By now, you’ve all probably heard about The Onion‘s crude tweet last night in which they called 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis a “c**t.” Though the liberal humor publication is known for pushing the envelope and, indeed, pushing it way too far in some cases, there’s just something inherently not-funny about calling an adorable 9-year-old girl such a disgusting word.
We get the joke. We do. Media furor, fascination, and interest over this wunderkind of a child actress. The Onion satirizes, pushes the opposite, indeed the unexpected, message. But there are just some jokes that demand you wade through too much garbage to grab the laugh. In some cases, the laugh on the other side of the sewage just doesn’t exist.
That was the heart of the explanation offered by Baratunde R. Thurston on his Facebook page today. The former Onion staffer attempted to explain why the publication does what it does while still condemning its attack on Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s Ms. Wallis.
Thurston clarified that he’s not a spokesperson for The Onion or an “advocate or defender.” He then went on to explain:
“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.”
He also added that he feels bad for Wallis and her family because they won’t care what the comedic idea was. All they know is that some publication called their daughter a “c**t.”
“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 c**t. Ha. Ha.”
What did you think of The Onion‘s tweet calling Quvenzhane Wallis the c-word? Did they go too far?