Baratunde R. Thurston, a former staffer at the liberal humor newspaper The Onion, took to his Facebook page today to address the furor over the outlet’s Tweet targeting young actress Quvenzhane Wallis.
The newspaper’s Twitter feed sent out a vulgar joke aimed at the Beasts of the Southern Wild star, one Thurston felt compelled to explain. The former employee says while he’s glad the Tweet was removed, he understood where The Onion was going with the gag.
The Onion largely satirizes media and the general public. Everyone fawning over a clearly lovely and innocent little girl presents an opportunity to go the opposite direction with something contrasting and clearly false. It was also a take on tabloid media extremism … but it was an extremely high risk move and missed that target by WIDE margin. Limited upside. HORRIBLE downside.
It wasn’t necessary and was loaded with horrible language. In the context of what I’ve read about Seth McFarlane’s jokes, I feel especially bad for Wallis and her family who won’t “get” or care what the comedic idea was and only know that some comedy news organization called their little girl a disgusting, sexist name. It just comes across as mean. Intention does matter, and based on my time there, I’m sure the intent was not, “Hey let’s call this little girl a cunt. Ha. Ha.”
Twitter caught fire after the Tweet in question hit social media circles, and the newspaper apologized earlier today for the incident.