The internet is outraged, as only the internet can be, over a tweet from The Onion about nine-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis. The satirical newspaper wrote "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?" I agree that it’s a mistake to make a crude joke about somebody that young, and they were right to delete it, but The Onion deserves to be forgiven for this one, and fast. Why? Because The Onion is one of the best things American publishing has created in the last 25 years, and it didn’t get to be that way by worrying about offending people. Week after week, since 1988, The Onion has skewered the deserving in the most incisive, hilarious, and memorable way possible. As with Monty Python, it would be pointless for me to even start to mention The Onion‘s greatest hits. There are so many, we’d never get any work done today.
But every long-term Onion fan has a head full of them. In my brain today: "Badly Injured Man Not Done Partying Yet," "Seriously Ladies, There Have Been Noise Complaints," "Pope Forgives Molested Children." I’m looking at my Onion calendar right now. Today’s story: "So Far It Looks Like I’ve Done a Pretty Good Job Faking My Death" by Michael Landon. That’s funny. The writers and editors have such a grasp of current events, journalistic style, pop culture, and human nature, that it’s just perfect for our time. Proof of this: people fall for their parody news reports all the time. They just seem so real.
So, to those of you who are pounding on your keyboards like percussion instruments right now, registering your offense to The Onion‘s joke, I have to say: really? From the sensitive minds over at Fox News to the intellectuals at Salon, who bleated about "The Onion’s Vile Quvenzhane Wallis Tweet," it seems like people are going out of their way to join the aggrieved, as if it puts them on some moral high ground. I can’t help but roll my eyes a little.
Yes, it was a bit much, but you know it was a joke, and, let’s be honest, it is funny on some level. I shouldn’t need to explain this, but it’s funny because Quvenzhane Wallis is so cute and nice and talented, and being joked about like that just underscores this. They called her that because she’s not that. We’re deep into the 21st Century now, so you should be familiar with the concept of irony. The Onion pushed it a little far with a young target, but this is one of those cases where it’s funny because it’s not true. Please don’t join the swollen ranks of the easily offended. Nobody got hurt, and nobody went hungry over this. Here’s what happens when people get offended: nothing.
The world needs The Onion. It would be a sad, boring, serious place without it. And I can’t wait to see the story they come up with on this whole blowup. They joke about everything, but one thing’s absolutely true. The Onion truly is "America’s Finest News Source." So lighten up already.
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