Best Actress Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis has been called a lot of things, most of them complimentary. Among them: “a small force of nature,” “special,” and “extraordinary.” Now, thanks to The Onion’s Twitter feed, she can add another word she probably shouldn’t hear for another 15 years.
Um, what? Wallis is so young and innocent she carried a puppy purse to the Oscars.
Perhaps the most shocking thing is that this wasn’t the first uncouth and inappropriate comment about the 9-year old, on what should have been a special night for the young actress who also just announced she’s set to star in a production of Annie. (Attempts to reach Wallis’s reps were unsuccessful.)
During the Oscar telecast, host Seth McFarlane, in one of his many sexist and misogynist jokes of the evening, quipped: “So let me just address those of you up for an award, so you got nominated for an Oscar, something a 9-year-old could do! She's adorable, Quvenzhané. She said to me backstage. "I really hope I don't lose to that old lady, Jennifer Lawrence. To give you an idea how young she is it'll be 16 years before she's too old for Clooney.”
Clooney took it in stride, but the numerous transgressions were not lost on the audience. While Wallis and her cohorts from Beast of the Southern Wild celebrated their big night at the post-Oscar parties, Twitter lit up with outraged Tweets from the famous and non-famous alike:
Twitter user, @Nerdfish wrote: “I woke up to discover all kinds of cruel, racist comments about Quvenzhané Wallis and now I want to go back to bed.”
Another person, @reneesian Tweeted: “The fact that Seth MacFarlane can sexualize 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis at the Oscars and people will still laugh, is fucking beyond me.”
Keith Olbermann, the former MSNBC host, and Wendell Pierce of The Wire called out The Onion in particular, with Pierce asking the editors for an apology. “Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor, I call it horrendous.”
Calls by users to unfollow the site with the hashtag #unfollowtheOnion proliferated.
Indeed, the Onion’s entire Twitter feed seemed amiss. Other Tweets from the evening veered far from their usual sharp cultural satirical content. (One such Tweet: “@TheOnion Quentin Tarantino has been heavily criticized for his frequent use of the word "n***r" during tonight's red carpet interviews #Oscars2013).”
Twitter users noticed that the rest of the feed’s offensive content, which included off-color jokes about how Kathryn Bigelow donned blood-soaked rags from Osama bin Laden, dead celebrities being onstage in their caskets for the In Memoriam segment, and in a play of words, had Jennifer Lawrence “beating” a 9-year-old. Ha, ha, ha?
Requests for comment from Onion editor in chief William Tracy were not returned.