For the first time since it was published The Onion has gone on the defensive, publicly apologizing for a recent tweet about Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis. The tweet was taken down within an hour of being posted but the damage was done. Bloggers and media personalities emerged from the woodwork to sound off on their disgust.
The satirical news publication has been online for over a decade and through that time they have made light of a range of subjects including domestic abuse, child molestation, rape, suicide, and bullying, either subtlety or spelled out blatantly. Albeit this is the first time they have faced a major public outcry that they had gone too far.
Have these people been reading The Onion for the last ten years or so?
I can’t help but fear the worst now that the hilarious Onion has caved in. Was the tweet vulgar? Yes, there’s no getting around that. Was it below the belt? Well, as so often is the case with The Onion nearly everything they write hovers over that line.
Now that they have offered a public apology and broken their up-till-now silence I wonder what impact it will have on their future publications. Will they take fewer risks in the future pushing the envelope?
Several years ago I had the good fortune to attend a forum by two of the writers from The Onion. As to be expected they were hilarious and shared some insights into what they publish and what they might hold back on. The moderator asked if there was any subject that was considered off limits. She must not have been an avid follower of the publication considering the aforementioned subjects were just to a name a few of the issues they skewered. Their reply was succinct and without hesitation “nothing.”
What can we expect now that they are being more stringent with what gets published? What will we be missing out on now that they are self-censoring; have we entered a new era of The Onion? Are they losing the strongest thing they had going for them, holding nothing back and sparing no one?
Perhaps the apology was more tongue-in-cheek than sincere. I am thinking of the part “”It was crude and offensive — not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.”
Was the CEO implying this was just another “biting” piece of satire that was misconstrued? I can only hope the latter is true and can expect The Onion to remain as it always has. Please let the humor continue to be outrageous and hysterical with not a wink-wink you know we’re just kidding attitude that is so prevalent in our current humor zeitgeist.
Jack Gayer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.