News Column

Onion apologizes for 'offensive' Oscars tweet

Feb 25, 2013

Rex W. Huppke

In what may be a first, the Onion satirical newspaper has issued an apology -- for a joke.

The newspaper based in Chicago and famous for its over-the-top satire has a note from CEO Steve Hannah running prominently on its Web site apologizing for a tweet the publication sent out during last night's Oscars ceremony.

The tweet (shown here with an offensive word redacted by the Tribune) was about 9-year-old best actor nominee Quvenzhane Wallis:

"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a c---, right?"

The tweet prompted a flurry of online outrage, with many protesting the use of "the c-word" in association with a child. (It's also worth noting that Oscars host Seth MacFarlane included Wallis in a joke about George Clooney's tendency to date young women. That joke received considerable criticism as well.)

The tweet on The Onion's Twitter account was deleted about an hour after it was posted. In his note to readers, Hannah wrote:

"I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhane 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."

The note also said the people responsible for the tweet will be disciplined.

Along with the outrage came considerable support from people who believed the tweet was just an absurd joke, typical of a humor publication like The Onion. Evan Hill, a correspondent for The Times of London, sent a tweet (@evanchill) citing this from a 1995 issue of The Onion: "Bosnian Child Makes Fun Art Project with Mother's Skull."

Comedian Dave Rubin (@DaveRubin) responded to the debate with this tweet: "The Onion has apologized for their bad joke. If comedians had to apologize for all their bad jokes Leno would be booked solid through 2032."

Running next to Hannah's apology note are several typical Onion headlines, including: "Unsuspecting Movie Stars Follow Fake Red Carpet Into Back Of Kidnappers' Van"; "Funeral Held For Door Shot 4 Times By Oscar Pistorius"; and "Snowstorm In Chicago Delays Hundreds Of Morning Murders."

Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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