Weighing In On Their Own Controversy, the Onion Brilliantly Satirizes Even When They're Satirizing Themselves
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Weighing In On Their Own Controversy, the Onion Brilliantly Satirizes Even When They're Satirizing Themselves

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | March 4, 2013 | Comments ()


The Onion finally gave us the post-racial, post-modern, post-Obama, post C-word headline we've been waiting for, as they addressed the controversy that erupted last week over calling nine-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis a c**t.

New Study Finds 'The Onion' Has Never Been More Popular, More Beloved, Or More Respected

Satire or self-fulfilling?

The text read, in part:

Following one of the finest and most widely praised weeks in the history of The Onion, a new study published today found that the trusted news outlet has never been more popular, more admired, or more respected among Americans, with record numbers of readers saying the last five or six days in particular constitute a veritable high watermark for the company. "I love The Onion's reporting now more than ever, especially their social media presence and live coverage of events, and I can't think of anything that has happened recently that would make me think they are anything but flawless and beyond reproach," said Onion reader James Harte, echoing the opinion of 311 million Americans who ranked the paper above all other news outlets in areas such as fairness and credibility, and who said they are unable to recall a single instance, particularly recently, in which they've ever been displeased with anything The Onion has said or done.

... and that's how you do that, folks. And now hopefully I won't have to try and spell Quvenzhané Wallis again until the release of the Annie remake, because I can't even get close enough in its spelling to get a helpful recommendation from Google. The controversy did, however, expose one man, Edward Champion, for the f***ing, narcissistic wackjob troll that he is.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Buck Forty

    I think I get it now:
    Seth MacFarlane was a no talent douche who ripped off The Simpsons to give us Family Guy, which wasnt as funny because it had all that douchey humor. But then he made Ted which we found kinda funny, which confused us, but thankfully he hosted the Academy Awards and was a real douchebag again so we could go back to hating him.
    He was such a douchebag that his douchery corrupted the otherwise awesome Onion, who called a kid a Cnut. Boy, that was NOT cool. But thankfully the Onion made a self deprecating joke about themselves a few days after their serious apology so everything is cool again. Yay!
    Meanwhile Joan Rivers is on Letterman making jokes about Adele's weight, but that's cool too because she's a woman so she doesn't incurr the same wrath of female bloggers who were outraged when Seth MacFarlane did it. (Not that he actually did - he was making a joke about Rex Reed calling her fat.)

  • ,

    Props to The Onion.

    If we want to boo somebody, why aren't we booing the Academy for nominating a six-year-old for anything? That's an insulting joke if I ever saw one, using a child for ... a promotional gimmick or something. While I appreciate that they handed me even more ammunition to use against those full-of-themselves "acting is a craaaaaft, it's so haaaaaard" actors (how hard can it be if six-year-olds get nominated for Oscars), I still have to ask: The fuck were they thinking?

  • Slash

    Eh, I still think the "tweet" was a dick move, but they get props for owning it, I guess. Hey, they're human. They make mistakes.

  • Pookie

    Rowles, you think just because “The Onion” did some slick PR move they should be allowed to act as though everything is all good? As I said in an earlier post, America would not have let The Onion off the hook if some white nine year old Oscar nominee was called the c-word. But hey, since it was a nine year old black girl lets all just chill out and relax. And the fact that The Onion has yet to name or discipline the person that wrote the tweet tells me that The Onion is not really upset by what the person tweeted , but rather they are upset at getting called-out about the tweet.

  • NateMan

    I think 'America' gave The Onion a pretty good ration of shit for it, as they well should have. But their CEO admitted it was wrong, they apologized, and the world moved on. I think the only other thing they should have done (and hopefully did) is tender a private apology to the young girl in question. I expect the writer in question got reamed out for his\her stupidity, and we don't know what (if any) discipline they faced; I'm not sure why a private company is expected to tell us anything about it. The letter states they will be disciplined for the comment. And the apology isn't one of those mealy-mouthed "I'm sorry you were offended" but pretty clear in its intent.

    Can a racial argument be made that we wouldn't have let it go as quickly as we did if it happened to a white girl? Sure. We have a tendency to focus on the palest among our society when bad things happen. We make movies about the white survivors of tsunamis, for Cthulhu's sake. But we gloss over all sorts of shit when celebrities are involved. Mike Tyson raped a woman, and now he does movie and television spots. Michael Vick did the kind of shit to dogs that should get you thrown off the continent entirely and makes more money now than he ever has. Roman Polanski raped a 13yr old and still gets to make movies.

    In the end, this was a bad incident on the Internets, as has happened since its inception and I expect will continue until the last 2 trolls devour one another in a cannibalistic orgy. But it was one tweet by one employee, taken down almost immediately, and publicly apologized for in a courteous manner by the head of the organization. Let's move on.

  • seth

    People still talk about The Onion?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I finally saw Beasts of the Southern Wild this weekend, and you know what offends me more than spelling this girl's name? The fact that she got ALL OF THE LOVE and the dude who played Wink got NONE! Total bullshit.

  • The man makes damn fine donuts, too. In fact, if you're ever in NOLA, it's worth a trip - tasty food that's completely bad for you and conversation with an interesting individual. It's not too far from the racetrack.

  • Jezzer

    "I find it telling that out of all the dissenting comments, the only one Champion chooses to personally address — and in the most condescending, MRAesque way possible — is a woman who comments that his multiple uses of a gender slur are excessive."

    I posted that comment on his page, but it's in moderation queue at the moment.

  • pajiba

    I just saw over on Twitter that Edward Champion actually called Drew Morton's employer to complain about Drew's umbrage with Champion's bullshit. That guy is a total wackjob.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Holy mother of f*ck I want those fifteen minutes back. What a whiner.

    Although I found it rich that he accuses Tobias of "Having too much time on his hands" in the middle of his multi-page diatribe on how he was wronged by the entire Twitter community because of his being an a**hat, featuring annotated Twitter timeline (which is oddly hard to follow, at that) with a side of New York penal codes and photo copyright ownership research.

  • InternetMagpie

    Dustin, don't dismiss her name as hard to spell, please! You're better than that.

  • Y'all, I write obituaries for a living and see some real interesting names. The two that I love to tell stories about were a kid named Dv'qrrk (Vowels, anyone?) and a young woman named Quiché Lorraine. Seriously. Like the breakfast food, except they pronounced it Keisha. Just seeing it typed out makes me giggle and cringe all at the same time.

    Know what drives me nuts about names? When people use apostrophes as accent marks (THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING.) or use unnecessary apostrophes. People, accents are supposed to help people pronounce your name. Which letter they're above and which way they slant give us cues how to properly pronounce your name. It's better (imo) to just leave them off than to stick in random apostrophes instead. Quiché vs. Quiche', for example. Likewise, apostrophes are supposed to replace vowels. You don't need one if the vowel is there. (Side note: has anyone else ever heard apostrophes called "comma to the top?")

    Know what I've learned from this job? Creative naming is not limited to African-Americans or lower income people. I used to think it was, but I see all kinds of names, with all kinds of spellings, in all socio-economic groups.

    I say all this as someone who was blessed/cursed with a very WASP-y name, but with a spelling that is rarely used any more. It's spelled wrong just about everywhere except my social security card, and including my high school diploma, so I know what it's like for people to always get your name wrong.

  • ,

    (Side note: has anyone else ever heard apostrophes called "comma to the top?")
    Take it from me, comma doesn't go on top; comma likes it doggy-style.

  • I find that apostrophes are often used in place of ʻokina to represent a glottal stop as well.

  • Slash

    Holy shit, this. Apostrophes and accent marks have very particular functions. They're not decorative. They're not tinsel on a Christmas tree. If they're not necessary (and modern English does not use accent marks, the words we use that do are mostly French in origin), for fuck's sake, don't abuse them. Just leave them out of it.

    At least the accent mark at the end of Quvenzhané make sense, punctuation-wise.

  • pajiba

    A lengthy debate about the spelling of someone's name, and the value in not only getting it right, but not being dismissive about it. THIS IS WHY PAJIBA IS FANTASTIC.

  • Superasente

    Nothing is hard to spell when you're cutting and pasting. Take Q'uq'umatz, the Mayan feathered-snake god of creation (similar to Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs) for example. One guy spelled that 16 years ago when the Internet was invented, and we've all just been hoping its right since then.

    Spelling. Pfff.

  • RhymesWithSilver

    I have a long name with several double consonants and a dipthong. People can't spell it. It's annoying, but it is NO BIG DEAL.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Man, I have a fairly common, four letter name (it's not actually Bert, but it rhmyes) and people still screw it up frequently. Even when it's part of my signature on the email they're replying to (and said email address CONTAINS my name). Some folks are really dense.

    I can only imagine the crazy pronunciations you (and Ms. Wallis) get on a regular basis.

  • Superass-entry

    My name Asente sounds an awful lot like "Ass-Entry."

    High school was very long.

  • NateMan

    Oh, I'm so sorry. I work distantly with a guy whose name, I poop you not, is Buttynski. I suspect he faced similar problems.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Agreed. How dare people not have Anglo-Saxon names? It's outrageous!

  • Puddin

    I can;t spell Scarlett Jowhasherbutts name and she's as white as a Peter Frampton concert.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    A. Who's Peter Frampton? Oh no, did I just out myself as black?

    B. The above comment really wasn't meant as an accusation of racism, but of laziness. I've just noticed that because people are far more familiar with "Western" names, they are less likely to complain about Johansson than about Ramamurthy. I have a fairly long name, however it's easy to pronounce once I've pointed out it's phonetic. But even after that, I get a lot of "oh I can't pronounce your name"! Which is just lazy.

  • e jerry powell

    Hell, darlin', I'm a little more than seven-eighths black, and I know who Peter Frampton is. That may be because I'm très ancien, though. It's been a while since Peter Frampton was commercially relevant.

  • e jerry powell

    Show them the way!

  • ,

    You feel like I do.

  • randomhookup

    You mean like "Aethelbald" & "Bawdewyn"?

  • NateMan

    The Rook's main character is a young woman named Myfanwy. That's just plain cruel.

  • Jezzer

    It is legitimately a hard name to spell, and it has nothing to do with race. I have the same problem with Jonathan Schaech.

  • e jerry powell

    I have no problem with Jonathan Schaech whatsoever.

  • linnyloo

    I regularly have to cheat when spelling Nietzsche.

  • NateMan

    Nietzsche would approve.

  • InternetMagpie

    Ugh, Schaech.

    Point is, whenEVER people dismiss the correct spelling/pronunciation of someone's preferred name, it's disrespectful.

  • e jerry powell

    Tell that to the red carpet crew at E! I'm willing to bet that half of them just roll their eyes.

  • thenchonto

    I have one of those difficult to spell variant-of-a-common-western-name names, along with a very long Eastern European last name and I don't feel disrespected at all when it gets misspelled, because it's just difficult. It goes against all expectations (the last name is super phoneticized, but doesn't sound like it would be) and defies the lessons of prior experience (I've literally never seen anyone else who spells my first name this way and still pronounces it like it's, well, a first name).

    If someone said "that spelling is stupid" or "why don't you change your name to something easier to write and pronounce?", yes, I would be offended, but that's not what's happening here. Pointing out that it's hard to spell and hard to remember the spelling of is totally fine if you're still doing the legwork to get it right in the end. If you're anyone but the person writing the name on my coffee cup or fast food order (I use funny fake names a lot for these anyway), I expect you to make comments and ask for clarification if I don't remember to immediately offer up a spelling. People who brush it off like it's something they see ten times a day just to be polite are the ones who worry me, because they're most often the ones who get it incredibly wrong.

  • RhymesWithSilver

    That's just silly. No one can spell my name because Italians have TOO MANY LETTERS. My name has more letters than anyone should require, but unless I file a lot of forms, I'm stuck with them. At worst, I get called the names of several delicious Italian foods that sound sort of like my name. This is hardly insulting, though it might make me hungry.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Same here...us Frenchies have way too many vowels and I don't expect people to just "know" how to spell it. For instance, what sounds like "Perro" would be spelled "Perreault", what sounds like "Prue" is "Proulx". But if I tell you how to spell it, and you just can't be bothered to listen, then there's a problem.

  • yocean

    I got an opposite problem as in people assume that spelling of my name involves more letters and consonants that what they heard. Sometime I get the urge to mess with them and tell them my name is spelled "Youghxxx" - "because I'm part French and Im sexy like that" You guess what my name is. It means Ocean in Japanese.

  • NateMan

    I don't think he 'dismissed' it; he said it was difficult to spell. He didn't denigrate her for it or bitch about it. He took the time to make sure he got it right. That's exactly what he should have done.

    Accepting other cultures, nationalities, and languages doesn't have to mean everything about them comes easily for you. For example, I love almost everything about Vietnamese cuisine. The sole exception is their love of the squidgy bits, like cartilage, that I simply don't have a taste for. I don't complain about it when I'm eating with Vietnamese friends, or act as though they've done something wrong by putting it in their food. I just avoid it when I can and politely eat it when I can't.

    Quvenzhané can be a difficult name to spell for someone who grew up in Western culture. That's okay.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    I... I don't get it. Her name is hard to spell. I'm so confused by this comment. It's not disrespectful or dismissive or insulting. Her name has an unusual and difficult-to-remember spelling. He's not mocking her as a person, if anything it's a joke about his shitty memory when it comes to her name.

    I'm sorry, I literally do not understand this criticism, and frankly I think it's more than a little unfair to the writer.

  • NateMan

    "I'm sorry, I literally do not understand this criticism..."

    It's (IMO) oversensitivity to an issue that actually exists; namely, the tendency of some white folks, particularly (again, IMO and experience) Americans to put down or be dismissive of other cultures' names, or the respelling of more traditional names, most typically of blacks. Examples: Jazmin, Shaniqua, Jonnei, etc. It's a way of allowing some people to think of other people as less than themselves, or to dismiss other cultures as ignorant, lazy, or poorly thought out.

    That's not what Dustin did above - and I say that as someone who's called him out on his lazy writing before.What he did was acknowledge his difficulty in spelling a name that is unusual for our culture, not put down that other culture for being difficult. It's a small but critical difference.

    I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to spell Quvenzhané either, if it wasn't for the internet. Not because I have a problem with the name or culture, but merely because it's outside my realm of experience. Believe me, I have a waaaaaay bigger problem with white folks who name their kids after a state (you name your girl Alabama and you're just setting her up for life as a stripper) or some mythical beast who can't spell (Gryffyn? Really?). That one drives me bananas.*

    *Tongue pressed firmly in cheek for last few sentences.

  • ,

    White people have no room to talk. I work as a copy editor and someday I'm going to establish a rule that we will from now on accept only two spellings of McKenzie (the other is MacKenzie), and callers who want their kids' names in print will have to choose one of the two. No more pretentious M'Kenzees or McKynzis or the like. It's A or B or fuck you, mother(fucker).

    Also, ,daughter has pointed out that "Mac" means "son of." Well thought-out there, MacKensey's mom.

  • linnyloo

    I agree -- if he'd just said Quvenzwhatever or Quvenzcan'tbebotheredtocheck, it'd be different.

  • Jezzer

    Dustin made a self-deprecating joke about his ability to spell. Let's not climb Mt. Molehill here.

  • Pookie

    but what's the joke, and why her name? surely it can't be the most difficult name rowles has ever tried to spell.

  • Robert

    The only hard part is getting the accent to stay up online. I have to fight like hell to get accents to read properly when using Wordpress. Worth it.

  • BWeaves

    "...and that's how you do that, folks."

    That's how you do what? I find their article kind of insulting.

    Also, this seems to be some new way of using ellipsis that I wasn't taught in school.

    Sorry Dustin, it's Monday and I'm feeling bitchy.

  • Robert

    Wow. I can't believe I missed the Champion controversy. I follow all the other participants on Twitter and was oblivious. I read through the linked post (including the actual twitter exchanges) and agree that he is a stark raving lunatic.

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