Monday, February 25, 2013

Quvenzhane Wallis and The Onion: When Satire Goes Horribly Wrong

I came home Sunday night from a nice dinner with my girlfriend and her family celebrating her brother's birthday. I briefly got to catch glimpses of the Oscars* at the restaurant and I was ready to sit back and enjoy the post-awards coverage.

Then lo and behold, I catch wind of what The Onion posted on Twitter of the 9-year-old star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhane Wallis. The fiery Best Actress nominee made me smile when I saw her pose cheerfully as they announced her during the ceremony. In case you missed it, my apologies for reposting this horrible word but it must be shown

Click on the picture to blow it up and then look to your right.

Yes folks. A very smart, satirical site tried to be funny and called a 9-year-old one of the worst things you can call a grown woman. For the record, I dig The Onion and I enjoy what they do in the same way I enjoy The Daily Show. But this clearly is a case where you go too far to be witty.

I think the Facebook/Twitter era has exposed folks thinking they can be comedians with quick one-liners. You see it all the time with tragedies or big moments. Somebody has to be that attention whore who gets their mind wet with something so crass they have to just post it to get a reaction.

Sadly, The Onion is going to get more attention from this. That's the double edged sword in this era: Bad PR is still PR and folks will be pleased to get hits with controversy. That's what whores do - happy somebody is noticing them and use it to their advantage.

Case in point. Comedian Lisa Lampanelli last week posting a picture of her and "Girls" star Lena Dunham where she referred to Dunham as her nigga. Lampanelli regularly uses racial jokes in her standup so it was no surprise that she tried to defend her words (even though Dunham didn't condone it nor step to Lisa to say that was personally wrong)

Lampanelli did that clearly for attention, just like her standup act and a lot more folks know her besides the many who already did. Just like The Onion Sunday night. Folks really are attention-deficit because they need to reach harder to get noticed than ever. That's why we have to pick and choose what we ignore for their sake, not ours.

As sad and upset as I am,  I hate even more the culture/mentality that's provoked folks to forsake decency and good sense in the name of trying to be smart, get noticed or stir things up for no reason. At some point it has to change but until it does, we can continue to raise righteous anger at situations like this when a 9-year-old deserved better than a vulgar joke from adults running a comedy site.

(Edit: The Onion issued a formal apology today on their Facebook page. It's a good call. Satire is supposed to be smart, over-the-top and obvious. What happened Sunday night was not.)

*As for The Oscars themselves, I could give props to Ben Affleck and Co., Quentin Tarantino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway for adding one more Oscar winner to the Dark Knight Rises cast. and the lovely Adele (even when she's on hiatus, she's still on). But how cool is it to be Jennifer Lawrence? 

22 years old and she now has 1 Oscar (2nd youngest Best Actress in history), 2 nominations, a starring role in the hottest box-office/book series (Hunger Games), another blockbuster in the next X-Men movie and carries herself with cool, class and beauty. It's gonna be fun watching her career continue to blossom.


  1. Good read brother, I didn't even know about this.

  2. Somebody at the Onion needs to be looking for another job after this here. As Ms Wallis'parents, I'd be demanding a lot from the onion right about now. Smh

    As for the comedienne, I'm wondering if things are going to play out like it did for Michael Richards (Kramer)