This might be a first: The Onion has apologized for a joke. Just in the past couple of years, the satiric news company has released some pieces that caused uproars—just off the top of my head, I'm thinking of this "Sears Extremists Fly Plane Into Willis Tower" video and this "Congress Takes Group of Schoolchildren Hostage" piece (which actually sparked a panic on Twitter at the time)—but in the both cases, the website refrained from offering apologies to those offended. The Onion is known for its edge and for crossing the line. The uproar caused over the Willis Tower 9/11 joke was kind of the point.
Last night, though, the fake news organization's Twitter account really did cross the line, making a brutal joke at the expense of a defenseless nine-year-old girl, Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis.
The Tweet was deleted an hour after it was posted. And today, the CEO of the company, no less, is apologizing for it. From The Onion's Tumblr:
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.
Deleting the Tweet and apologizing today is the right call. The meaning the joke is clear—it was taking our culture's propensity to talk shit about celebrities (think: last night's Anne Hathaway backlash) and extending it to a nine-year-old celeb—but even if you do get it, I mean, Jesus, she's nine. Let her be a fucking kid.