side of the C-word debate. But most importantly, we shouldn't let a dumb tweet overshadow Quvenzhane Wallis's brilliant work on Beasts of the Southern Wild and her well-deserved Oscar nomination.


Update: The Onion has apologized. Can we go back to loving the publication again?

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Buck Forty

    Why have you made the presumption that it was a male who sent out this tweet? Isn't that a bit sexist?

  • ,

    Aside from all this ...

    "Quvenzhane Wallis’s brilliant work"

    Wait, what? How old was she when they shot the movie? 6?

    "Work"? Really?

    What are the Oscars doing nominating 6-year-olds for anything? I'm more offended that the Oscars used a 6-year-old as a publicity stunt.

  • GeoSF

    I love satire. I love parodies. I'm a San Fran liberal with a raucous sense of humor, and I can hurl profanities with the best of them. The Onion has given me many a good laugh over the years. But it is NEVER . . . NEVER . . . ok to call a nine-year-old girl a c*nt. NEVER. Not even in satire. Because even satire has a line of decency when it comes to children.

    However, for those of you (like me) who feel that the Tweet in question crossed that line, save your breath when trying to explain to ZestyItalian2, and others, why this was just plain wrong. Because it's downright impossible to explain such a breach of common sense and common decency to a complete and total d*ck. (Oops . . . Just kidding! Only satire!)

  • Jezzer

    It's kind of interesting that people who are offended by the tweet are also lashing out and insulting people that weren't.

  • Anna von Beav

    There's another point here that I feel is being overlooked.

    Quvenzhane is nine. When I was nine, I didn't even know The C-Word existed. When I was ten, I read it in a book. I was sitting on the couch next to my dad at the time, and asked him what it was. With much facial redness and some minor
    sputtering, he explained that it was "a not-very-nice word for a lady's private parts." I was mortified and asked for no further explanation; thereafter, I simply considered it a curse word like the rest.

    My point is this: At ten, I did not know, nor would I have understood, the connotations and the implications of The C-Word. There is a great deal of projection happening concerning this, and I think it's misplaced. She, in all likelihood, will not have the same reaction to this as the adults who are in a frenzy all around the web. In all likelihood, she wouldn't even have known about it if everybody in the world who is righteously offended by The Word wasn't harping on and on and on to the point where it is now news in massive national outlets, and screengrabs of the DELETED tweet are now posted EVERYWHERE. I sincerely doubt the child reads The Onion; if everyone had just shut the hell up about it, it would have gone away, on account of having been deleted, and she wouldn't have to hear it. Instead, Fox News now has their shitty hands all up in it, and since Quvenzhane will now be making the interview rounds as an Oscar nominee, OF COURSE they'll ask her about it, as though she is an adult. Which is ironic, given all the wailing about how she is Just An Innocent Child.

    Additional point: the girl has parents, one of whom is a teacher; surely they, having raised her to this point, can handle explaining this to her, should the need arise. Surely the child is not a regular Onion reader. Surely her parents can be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding satire, and can be trusted to decide whether to forgive The Onion its transgression.
    They have three other children; surely they have had to deal with the
    issue of bad words prior to this.

    Now. I will grant you this: I am not as offended by The C-Word as most people seem to think I should be. I am firmly in the camp of "It Is Just A Word, And It Cannot Hurt Me" in general (the one exception to this, for me, is The N-Word; the difference being that the word currently under discussion, among others, was perverted from its original meaning to be derogatory, while the other was created specifically for the purpose of being derogatory). And while I understand intellectually that many people do not agree with me, I still cannot help but think that the righteous outrage over the (deleted) tweet is what's going to wind up hurting the girl more in the long run than if she *had* actually seen it and had to say, “Dad, what’s a c***?”

  • abuja19

    Even tn the context of "satire" or "comedy", that particular comment was extremely low of The Onion. They deserve every bit of disgust and backlash levied against them.

  • Guest

    Even tn the context of "satire" or "comedy", that particular comment was extremely low of The Onion. They deserve every bit of disgust and backlash levied against them.

  • csb

    It's disappointing that The Onion have backed down like this.

    I didn't find the tweet funny but I did understand where they were coming from with it. It's a pity they've been silenced this time around by the fragile souls.

    Where now will it end? Will we see a Cartman-type use it the way that character attempted to do in South Park against Family Guy?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm more bothered by the boobs song than I am by this. For one thing, you know which of the people The Onion called a c*nt is least likely to read it on Twitter? Wallis. You know which is least likely to know what it means, the background of the word, the way the word is used, or the "import" of the word? Wallis.

    It was a joke, it's the Onion, and while I understand people being upset about it - and I don't doubt that the people retweeting it retweeted it because of the "I can't believe someone just said that" factor rather than because it was sharp satire - I think this website/community doesn't really have the moral high horse to stand on in terms of appropriate language or humor.

  • LB

    How amusing would it be if this was your nine-year-old who was targeted in this tweet?

  • Jezzer


  • Jezzer

    To be fair, my 9-year-old really is kind of a c*nt.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Louis C.K. posts here everyone!

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Political correctness = the death of good comedy.

  • e jerry powell

    I'm trying to balance the offense I feel about this tweet with the umbrage Steven Spielberg took at Kathy Griffin's "Dakota Fanning is in rehab" bit. At least (PROFESSIONAL COMEDIAN) Kathy Griffin put her own name on it when she did it.

  • Salad_Is_Murder

    I was called all sorts of unspeakable and hateful things as a child by people who MEANT it. Where were all of you, so quick to defend the innocent and helpless?
    You care up to the point where you actually have to do something and ya'll can go fuck yourselves with your righteous indignation.

    It was funny.

  • debtfree9

    I admit it......I disliked Seth MacFarlane's jokes and I thought the Onion went over the line about Quvenzhane. Tasteless.

  • Guest

    I suppose overly politically correct Twitterians didn't understand the humor in making fun of overly political correctness. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I suppose The Onion will have to wait for a white mature male, to be more politically correct in humor that fails to be parody.

  • stryker1121

    FWIW i thought the joke was effective amid all the baseless hate Twitter has for Hathaway, et al. I take the satire for what it's worth and don't think the Onion should have pulled it. Piece's comments I found a bit ridiculous and OTT, particularly "identify the writer."

  • KZoeT

    "But, it was probably one guy running the Twitter feed for The Onion
    who had nobody looking over his shoulder or ensuring that all of his
    tweets met a certain threshold for good taste. It was late. He’d
    probably been tweeting all night. He may have had too much to drink. He
    tweeted something reprehensible. He should probably be held accountable
    for it. But let’s not throw the entire publication and their 25-year
    history out because of one guy’s stupid, misguided mistake (and by
    deleting the tweet, he at least acknowledged it was a mistake)."

    It wasn't a mistake. It was words purposefully chosen and published for shock value. The writer can say whatever he wants but when you use abusive words about a 9-year old girl, you better fucking be prepared for some backlash. Hiding behind the "it was a joke!" lame excuses doesn't make the words any less abusive or dehumanizing. Using an exceedingly offensive word - and one that's a very powerful word for abusers - against someone (a 9 year-old African American girl) is not ok. Ever. The Onion is rightfully getting slammed on this.

    Saying the writer may have been drunk or didn't have someone holding his hand and approving tweets before publishing is simply outrageous. This isn't a random blogger troll, this is a publication with a 25-year history. They fucking know better.

  • frozen01

    It's not a lame excuse. It WAS a joke. It was satire, and (unless you somehow think the writer secretly believes this little girl actually is a c***) the joke wasn't even directed at her.

  • AudioSuede

    I for one am glad The Onion hasn't released the name of the writer. If a publication is known for throwing its writers under the bus, they lose credibility and their staff loses the security of taking risks.

    Sure, cases like this are more clear-cut because the tweet was truly offensive (and while I could work out an argument for it being legitimate satire, it really isn't worth it because it's just too hot-button and really, no one wins in this fight). But If they are willing to toss a writer to the lions for writing that tweet, why wouldn't they do it when anyone at The Onion writes something that someone finds offensive (as they very often do)? I know slippery-slope arguments are flimsy, but in this case, it's a legitimate conflict.

    They need to handle it in-house and trust that the writer will be sufficiently punished, maybe even fired, and not force them to live their lives as "the man/woman who calls children awful names on the internet."

  • duckandcover

    While I don't agree with what The Onion did, I agree with this.

  • Slash


    First, I didn't watch the Oscars. It's an increasingly irrelevant circle jerk. And it sounds like Seth McFarlane didn't exactly hit it out of the park.

    Calling a little girl a c__t is pretty harsh. I get where they were going with it, kinda. but still. Not really funny. See, this is what people do. They say something "jokingly" in the most offensive manner imaginable, then when you object, they say you don't have a sense of humor. They get to pretend they're funny and that people only have a problem with it because they're uptight and "politically correct." Yes, very subversive. Kudos to that Onion writer for striking a blow against a tiny 9-year-old girl. It's about time those uppity bitches learned some humility.

    How about we just not call people loathsome names unless they've done something loathsome to deserve them and use the gender-neutral term "asshole" instead of loaded words like "bitch" or "c__t"?

  • frozen01

    The writer wasn't "striking a blow against" any 9-year-old girls, but the idiots who tweet offensive things about people they've never met. It's pretty clear that the writer doesn't *actually* think she's a c***.

  • Slash

    Yeah, it's clear the Onion doesn't actually think that. It's still not funny. Jokes are supposed to be funny. And enough people think it's not funny that I think the consensus is, it's not funny. I guess that makes it a "joke."

    We already know idiots tweet offensive shit about people they've never met. That's not really a revelation.

  • Cree83

    I'm having trouble with the people that are saying "it's satire" as a defense. Yes, I realize it's satire. Yes I realize that Wallis is not actually the intended target of the joke. But she's a little kid, and she may not have the same grasp of irony as you and I, and the adult writers of a humor publication. They made a public tweet calling her a horrible name, on a night that is supposed to be special and exciting for her, knowing it could be something she reads or hears about, and knowing she might not get the intent - because she's a freaking child. To echo Christopher Plummer, pick on someone your own size.

  • everythingl

    I listened to an interview on NPR with some people from The Onion. Yes, even THEY said that there are some jokes that they back off of because it's in poor taste. The "it's satire" defense seems to be arguing that even in satire there aren't boundaries. And that's absurd. There are boundaries in everything. It's not that people don't get the joke, it's that the joke was in poor taste. Make those kinds of jokes about adults. Not kids.

  • AudioSuede

    Well, there aren't boundaries in satire, but The Onion has boundaries because they have advertisers and aren't insane. But the point of satire is that it doesn't have to pull punches, and that everything's on the table, and that it doesn't matter if it's in poor taste or about kids. I'm not saying it's not offensive, or that we shouldn't be upset about this particular incident. But saying that it's invalid because satire has boundaries is incorrect. It qualifies as satire, it's all just a matter of how we feel about it.

  • everythingl

    There aren't "boundaries" in any kind of speech. But there are consequences for what you say in a public forum. That's what we're talking about here. I figured that was understood.

  • AudioSuede

    Just clarifying the point.

  • Mrs. Julien's Feminist Rage

    I am still deeply offended and angered in a bone shaking rage after the "We Saw Your Boobs" song last night and here's why:

    This was not some anonymous website where people freely comment on the sexual attractiveness of others [cough]. The Oscars, for the people in attendance, are a business event, a work function. They attend in a professional context. These women are aware that every day, people discuss their bodies, or surf for photos of them naked. It is a given of their professional lives. What they should not have to cope with, and what is supremely disrespectful, is a business function at which the host freely sings for several minutes about seeing them nude. No matter how hard these women work, or how successful they are, MacFarlane reminded them, at the end of the day, all you are is your body.

    The Sally Field Flying Nun bit was an even more egregrious example of the patronizing and incredibly sexist attitude on display. She is 63 years old. She has two richly-deserved Oscars and is nominated for another one, but all the host of the event can see fit to do is remind her how sexually-attractive she was 40 years ago. It is not flattering. It is belittling. I honestly expected the punchline to be Sally Field slapping MacFarlane, or throwing a drink in his face. It's like going to a work dinner and the woman who has worked her way up from the "steno pool" to a senior officer in the company is told by the M.C. how great her ass was when she started working at the company. On television, in front of a billion people, that same woman is expected to say, "Oh,
    you", put up with it, and play along, and she did!.

    This is the point at which many people will say it was a joke, or "where's your sense of humour?" Why should over a dozen women have to sit and smile through someone's puerile display of disrespect as some sort of proof that they are a good sport? Why is that their responsibility? Helen Hunt looked ready to slice MacFarlane in two which seemed to me the appropriate reaction.

    For the record, I also found it offensive when that reporter made Fassbender identify celebrity genitalia in an interview, most especially so when he later showed Fassbender a photo of his own penis during a red carpet interview.

    Despite my long-winded effort here, I don't think I have even begun to convey just how angry all of this makes me. I'm appalled by everyone who participated in this bullsh*t. I want to scream at the people who wrote the song and then the produces who decided it was okay to include it. I want to berate Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence for participating. I want to corner Seth MacFarlane and rage at him for a good 45 minutes, but I know that with people like him there is no recourse. Even if you calmly and cogently convey your
    distress/disapproval/ire, you will be dismissed, probably with a insult involving your physical appearance, or presumed jealousy.

    [Descent into teeth gnashing and incoherent, curse-laden expostulations.]

  • ScienceGeek

    I'll admit, I haven't seen the song, but I read this morning that at least two of those 'We saw your boobs' moments were rape scenes.

    Okay, it's the internet, it's anonymous and you can be honest - is there anyone out there who watched the gang-rape in Boys Don't Cry and went 'Oooh! Swank's boobs!' ? Is that a thing?

  • AudioSuede

    I've been trying to stay away from this comment, because clearly you're very angry about the subject, but it's gotten a little out of hand.

    The problem with your argument is that it ignores the context of the bit in question. The song was bookended by William Shatner explaining that Seth MacFarlane was going to be viewed very negatively after the show because of the song, because it would be sexist and make the actresses in question uncomfortable. This doesn't excuse the content of the song, but what it does is make the host the subject of ridicule for his actions, because we are told outright that his actions are wrong and he should be viewed with criticism for thinking they're acceptable.

    It's the classic Archie Bunker premise: The joke of the moment isn't the offensive material itself, but rather the way it reveals the offensive nature of the person presenting that material, thus making the person open for criticism and deprecation.

    In this case, what's funny about the song isn't the song, but rather the fact that performing the song makes Seth MacFarlane look like an ass, as clearly registered both by the fake "negative reviews" Shatner shows him and by the "reactions" of the actresses in the audience who participated in the gag. The song standing on its own would be horrendous, but in its context it's made clear that the subject of the bit is not the various women of Hollywood but rather the misogynists who would think a song like that would be appropriate. MacFarlane makes himself into a clown to be laughed at, rather than a comedian laughing at the audience.

    It's MacFarlane's standard mode of comedy: Acting as a lightning rod not so that he can get away with saying offensive things, but so the audience can feel united in an understanding of him as a buffoon. When he makes a particularly offensive or sexist joke, he is shamed by it in the bit, thus making the audience feel superior and comforted in the understanding that they would not do or say anything like that in their lives and they are thus safe from the same ridicule.

    If you feel offended by the content of the song, you're reacting correctly. But if your reaction extends no further than the confines of the song content itself, you're ignoring the larger point and doing a disservice to the people, including the actresses who participated in the song, who read the whole context and were not offended.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    No, no and no. The fact that they hedged their bets by making it a bit-within-a-bit made me angry - they got to have their naughty joke and slap their own wrists that it was inappropriate. But I don't think people laughed any less at the song because of it. If they had *mentioned* - well, you can't do that "I saw your boobs" song - that would've been sufficient - the full on production number? NO.

  • Yossarian

    Except it's a little more complicated than that. You aren't absolved of all responsibility for what you say just because you put it in the mouth of a buffoonish, ridiculous character. Especially not one so clearly pleased with himself.

    Mrs. Julien's Feminist Rage is a very valid criticism of the tone of that sketch which was gleeful celebration of the implicit dominance over accomplished female actors because we've seen their breasts (complete with annotations so you can, too!) and it was shockingly disrespectful way to open an event that is purportedly about honoring them.

  • AudioSuede

    The tone of the sketch was to criticize misogyny, and it enabled the actresses mentioned to feel vindicated that they can, and should, feel comfortable in responding negatively to the sort of person who brazenly objectifies them for their bodies. If all they did was play the song on its own, I would agree with you wholeheartedly. But they didn't. They took an uncomfortable subject (Hollywood sexism) and turned the negativity back on the perpetrators.

  • mswas

    They should have gone farther with this and had MacFarlane (or someone) stop the "clip" in the middle with some scathing moment (Theron waltzing on stage to slap him?) The fact that they gleefully played the song in entirety was just going too far.

  • Sara_Tonin00


  • Yossarian

    Well, if you honestly believe that sketch was somehow empowering to women you are entitled to your opinion. I disagree. I question your critical faculties. I reserve my right to a contrary opinion. But ok. That's certainly an interesting take on it.

    I mean, maybe if objectifying women's bodies wasn't the cultural norm, and maybe if we didn't have extremely popular websites devoted to taking still images and video clips of said boobs out of context for prurient use to be shared and commented on by anonymous internet denizens and maybe if the entire Holywood/ celebrity industry didn't so aggressively pursue the sexualization and exploitation of women's bodies then maybe I could see it your way. If I believed the perspective being lampooned actually was being presented as socially unacceptable and unpopular instead of being celebrated in the most juvenile locker room high-five way imaginable at a mainstream event broadcast all around to world to an audience of billions. But I don't see it.

  • frozen01

    I agree with everything you just said, though perhaps (and I'm just throwing it out there, because seriously it's the Oscars and I don't really care that much) it would've been better to leave that as a sketch on Family Guy instead of a professional event?

  • Yossarian

    This is a great comment.

  • chanohack

    It also promoted the idea that the most special thing about a woman is her purity. If we've seen your boobies, we get to make fun of you, and if we haven't, you're still okay! I was disappointed in the cameos because I think there's too much pressure to be down with all the jokes, but I was really bummed that Charlize covered her eyes in shame and Jennifer fist bumped in celebration. If a reporter or colleague actually said to one of them, "So, I totally know what your boobs look like," or "Hey, I haven't seen your boobs... yet" that would be gross and weird, right? The song was gross and weird.

  • cruzzercruz

    Nobody is listening to you, lash out in another adjective-laden feminist rant. That'll show them.

  • duckandcover

    I have your keys. The cab's waiting outside.

  • TK

    I'm listening to her, you obnoxious, ignorant, misogynist limp-dicked fuckhead. If you had a goddamn working neuron in your 13 year-old brain, you would be too.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I don't care if they listen, or read, or think I use too many adjectives (fair play on that part). I said what I wanted to say and now I'm done -- which is a shame because it looks like PLove would have been the better place for my feminist rant. And so it goes.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Don't care about this. At all. The C-bomb was over the top, but the kid is really annoying.

  • Peezy

    Oh fucking waaaah. It was clearly a joke, and fairly funny too. These are the same people that whined like babies when Daniel Tosh put a heckler in her fuckin' place last year. When will internet white-knight heroes stop being "offended" by every single little thing? Stop taking shit so damn seriously.

  • everythingl

    I'm so sick of people being perpetually offended by other people being offended.

  • I'ma leave this here: http://www.hsoi.com/resources/...

  • everythingl

    I would offer a witty response but I can't see whatever it is you're trying to show me. Bad link.

  • Whoops. It was the 'offensensitivity' cartoon from 'Bloom County.' Try this one:http://robotfromthefuture.com/...

  • Jakesalterego

    Way to go, Internet. The Onion broke kayfabe.


    I'm glad the apology is followed by the headline "While I'm Glad I Won, I Personally Believe That Abraham Lincoln Deserved To Die" so we can be reminded of just how fucking ridiculous this is.

  • hilsull

    nope, fuck that. she's 9.

  • I think we should all change our Facebook statuses, start a boycott, and write soul searching Tumblr posts about whether or not we can continue to 'ethically consume' The Onion.

  • The onion just apologized on Facebook. Put a link but down it went. At least I think it did.

  • Guest

    Its called humor, in which you bring to light parody. If people were pissed about this that demonstrates more about how uptight people are, and how too many are unable to laugh at themselves. Humility, WTF happened to it? Before you insult me for sounding too abrasive, I want you to take a big sniff of your own poop.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    No. No no no no. I'm SO tired of this excuse, that just because you didn't find it funny, you're somehow the one at fault. I'm not saying that The Onion is right or wrong, but this idea that things done in the name of humor are somehow bulletproof is ridiculous. It was a shit excuse during the Tosh debacle and it's a shit excuse now.

  • Guest

    If you don't get that a joke is ALWAYS a joke, go kill yourself.....Still not a joke, huh?
    I do hate the lack and death of rational multi-layered thinking, which is not a joke but the sad state of things.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    My point is that a joke is not automatically socially acceptable merely by virtue of being a joke. It doesn't somehow allow it to escape any semblance of criticism simply because the intent was to be funny. I'm not saying this was or wasn't funny. I'm saying that hiding behind the auspices of comedy isn't good enough.

    This isn't a question of me "not getting it." I'm not so simple that I don't understand the humor. In fact, I actually found it pretty funny, even if I'm not 100% comfortable with my own laughter. But just because something is meant as satirical doesn't mean that it works, and that it's inoffensive.

    But feel free to continue to inexplicably act victimized because I irreverently called you nuts, because man, THAT'S a tough insult to bear. Way worse than calling a little girl a c*nt. Thank god you have perspective.

  • Guest

    It was not auspices comedy directed at insult to any specific age, gender, or race. The joke (however not clear to you) was flipping the annoying political correctness associated with both Twitter, and the Oscars, well known for being overly politically correct to the point of nausea.

    The joke was, to do the exact opposite of being politically correct in the most heinous way possible. The concept is to flip in a reversal what would normally be considered acceptable. THAT IS THE JOKE! To demonstrate the most incorrect political way.

    Your assumption is that arguing a joke which is basically FICTION!!!!!!!!!! is somehow is reasonable because the mere mention is insult IN FICTION is valid reality.

    Are you to tell me that (fictional) Superman flying is insulting to birds, because that's what birds do?

    I understand your point, but you fail to see the pointlessness of arguing FICTION!!!!

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Holy shit. Now you're not making any sense at all. And I don't mean that as sarcasm, and it's not me being obtuse. Your comment literally does. not. make. sense. It is not coherent English. It is nonsensical. It is so rife with inconsistency, false equivalency, and simply poor grammar that it's transcended commentary and elevated itself into the realm of the absurd.

    What the fuck is "auspices comedy?" How the hell did Superman make his way into the room? And how many times do I need to explain to you that I UNDERSTAND THE JOKE. I UNDERSTAND WHAT SATIRE IS. I EVEN FOUND IT TO BE SOMEWHAT FUNNY. AM I USING TOO MANY LARGE WORDS FOR YOU?

    My argument has nothing to do with whether or not the joke is "true" (which is a completely idiotic conceit in the first place that's pretty much irrelevant to any discussion of humor, pro or con) or whether or not it's funny. It has nothing to do with whether or not it's satire or even if it's effective satire.

    What started this was you saying " If people were pissed about this that demonstrates more about how uptight people are, and how too many are unable to laugh at themselves" as if to say that people who don't find this funny don't get the joke. There's a disconnect there that you clearly don't grasp. Then you went on to say "If you don't get that a joke is ALWAYS a joke, go kill yourself." The disconnect THERE is that just because something is a joke, doesn't make it immune to criticism.

    But I don't know why I'm bothering explaining this, because much like how you perceive that I don't "get" the joke, you don't get my point.

    Because, well, you're kind of stupid.

    Get it?

  • Guest

    You do not understand the methodology of the joke, and based on some self-righteousness lack of rational conceptual thinking lack comprehensive skills.

    You see offense in certain words even in jokes that are fiction. Your one track thinking, is void of multi-conceptual thinking.

    I am a dumb as shit idiot, for trying desperately the be the dumb as shit idiot whisperer.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    You're adorable. It's like talking to a very simple child (who cannot write a coherent sentence to save his simple little life).

    Aw, sweetie, it'll be OK. Here's some bubble gum.

  • Guest

    God Of Balless-Sagnut, thank you.

  • Guest

    The joke was intended solely as parody of the political correctness BS you're reinforcing. It is not surprising that you don't get it. It is not an excuse. Your inability to comprehend this humor is fact. You've insulted me twice, once calling me nuts. That you cannot understand this humor, or that it wasn't an insult to the girl proves your lack of understanding.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Well, here you go folks. The Onion apologized:


    I thought that was a pretty reasoned, intelligent and well-thought out apology.

  • Guest

    Actually I think it is a joke again on those that found it offensive.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Are you nuts? I doubt a joke would have included an apology specifically directed at the little girl, as well as deleting the tweet. Did you even read it?

  • Guest

    You're could be right. Nuts? Yes, no, sometimes but not 100% of the time? I was hoping it was a joke with the statement:“In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.” which sounded rather funny. I honestly believe people are taking this far too seriously. Its a child, which the obvious intent was parody that no one would think to say such a thing. It was more about us, than directed at her.

  • APOCooter

    If you watched and enjoyed The Aristocrats, you hwve no business being offended at this joke. They both work off the same comedic concept. If you didn't like The Aristocrats and you're offended by this joke, you're well within your rights. But if you're offended, lets at least make sure you're not a hypocrite.

  • AudioSuede

    To be fair, they aren't working off the same comedic concept. The Aristocrats is a joke meant to shock and offend without any other purpose at all. This joke was a satire of Oscar critics on Twitter who vitriolically hate celebrities they don't even know because they can. I've enjoyed, and performed, The Aristocrats, and never have I performed it or heard it performed with any other goal than shock value. This joke aimed higher than that, though it's debatable whether it hit its target.

  • the dude

    Oh my god that is one hilarious tweet I don't know what the fuck is up with these people who criticize it. I laughed so hard. I call bullshit, and dustin's age is starting to show when it comes to these topics guys, becoming an angry 40 year old man

  • wsapnin

    Here's the thing... A joke is only a joke if it's funny. This was not funny. When you are blurring the lines between funny and edgy, it better damn well be funny or you just come off looking like an ass.

  • AudioSuede

    It wasn't funny to you. It's obviously funny to the people who retweeted and favorited it.

  • wsapnin

    I am going to guess it wasn't funny to 99.3% of the population. Listen, I don't have my panties in a twist over it by any means. I just don't think it was funny.

  • AudioSuede

    That's vastly overstating it. To be frank, I thought it was funny when I read it in the context of The Onion's Oscar feed, and I still think it's funny now. I wouldn't want to jump in front of it in the middle of a town hall debate, but I'm saying that comedy is subjective, and whether you think something is funny or not does not determine whether it does or does not qualify as a joke.

  • Deidra

    "This was not funny."

    I agree that the execution of the joke factors very heavily into how offensive it may appear to be, but not funny to whom? You mean objectively funny as if such a thing exists, whereas I thought something being funny doesn't fall neatly into an all-encompassing "Yes" or "No" category.


  • duckandcover

    But, it was probably one guy running the Twitter feed for The Onion who had nobody looking over his shoulder or ensuring that all of his tweets met a certain threshold for good taste. It was late. He’d probably been tweeting all night. He may have had too much to drink. He tweeted something reprehensible. He should probably be held accountable for it. But let’s not throw the entire publication and their 25-year history out because of one guy’s stupid, misguided mistake (and by deleting the tweet, he at least acknowledged it was a mistake). He was trying to be funny. He failed, although chances are, on most days, whoever the writer is, he’s probably funnier, more perceptive, and smarter than most of us. I mean, he writes forThe Onion, after all (the 516 Retweets and 411 Favorites, well, that’s a little less excusable).

    As Grumpy Cat says: "No."

  • toblerone

    It's was a joke. Get over it.

  • ZestyItalian2

    No, it CAN be excused. This is the sort of thing the Onion has been doing every goddamned day for years. Despite equivocation and protestations about understanding The Onion's oeuvre, it sort of sounds like Dustin (whose work is normally beyond reproach, etc. etc. etc.) has never read the damned thing.

    The joke is this: people watch the Oscars and reflexively make hyperbolically personal, mean, vulgar, comments about famous people. It is very much within the Oscar's wheelhouse and consistent with their humor to mock this practice by taking it to a ludicrous extreme- namely calling a little girl "the c-word" (don't want anyone fainting here.)

    To call out or punish the specific writer for doing pretty much EXACTLY what he's paid to do and what is expected of him, for writing a tweet that is absolutely consistent with the satirical voice of the publication, is extremely misguided.

    And may I also say that Dustin implicitly accusing the writer of racial animus- out of the clear blue sky and based on NOTHING- by conflating "the C word" with "the N word" is pretty goddamned abhorrent. That, and casually declaring that the deletion of the tweet is not only proof of the "mistake" but substantiates the rest of the breathless, overwrought speculation in this post.

    The Onion has gone after more vulnerable and less "fair" game than Ms. Wallis in the past. And, moreover, they were not attacking the young lady in question at all, but rather using her as the illustrative subject in a tweet satirizing Oscar viewers. I guess it's fine to get your knickers in a twist over something like this. The objection is not lost on me. But don't pretend to be down with what The Onion does and suddenly transform into a towering pillar of flaming umbrage over this.

  • kirbyjay

    Anyone who thinks calling a 9 year old a C--t under any pretext is not much different than the paparazzi chasing some celebrity's kid down the street.

    If you think she is just another celebrity who asked for it and can have it explained by her mother, then be a fly on the wall at her school or her neighborhood when a kid who heard about it ( and they will) calls her a c- -t. She can laugh with all of you who understand satire.

    Couldn't the Onion writer call someone besides a little girl a filthy name and still get a laugh? How about Meryl Streep or Mother Theresa?

    Yes, I will throw my body in front of her. Physical, emotional and verbal abuse against children should not be tolerated by anyone, not even you so-called hipsters who "get the joke"

  • kirbyjay

    It was wrong. I don't give a rats ass what the reasoning is. I don't care about satire, or sarcasm, or that people who say disgusting things about celebrities need a jolt, or that she is public meat now that she is a celebrity, or the first amendment for idiots, or how her bereft mother can explain the "irony" to her, or any of this stupid shit.

    It was verbally abusive to a child. Shame on all of you who think that's ok.

    To put it in perspective, nothing Seth MacFarlane said or sang last night offended me and I loved the boobs song so I am hardly a prude.
    But that was wrong

  • GeoSF

    @ZestyItalian2: No, it CAN'T be excused. I love the Onion. It's given me many a good laugh. I love satire and parody. But calling a 9-year-old child a c*nt in a publicly-read entertainment forum (and that IS what the Onion is) is inexcusable. Even in the broad world of satire and parody, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. This one crossed it.

  • Kylekap

    This is spot on. BUT...I can't help but wonder what that little girl is going to think of it if this instance becomes known to her. Satire isn't an easy thing to explain to a 9-year-old. Granted it was meant for a more adult eyes and ears - a public that understands The Onion's humor, but still...the satire will be lost on her and she'll be left wondering what she did to provoke something so awful. Satirically take down any adult you want, they can get it and deal with it, but to set your sights on a really little girl, even if it wasn't an attack on her, is still a bit rough. She's not going to get it.

  • frozen01

    Easy: "Dear, they're not making fun of you, they're making fun of the outrageous things people say about those they've never met because of things that don't matter *shows examples of what the Onion is making fun of*. They could've chosen anyone to make that point, and it just happened to be you, but that doesn't mean it was directed at you or that they think you're a bad person. It's kind of like if you were making fun of a bully by mimicking them and being really over-the-top about it".
    If the kid is smart enough to be there in the first place, she's probably smart enough to understand that well enough not to take it personally. Kids aren't as dumb as you seem to think.

  • ZestyItalian2

    ALSO, since when did we all become the adoptive parents of Quvenzhane Wallis? Adorable child, loads of talent. Love her. But saying that a magazine that has built a name on EXACTLY this sort of satire should curb their efforts to spare the potential confusion of one little girl is absurd. Especially when, as you say, SHE is not the person being "taken down". She is not the object of scorn. As said above, the value of a piece of writing, however short, should not be tied to it's ability to be misinterpreted either by humorless and/or stupid adults, or, for that matter, by children.

    The idea that Quvenzhane Wallis, as a 9 year old, should be off-limits entirely as an element of satirical writing has more currency with me than the fiction that The Onion was actually somehow attacking her. But even then, she's a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She's a public figure. That ship has sailed. She's part of the discussion. Those throwing their bodies in front of her are wasting their time.

  • explain all that to the 9 year old girl, her family, friends and community

  • ZestyItalian2

    Oh GOD. Take your pick of articles on The Onion's home page RIGHT NOW. Should apologies be issued to everyone lampooned? Their friends? Their family? Should the pearl-clutching "community" you reference be granted some sort of award for pain and suffering? Jesus Christ.

  • you've persuaded me. let's bring on more fun ways to call children really foul names.

    I can understand being unmoved one way or the other, i can understand being somewhat blind to the difference between potshots using professional public sphere adults and doing that with children(and I don't actually recall ever seeing that kind of language in the Onion before). What I don't get, is the amount of capitals-required outrage that some people feel about other people finding that calling a child a c*nt is over the line and ought be called out. They say you gotta pick your battles, good on you for being heavily invested in yours. valiant.

  • Maguita NYC

    There are internet sites where children should not be allowed to view. And The Onion is one of them.

    There are also sites where undiscerning adults, always on the ready to see persecution and discrimination, whether real or not, should not be allowed to view. And The Onion is one of them.

    The Onion is a fine line between tacky dirty snark and asshole. Sometimes you aim for snark, miss, and land fully on asshole. It happens to the best of us. Some sites are not okay with it, and get quite offended by it, and others like The Onion, just shake it off and move forward.

    It is an acquired taste. Not for everyone, especially not for those on the ready to be easily offended.

    For example, I for one never truly appreciated the "humor" in Andrew Dice Clay. Some call him genius, funny enough those same calling S. MacFarlane misogynist pig, and others just cannot stand the vulgar screech and forced tone of his delivery. Because of the content and context, I stay away from Andrew Dice Clay.

    Do I get that a young 9-year-old girl should not be called a c*nt. Of course I do. And I would be even more offended if I was raising a young girl. But I'm not forgetting either that The Onion, like dirty comedians such as Bob Sagett, Jim Norton, Jimmy Carr, and dirtier minds such as Ann Coulter (yuk), and AFA's Bryan Fischer are not meant for children, but are rather meant for a specific targeted adult audience.

  • ZestyItalian2

    Vulgarity-shaming and calls for civility? You're on the ropes, kid.

    Here's the thing: It wasn't a "potshot". At all. Look at the context of the series of tweets- they were calling everybody who graced the screen a c*nt. The object of derision via satire was Oscar viewers who watch the broadcast and cast nasty, over-the-top, venomous scorn on people they've never met based on the thinnest, most superficial factors, if any at all. It may not be for you, but this sort of humor has made The Onion one of the most celebrated satirical voices in the world, and I think they deserve more credit than they're getting.

    And that's the problem. You think The Onion was just being randomly awful to this little girl in the hopes that it might shock people into laughing. You have misjudged what they were doing entirely. And it's not their problem that you or anybody else either doesn't enjoy or can't understand satire.

  • Homestar

    I made another reply to this agreeing with Zesty, but apparently it was not allowed, because I managed to spell out the "c-word".

  • Robert

    You can support The Onion and find calling a 9 year old girl who never had any connection to Hollywood until being praised for a low-budget indie film a c-word offensive. It's not mutually exclusive. Is it in line with what The Onion does? Yes. Is it appropriate in the no-context world of 140 characters or less? That's debatable. A longer article in the actual paper would have made more sense than a random Tweet during the Oscars. If the context is essential to the joke and the Tweet provides no context, then the joke is a failure.

  • Robert

    Dropping this here since I'm now not the only loon arguing that the joke failed because it lacked context and wasn't funny: http://www.escapistmagazine.co...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    If the context is essential to the joke and the Tweet provides no context, then the joke is a failure.

    I'm gonna call BS on that statement. That's like all the news shows that take a single sentence from a politician vastly out of context, or only pull half the sentence, and use it to illustrate an offensive viewpoint. Punchlines build from the context of a joke.

  • Robert

    Completely different circumstance. THe joke here was showing hyperbole by calling a 9 year old the c-word. If the only way to get that it was a joke was to follow their feed all night and watch them call a series of nominees the c-word, then it's not exactly a Twitter-ready routine. A blog post could have sustained that structure as a callback. A clever hashtag could have provided context. That's not what happened.

    The political comparison is off base because no politician is going to condense an entire policy statement into a tweet. If you rip one line from a 15 minute speech, you're pulling things out of context. When you sharing someone's 140 character joke that a 9 year old is a c-word and there's nothing else in the tweet, you're not removing the context. The context was not provided.

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