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The Onion Apologizes for Tweet About Quvenzhané Wallis

by Tambay A. Obenson
February 25, 2013 12:54 PM
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quvenzhané wallis

Just as I expected... The Onion apologized this morning for last night's Oscar tweet that referred to 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis with an obscene reference, which saw plenty of criticism leveled against the satirical publication.

It was a night full of humor that many felt crossed the lines of decency, with Seth MacFarlane, the Oscars host, also causing a bit of a stir (although not quite like the mess The Onion started) when he said about Ms. Wallis, that "it’ll be 16 years before she’s too old for" George Clooney, a joke that was also criticized for being too crude, especially in the young actress's presence.

Here's the letter of apology from The Onion:

Feb. 25, 2013

Dear Readers,

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.


Steve Hannah


The Onion

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  • Gary Hughes | February 27, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    for quvenzhane wallis.

    beautiful honey babygirl
    i apologize/for this world
    the one where your grandparents
    and mine/and theirs
    and so on
    could not eradicate true racism
    through the sacrifice of tears and sweat
    and breath/this world
    where skin causes suffering
    between those who share
    the same blood
    although seem will want you to believe
    that is outlandish
    it is not

    i apologize

    there is still not enough love and faith and hope
    to help those who are ill
    get well/because dear miss wallis
    racism is a disease of the soul
    a spiritual affliction/for the small thinkers
    and my grandma Cat told me
    it requires the kind of healing
    "every body got to pray for"
    she was born in 1904/she knew

    i offer
    as paltry and ineffectual as it may be
    simply this

    i will continue to wage my war
    on this blight/this awful ugly thing
    that causes adults to remain
    in a sad place/who raise children there
    far outside God's glorious unifying light
    where beautiful brown girls
    who rock puppy purses and say thank you and please
    even those who fight and cry and don't know why
    for those who struggle and those who don't
    all of them/every single one
    are not treasured and valued and protected
    by us all.

    By Glynis Boyd Hughes

  • Greg B | February 26, 2013 3:19 PMReply

    Jesus, really? It wasn't meant to insult her, but to parody gossips by creating an outrageously absurd piece of gosssip. That doesn't mean it was good parody or well thought-out, but it wasn't malicious. She was the vehicle for the satire, not the target.

    All of you calling for the writer to be fired, or for the Onion to be shut down... I don't know if you're merely imitating the writer by making intentionally stupid over-the-top statements or if you are actually as humorless and reactionary as you appear.

    Get mad at the gossips who REALLY talk this way about people. Get mad at the people whose behavior this unfortunate joke was trying to make fun of. But really calling for the Onion to be shut down and/or the author to be fired is just humorless fu**ishness and a desperate cry for a clue.

  • getthesenets | February 26, 2013 9:23 PM

    @greg b

    get OFF the bullshit....and pick one greg nice OR smooth b..not both.

    Your mom is obviously a hctib......

  • Talent | February 26, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    The writer of the insult leveled at Quvenzhane Wallis will definitely be seeking protection from the ass whooping that will be forthcoming as a result of his stupidity....and more than likely, he will seek pity. Forget that! I hope he is caught in the open, defenseless and made to suffer with absolute fear. He needs to learn the consequences of being a punk assed internet troll, and that hiding behind a cellulose screen won't keep you safe...To follow that point, THE ONION should be shut down...

  • dee | February 26, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    I think this is one of the most horrible things to call a person, and for a grown person to make that comment on twitter is very sicking. I think the apology came as a result of getting caught.

  • common sense | February 26, 2013 10:38 AMReply


    For someone who doesn't seem overly concerned with this issue, you sure are popping up a lot in the comment feed. You can stop now. We get it, you aren't offended. Carry on.

    LOL @ "this has nothing to do with being united". A great, sweeping comment with nothing to base it on. You're no longer needed in this thread.

  • AFF | February 26, 2013 8:36 AMReply

    The number of people who are getting outraged over this is ridiculous. The tweet was meant to be sarcastic. It's funny precisely BECAUSE Quvenzhane is so obviously NOT a c***. Anyone should be able to see that. It's like saying Hitler was a wonderful person. Nobody will believe that. I think everyone should just lighten up.

  • Tisha | February 28, 2013 11:01 PM

    I don't understand what is funny about calling a 9 year old girl a c**t? NOTHING IS FUNNY ABOUT THAT! Ever for any reason. Just because you call something comedy does not excuse you from being decent. And picking on a 9 year old is never funny. Saying Hitler is a wonderful person is bland compared to calling this little girl a c**t. I wouldn't stand for someone calling a grown woman that. I don't know when it became ok to just subject children to just any and everything. I certainly didn't grow up that way and I'm only 32.

    Shame on any adult trying to hid this disgusting comment behind a veil of comedy. It wasn't funny and no one laughed.

  • Mandred Henry | February 26, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    I hope he's prepared for an angry father... (about as sincere as the Unions' apology!)!

  • ALM | February 25, 2013 11:58 PMReply

    Why did they apologize to the Academy? The Academy wasn't wronged in this instance. Also, this won't change anything. The Onion apologizes, but if no advertisers pull their funding, etc., what lessons have been learned? None. As it is, people can call you everything but a child of God in the name of "freedom of speech" and satire, and then they can apologize with no repercussions. This is a child. There should be repercussions. Someone or a group of people should be fired, and advertisement should be pulled. The fact that the tweet even entered someone's mind says a lot about that lowlife.

  • Ava | February 25, 2013 8:23 PMReply

    I'm getting weary of satire becoming the modus operandi for sexist, racist homophobes. I was just waiting for the old 'I've been hacked' to be issued. The other one that drives me crazy is when people get incredibly nasty and then have the nerve to stick an 'LOL' on the end, as if that makes it okay.
    I'm not surprised sadly by the workings of entitled idiots hiding under the shield of an invented 'post racial' (whatever that means) sham. CBS/New York Times conducted a poll recently that said that Whites expressing Anti-Black sentiments has increased over the past 5 years.
    The only thing that did surprise me was the venue. I was under the impression that Onion did satire in a reasonably intelligent manner. There is nothing witty about their comments. Just trash with no redeeming qualities.

  • star jonestown | February 26, 2013 2:15 PM

    Re "satire [as] the modus operandi for sexist, racist homophobes" ... Hi. You are awesome! You are so tolerant that you are intolerant! I love it! It's the beauty of inversion, of reversed polarity... You're an enigma! But I'm sure you're a super-nice person!

    Re "trash with no redeeming qualities" ... Go eff yourself, you hopeless, pedantic, PC, self-appointed-culture-police, 1st-Amendment-hating, no-sense-of-humor-having jackass.

  • Xi | February 25, 2013 8:05 PMReply

    The tweet along with Seth MacFarlane's comments make me wonder if bell hooks' review was really that far off...???

  • Donella | February 25, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    For a grown man to verbally attack a nine-year-old with vicious sexual language is degenerate and psychopathic. Until this child attacker is identified and removed from The Onion's employment, The Onion can consider itself culpable.

  • Donella | March 3, 2013 4:56 PM

    It was a sick, cowardly attack on a child by a grown adult male. Only the worst kind of pervert would make a hostile and aggressive sexualized remark about a nine-year-old girl and then invite other pervs to laugh along with him. Only a perv would laugh at a strange mindset like that. Only a perv would shield and protect this kind of mindset. It is not humor, satire, irony, sarcasm, or whatever last minute shields lunatics use to spin and backpedal and excuse and disguise their sick minds. It is unacceptable and the person with this type of mindset should be identified and marginalized so that other people know to keep their children away from him.

  • Vichus | February 25, 2013 6:14 PM

    It wasn't an "attack" or a statement of fact. It was a comment that is obviously not to be taken as serious.

  • ao | February 25, 2013 4:17 PMReply

    If there are no rolling heads, there really isn't an apology.

  • ALM | February 26, 2013 12:02 AM

    @ AO: Amen!!!!

  • Beemooree | February 25, 2013 3:18 PMReply

    This is typical. An apology is always given after the damage.

  • Vichus | February 26, 2013 9:44 AM

    Maybe they did weigh the risks, and took the hit so they could get press. If that's true, that's desperate and scummy. A lame way to get your name seen.

  • AFF | February 26, 2013 8:30 AM

    That is typical because that is how apologies are supposed to work. If there was no damage done then there would be no need for an apology.

  • ALM | February 26, 2013 12:01 AM

    @ Vichus: They are not dumb. This controversy gave The Onion tons of press, albeit negative press. There are no repercussions, so the staff at The Onion apologizes and everyone skips off into the sunset.

  • Vichus | February 25, 2013 3:39 PM

    Apologies are fine. An apology you have to do to quell the storm is lame. They KNEW what they said would get a certain reaction, and that they are on a public outlet. How dumb can you be? ESPECIALLY since you're talking about a child who is part of an event that millions of people are watching? They never heard of a retweet?

  • Carol | February 25, 2013 1:42 PMReply

    This may be an indication that The Onion's days are over. I hope so. When something like this can be generated, it indicates (to me) that something is really wrong.

  • ChgoSista | February 25, 2013 1:16 PMReply

    Abigail Breslin and Dakota Fanning weren't subjected to this. Boy oh boy oh boy.

  • Wry Bred | February 25, 2013 8:43 PM

    Chgosista, you are so right! I'm sure that Bohemian Princess and I are just a couple of the untold many who share your sentiments.

  • Vichus | February 25, 2013 8:28 PM

    I'm not sarcastic, nor am I being an apologist. Tarantino doesn't pay my bills, nor does The Onion, so they have no sway over me; the color of my skin has no sway over me, either.

    I've been reading S&A for a little while, commenting, and reading the comments. What I see is that some readers here are content to condemn people faster and harsher than they themselves would like to be condemned.

  • getthesenets | February 25, 2013 6:41 PM


    are you being sarcastic or are you serious?

    during some of the django discussions I couldn't tell who was being sarcastic and who was just being an apologist for anything qt or weinstein group did.

  • bondgirl | February 25, 2013 6:18 PM

    Alex, the race of the writer does not matter. We already have proof in the physical form of Lil Wayne & W Kamau Bell that slamming black females (young & old), while white people giggle, is de rigeur.

  • Vichus | February 25, 2013 6:16 PM

    We not only do not know that, but we do not know how many people have come and gone from the Onion offices. Maybe no one attacked a white child star because the idiot who uses the c-word on twitter wasn't working for The Onion at the time.

    A lot of assumptions get made so quick. Quick to label things.

  • Alex | February 25, 2013 5:47 PM

    Do you know what race the person who wrote it was?

  • Bohemian princess | February 25, 2013 3:23 PM

    @chgosista, my thoughts exactly.

  • Lawrence | February 25, 2013 12:59 PMReply

    This is what happens when we stay united and speak with one voice.

  • Vichus | February 25, 2013 3:42 PM

    Really? I don't think it takes much for something that's highly controversial these days to get put on full blast, and have an apology typed up. This had nothing to do with "staying united"

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