When The Onion, the satirical online newspaper tweeted this supposed joke about Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest ever Best Actress Award nominee on Oscar night –
the collective was aghast.
Though everyone I know found it deplorable, the Onion’s outrageous onslaught was “Favorited” by some 400 users according to the Huff Post .
Yes. The Onion issued an apology , but the damage had already been done. There’s no way the kid isn’t aware of it, no way that her mom didn’t have to find a way to explain to a 9-year old on a night that was supposed to be the highlight of her life to this point (Oscar or not) how some people can be so cruel.
A small mind did a small thing and stole her moment, tarnishing her brilliantly shining star with a single keystroke.
The tweet was deleted and the apology issued, but clearly that’s not enough. From Keith Olbermann to Michelle Malkin – yeah, even the perpetually prattling parrot had the sense to denounce the assiduous attempt at humor – folks summarily called The Onion out.
But that’s not enough.
It still baffles the mind why out of all the possible (more appropriate) targets why anyone would single out a child for such an atrocious attempt at humor. Some have tweeted that it was just a joke, that people are being overly sensitive. That’s ridiculous. It wasn’t funny. It was and remains an assault. On a 9-year old child.
Actor Wendell Pierce (Treme, The Wire), like Wallis, a native of NOLA, tweeted that the writer should be identified and punished, not allowed to hide, continuously, behind the arbitrary cloak of anonymity.
I agree. We should demand the writer be punished not just because it’s what is right, but also because we owe it to this young girl. It’s the continuous marginalization of people of color, specifically our youth in this society that’s alarming. We have to affirm their worth. Regardless of color calling a child what she was called can’t be allowed or tolerated or it will happen again.
We have to show our kids that people can’t victimize them and get away with it.
Like Quvenzhane did from her front row seat on Oscar night, young people should be allowed to flex their personas figuratively and emotionally as they figure out who they are (I’d hate to see this business burn her out, much like it seems to have to Willow Smith who abdicated the Annie role which Willis has recently been cast).
I said previously that if I was her parent I’d track the writer down (it’s really not impossible; hard, yes but not impossible) and make it difficult to type, tweet or say that kind of vile, vehement, viciously sexualized comment about my or any child for a long, long time.
Realizing prison wouldn’t be an effective parenting tool/example, I’ve since calmed down. But I think flexing our own combined muscle, insisting on economic punishment is the very least due to both the writer and The Onion. They should take responsibility for deading a piece of a young girl’s childhood off with such abuse and so crudely. Haters are gonna hate, Q. Let ’em. Though they’ll try to hold you down while tugging on your cape, they can’t stop you from flying. You’re a Super Girl.
In this case, turnabout is fair play: I think The Onion’s gotta cry.