The Onion Apologizes, Now What?
There was a recent uproar when online satirical news source, The Onion, referred to Oscar nominee and history-maker Quvenzhané Wallis as a “cunt.”
In “A Love Letter to Quvenzhané Wallis,” Crunk Feminist Collective’s Moya Bailey wrote, “You’ve done such a great job telling people how to say your name. It makes me mad that people still can’t get it. People think it’s funny to make fun of Black girls with names like ours.”
Black Girl Dangerous creator Mia McKenzie also weighed in: “The thing about being a little black girl in the world is that even when you are the youngest person ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, many people will use the occasion not to hold you up for all of the amazing things you obviously are, but to tear you down for the ways you don’t look like them, the ways your name isn’t their kind of right, the ways you don’t remind them of themselves, the ways you are not blonde or blue-eyed, as if those things could possibly matter when set against the otherwordly talent and beauty and brilliance you possess.”
After much public outrage and an online petition that quickly garnered over 900 signatures in just a few hours, The Onion issued an apology:
Feb. 25, 2013
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.
Okay, great. The Onion apologized. Now what? This isn’t the first time the media has crossed the line subjecting Black women and girls to misogyny and gendered slurs. And it certainly won’t be the last. It’s important that we continue to hold media outlets and personalities accountable for the bias-laced language and depictions they use. But the most important thing we can do is continue to create and support our own media initiatives. It’s critical that we tell our own stories and lift up our own voices in an empowering, affirming and authentic way.