Ask JT! Was The Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Unforgivable or Just Bad Comedy? – Musings Of A Mild Mannered Man

Ask JT! Was The Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Unforgivable or Just Bad Comedy?

Your friendly neighborhood bartender is taking a break from his wild dating life to tackle your questions with his patented blend of advice and adult beverages. So slide on up to the bar my friends. Now, what can I get you?

Hey JT,

I was wondering if you could weigh in on the controversy over the Onion’s tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis during the Oscars. It’s caused a lot of heated arguments between my group of friends. I’m personally of the opinion that it was disgusting and whoever wrote it should be fired. But I have a few friends who say that it was a satirical joke, and therefore is somehow above criticism, no matter who is hurt in the process.

I’m not opposed to comedy, but I just can’t past the fact that a little girl was called an unimaginable word on what should have been the best night of her young, innocent life. No child should have to go through that. How do I express this to my friends?

Worried Friend

Oh, boy.

I’ll be honest, WF, I almost didn’t print your letter, because this material is such a powder keg, and I know that no matter what I say I’m going to piss someone off.

But then I thought that this is a moment where we might all learn from each other, for the specific reason that many did, in fact, have opposing reactions to what happened.

Okay, let’s start with my initial belief about comedy: I think it’s like any other art form, in that it has an ability to make us look at social problems in a very specific light and lay bare our darkest truth. However, that does not mean in any way that it’s somehow exempt from criticism, or that you should be allowed to say anything you want under the guise of satire or jokes.

Now, for this specific tweet. I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t heard about this, but for those not in the know, the satirical magazine/website The Onion, under its official Twitter account, was tweeting on Oscar night and wrote, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c**t, right?”

Now, I’m terribly negligent as both a pop culture writer AND a gay man, because I never watch the Oscars or follow them in any way. It just seems all about dresses every time I watch, and I don’t care about dresses, unless of course the woman wearing the dress is an assassin and she’s using it to hide the ninja stars she has attached to her thigh. Therefore, I didn’t hear about the tweet until the following day, when battle lines had already been drawn in the sand between the two camps: those horrified by the tweet, and those defending it.

I winced when I read it, because it’s obviously nasty and vicious, and the C-word is basically the only swear word left that still has the ability to shock. But what also seemed clear to me was the joke that it was trying to make — that celebrity gossip culture is so vicious, catty, and insanely cruel, it won’t be too long before we take the vitriol usually aimed at adult women (somehow men escape most of this) and start directing it at children. It was outrageously offensive on purpose to point out how low we’ve fallen.

Quvenzhane Wallis

But while I truly believe that was the spirit in which the joke was intended, it failed to hit the mark, and was too easily interpreted as taking a potshot at an adorable and extraordinarily talented little girl on the most incredible night of her life. And now, because of that tweet and the hellstorm surrounding it, that night will always be marked in her history as when the nasty tweet happened, when it should be remembered as the time she was nominated for Best Actress at nine years old for a role she played when she was six. And that’s a damn shame.

What I hope comes out of this is that some attention is paid to how famous adult women are treated. For example, many people out there in the Twitterverse are ruthless to Anne Hathaway for reasons that astound me: she’s too perky, she’s too happy, she seems to enjoy her fame too much. People seriously believe these are negative qualities?

Fine, so we want someone subdued and unemotional, maybe someone who seems a little put off by her fame to make us feel okay. Someone like, maybe, Kristen Stewart? Oh, wait, people hate her, too, for doing just that.

But I digress. While I do believe the Onion writer meant to punch up (ie – critiquing our celebrity-obsessed society) he or she ended up punching down. Way down. And that’s not cool. They should have known better. I like to believe the best in people, so I choose to believe the tweet was merely not thought out as opposed to intentionally heinous. But common sense should have intervened, and someone should have realized that if there was the slightest chance this would be seen by the child in question — and on a medium like Twitter, that’s pretty much guaranteed — it should never have happened.

People get very emotional about this topic, and it’s understandable why. But I think it’s more important to listen to what other people are saying than it is to shout over them. Heated arguments rarely change anyone’s mind. What you and your friend need to do, WF, is take a deep breath, discuss your viewpoints calmly, and really try to listen to each other.

Hey JT,

I’m a high school senior and I came out of the closet in the beginning of the school year. My problem is that I really want to kiss my best friend, but I’m afraid it might ruin our friendship. He told me that he kissed one of his close guy friends and I thought maybe it was just a one time thing, so no big deal. The other night we were hanging out with a few friends and he told me that he is bisexual.

While we were watching a movie that night he was getting comfortable and holding hands with the same guy he told me he had kissed. Now that I know he is bisexual I want to kiss him every time we are together. I will admit seeing him with the other guy does make me jealous, but still. Also he has a girlfriend and is really close with the guy from the other night. I don’t want to end his relationship with his girlfriend, but he did mention he doesn’t see it lasting that long. I don’t know what to do because I am afraid he won’t want to kiss me and it will ruin our friendship. Any advice?

Given the fact that you also turned this question into a forum, I’m guessing you really want it answered, so here goes.

You’re jumping a lot of steps, my friend. Life isn’t the movies, and you can’t just kiss people without warning. Your friend has a girlfriend and a dude on the side. His plate’s pretty full right now. This is not the time to move in aggressively.

He may actually be bisexual. Or he may, like many others before him, be gay and in classic teen fashion is exiting the closet one step at a time, also known as the bi-now-gay-later maneuver. But regardless, there is a girl right now who calls him her boyfriend, and my guess is she’s none the wiser about this other dude who your friend is suddenly so cozy with. And this dude that he’s suddenly cozy with may have been told all sorts of things about where he stands with your friend that may or may not be true. All signs point to crazy drama, and right now you would only be adding to the mix.

Look, I get it. I really do. I know what it’s like to be gay, in high school, and dying to kiss that guy. But one of the hard parts of life is restraining yourself for the greater good.

If you feel like you have to tell him or you’ll explode, you can let him know that you’ve always been attracted to him but never said anything because you thought he didn’t like guys. But grabbing him and kissing him? No. No good. When you lean in suddenly without preparing the other person, they’ll instinctively pull their head back whether they like you or not.

Not that I know from experience. Shut up!

Hey JT,

Okay, you said you like palate cleanser questions, so here goes. Who’s the hottest movie superhero? There are so many these days it’s almost hard to keep track. My vote’s for Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Superhero Lover

Remember how I said it’s the women of Hollywood who are subjugated, devalued, and reduced to nothing more than their looks, while the men escape this petty and shallow scrutiny? I like to think we’re doing our best to fix that.

An often-overlooked hottie is James Marsden’s Cyclops, although it’s been seven years since that character’s been on the big screen. (In other news, how has it been seven years since X-Men 3?)

While we’re in the X-men universe, Shawn Ashmore’s Iceman is a supreme hottie. But no one likes him more than my boyfriend Morris, who called me a few days ago, breathless and delirious, after spotting him and his twin brother Aaron on the subway. So out of spite and jealousy, I will not choose him.

Moving to The Avengers, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans as Thor and Captain America are a double whammy of hunky goodness, and I know a lot of people are into Jeremy Renner, but he’s not really my jam.

You guys know I’m into slender, adorkable guys, so I’m going to vote along my party lines and nominate Andrew Garfield as the way-hotter-than-Tobey-Maguire version of Peter Parker, aka your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.

Yes. This will do.

But that’s just me. What about you guys?

To ask JT a question, email him at [email protected]
Or you can be super tech-sexy and ask via Twitter. Messages may be edited for space (but they’re totally more likely to get chosen if they’re three paragraphs or less. Just sayin’.)

You can find previous editions of AfterElton’s Ask JT advice column here.


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  1. March 14, 2013

    […] Ask JT! Was The Onion’s Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Unforgivable or Just Bad Comedy? ( […]

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