Tweet Creates Red Carpet-Worthy Oscar Faux Pas

Seth MacFarlane’s off-colored jokes and Jennifer Lawrence’s dramatic trip up the stage steps were not biggest faux pas in relation to this year’s Oscar awards.

The most questionable moment was when someone at the satirical site, The Onion, posted an offensive tweet about 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for the best actress award.

 

The Onion

 

The Twittersphere lit up after the tweet with some of the most common responses I saw urging people to unfollow The Onion‘s account. Some even went so far as to provide The Onion‘s address and telephone number and encourage direct responses.

Others defended the publication, pointing out the satirical nature of its content and how the genre often borders on offensive.

The Onion removed the tweet within the hour. Of course, as many other brands have learned on social media, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

The Onion‘s CEO Steve Hannah posted an apology about 12 hours later on Facebook. It read:

 

“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.”

 

My guess is that the apology also was not well received. It’s difficult to undo the damage so quickly inflicted via social media.

I like to think I have a sense of humor. I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person. I certainly am a supporter of free speech. I also support the responsibility for one’s actions the freedom demands, which is why I unfollowed The Onion after I saw the tweet. Satire loses its appeal when a child is bashed. I’m not sure what makes anyone think that’s funny.

Let’s Talk Nerdy!

What do you think about the response to The Onion’s tweet? Should the public expect such boundary pushing out of satirical publications or did they go too far? Should the CEO have apologized?

20 comments
SusanKerch
SusanKerch

@JodiOkun @profkrg When I went to get my 2nd degree, the nicest person was my financial aid lady whose name was Susan too!

ChattyProf
ChattyProf

@LisaBraithwaite @profkrg are full of themselves who aren't walking a red carpet. I sort of love that abt the age ;). But ug... out of line!

ChattyProf
ChattyProf

@LisaBraithwaite @profkrg WOW!!! I didn't see that either and I just watched the movie. Sure, she was a little excited. I have a 9 yo. Many

KateAdams20
KateAdams20

I didn’t realize this been posted before you blogged about it.I have enjoyed a lot of The Onion’s posts and stories because they are comical, but I don’t see anything funny about this post or understand why anyone would think it is comical.Regardless of the age of the person mentioned, there is nothing funny about it, it is just rude.

Since Miss Wallis is 9 yrs old though, that brings a whole new perspective to this tasteless post.She is a public figure which makes it legal to criticize her on several levels; however, those rights have to be used responsibly.Children are viewed as innocent and when you say things such as in The Onion’s post, the only one who looks like a C word is The Onion.

This was completely unethical.Kant’s Categorical Imperative states that an individual should act as if the choices one makes for oneself could become universal law. I highly doubt this man or woman would want someone posting something like that if Miss Wallis was their daughter or their friend’s daughter.People forget that while these people may be famous, they’re still people and deserve to be treated respectfully.

The response by the CEO was good considering the situation.In my opinion they did a good job of crisis management.

alliebeev
alliebeev

Kenna, you have mentioned self-censorship in reference to social responsibility several times during our class, and I can see how some might see the action of removing the tweet and apologizing as self-censorship. On the other hand, every time you have mentioned self-censorship you have been referring to individuals who choose how to act and what to say. When considering businesses and professional publications, the rules tend to change from individuals. One problem with the tweet is that it seems to be unprovoked, as an article from USA Today points out (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/02/25/twitter-explodes-over-nasty-onion-tweet-against-9-year-old-oscar-nominee/1945413/). No one is sure why they posted this tweet, even though it says that everyone else is afraid to say it. Its different when a publication insults or makes fun of an individual because of an obvious and well known reason, and most of the time it does not include words like the one that the Onion used. While the Onion is known for satirical content, social responsibility and even professionalism in the United States has an understanding that children and words such as the one the Onion used is unacceptable. 

I am personally glad that the Onion apologized for their comment. While they didn't have to, it shows that they do listen and consider the opinions of those who follow their social media and read their content. It shows a sense of responsibility to take in the overwhelming opinions of those who read their content. I'm not sure how much good the apology did, but at least they did something to recognize that the statement was inappropriate. 

kevingoliver
kevingoliver

would it have been okay if the word had been "brat" instead? Probably so. Poor choice of words, to be blunt.

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

That is simply obnoxious. Pointing out an eager kid's excitement in such a derogatory fashion shows the Onion's utter disregard for anything resembling decorum!

joshuatodPRprof
joshuatodPRprof

@profkrg I agree that this was beyond reprehensible and not remotely defensible as satire. The company's response today was straightforward

kmatthews
kmatthews

@profkrg @kaylaglanville Thanks, Kenna.

SteffiSLee
SteffiSLee

@profkrg It was a good read. You're great. @TheOnion did go too far. I'm glad someone gets it.

DanaCollie
DanaCollie

I have a two part response to this blog post.  Number 1, children are a protected class simply from the fact that they are indeed CHILDREN.  Therefore, they should not be the satirical bulls-eye for anyone, EVER.  Number two, if in fact the person in question had been an adult, I think that the "tweeter" of this repulsive tweet utterly violated the boundaries of "satire" as defined as" the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc".  How does use of the extremely offensive "C" word in any way shape or form connotate exposing vice or folly ironically or sarcastically.  I think this tweeter is un-tweet worthy & if I had followed the publication, I would not in the future. 

LisaBraithwaite
LisaBraithwaite

@ChattyProf Oh, I didn't even see what she did. I just assumed Onion was making stuff up like they always do.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@KateAdams20 I also think they did a good job of responding. 

I mentioned the age factor below in my response to Allison. When considering my own stance, I couldn't help but think that it was why I responded so immediately and passionately. As you know, I have an 11-year-old daughter. I cannot imagine anyone saying or writing something like that about her. It would infuriate me. 

Overall, it's just sad that what may be a shining moment in this little girl's life was tarnished by ignorance from one person who thought he/she was being funny.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Kenna

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@alliebeev I thought the apology was well drafted. It's difficult to make much of a difference after the fact, but I was glad to see they apologized.

You mention the concept of a public person and the general public understanding why the person is being criticized. Do you think her age also is a factor here? I wonder if people would have just "blown it off" if it weren't for that.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Kenna

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@kevingoliver Yes, perhaps. I don't see her as a brat, either, but then we're at least arguing opinion instead...

Thoughts? 

Kenna

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@BruceSallan When we agree, we agree, Daddy'O. Thanks for reading and commenting. 

Kenna

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@joshuatodPRprof I agree that they responded pretty well. It was a good apology, for what that's worth.

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@SteffiSLee Thanks so much!

profkrg
profkrg moderator

@DanaCollie Pretty much my view, Dana. It's a child and that's just not funny. Thanks for reading and responding. 

Kenna