Fantasy Fans: Where’s Your Outrage?

This is hurriedly written and unedited; gotta take Besame Mucho to the vet in a few. Apologies for typos/inclarities in advance.

If you didn’t know, something relevant to your genre happened last night. Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fantasy film I’ve been raving about, got nominated for four different Oscars — yeah, they didn’t win any last night, but getting nominated is still awesome. One of those nominations was for the film’s star, Quvenzhané Wallis, who also made history for being the youngest-ever Oscar nominee. She’s 9 years old.

Here’s the part that happened last night: half of Hollywood decided that it hated her.

The reasons for that hate vary. Some of it’s just… Hollywood, land of the unbelievably hateful people who tear each other down to build themselves up. (Where I come from that’s called bullying, and it happens most often in a schoolyard.) There’s a billion snickering comments and articles online right now about the fact that one of the Oscar winners tripped. This is a professional culture of 12-year-olds.

Well. Except. Most of the ones with power are old white guys. They just have the sense of humor of 12-year-olds.

Here’s some things they did:

Oh, and it wasn’t just Hollywood misbehaving. The better-known chunks of the feminist community got in on the act, calling her “disgusting” and “insufferable” in the comments. Those people are getting told by quite a few people, but just goes to show you that even (sometimes especially) feminists can be racist fucks.

And what terrible things did Ms. Wallis do to invite this kind of vitriol? Oh, just stuff like this:

Quvenzhané Wallis doing a little fist-pump in celebration.

Just be herself: talented, happy, pretty, and proud of her achievement. She didn’t misbehave, she didn’t snark at anyone the way winner Jennifer Lawrence did (and Lawrence was awesome for doing so, but it’s interesting how white girls can get away with being confident more easily than black girls. Isn’t it?). Ms. Wallis committed the crime of being confident while black and female. Hey, it happens to all of us, often starting around puberty; I guess Hollywood just decided to start the shaming and systematic tearing-down early.


So here’s the thing: I’ve seen a lot of outrage over this from folks on my Twitter feed, which includes a lot of people in the genre community. It’s heartening to see that. But I can’t help thinking that there should be a lot more outrage than I’m seeing. After all, a fantasy film just came very close to winning an Oscar for Best Picture — yet I don’t see the community even embracing this as a fantasy film, let alone leaping to the defense of one of our biggest stars. I wonder about that. Really, I do.

Here’s what I’d like to see: more people talking about this, in social media and other places. I’d like those people to unfollow The Onion, if they’re following it, and un”like” it on Facebook — because social media capital is valuable these days, and doing these small things is the equivalent of a boycott. You can also write the Onion and tell them what you think of this. I know people are looking up lists of their advertisers even as we speak, so when there’s a list of Onion advertisers to write to, I’ll add that to this post.

But aside from that, what I’d like to see is some good old-fashioned geek rage. I mean, seriously, ya’ll. Geek rage is an awesome and beautiful thing when it gets behind a cause of worth. This one’s worthy.

And I’d like to see it because I was this girl, once. Oh, not famous, but just that cheerfully focused on a goal — in my case, becoming a published novelist. And I’ve had my share of people trying to tear me apart for daring to want such a thing. Like I said, it happens to a lot of us. But a little support goes a long way.

ETA: Closed some open tags, linked to the article about the anon Oscar voter who said he wasn’t voting for her b/c of her name.

Daughter of ETA: The Onion has apologized.

Spoiled Niece of ETA: Apparently people are playing silly buggers, reporting me for spamming my own website. Apologies for the brief downtime, and hopefully it won’t happen again. Note: I hotlinked the “fistpump” gif because I can’t seem to get it to upload on my site. I got it from here, tho’.

89 thoughts on “Fantasy Fans: Where’s Your Outrage?”

  1. Agree, agree and agree.

    I didn’t watch the Oscars. I don’t care for the whole thing. I don’t pay attention to most things from Hollywood, to be honest. But it’s sad and strange that I didn’t even know there was a Fantasy film among the nominees. I’d have thought that the media savvy geeks that I follow would have mentioned that.

    I’m watching my Twitter feed this morning (where I spotted this RT) and I am seeing the critiques. I’m seeing outrage at the Onion. I’m seeing critiques against Macfarlane and feminists speaking against the “boobs” song.

    What I hadn’t seen before your blog post was someone pointing out that half of Hollywood has decided to dislike this child for no reason. Did they do the same thing to Anna Paquin? Nope.

    You’re right to call for outrage.

  2. I saw people ACTUALLY defending the Onion. What the actual F***. Are you not decent human beings? What if it had been Abigail Breslin (Nommed for Little Miss Sunshine) or Hailee Steinfeld (Nommed for True Grit)that these things were said about. Someone would have been fired. But since it’s a black child, who gives an actual F***? Yeah, I went there. People should be OUTRAGED, because it could have been their MOTHER/SISTER/AUNT/COUSIN/GRANDMOTHER that this word could have described. I weep for humanity.

  3. That kind of behavior was gross on the part of everyone who participated. Thanks for putting this out there and bringing it to people’s attention. The more pushback the Onion gets about this, the better!

  4. Makes sense except the Onion thing. The Onion’s on your side. They do satire, in this case, satirizing idiots who think that they need to call a 9-year-old girl “insufferable.” They satirized that by calling her a cunt, which is obviously absurd and offensive, and calls attention to the absurdity and offensiveness of her treatment at the hands of everybody else.

    It might have been too offensive to get its point across, but there’s also no need to take it at face value and try to boycott the Onion.

  5. At the very least, the Onion should apologize and discipline/fire the writer of the tweet. So not cool. I do not understand this backlash against the star of BoSW. I had an acquaintance comment the other day how they didn’t like her because she seems too full of herself. Seriously. A child. A child being thrown into the craziness of publicity and fame. And why shouldn’t she be full of herself? She did an awesome thing. Add to this racial stereotyping and my mind explodes. I just do not understand this mindset. I guess it is on us to not accept this kind of behavior, eh? Great post!! Thanks.

  6. While I agree that The Onion wasn’t funny, I don’t think the vitriol over the girl is a rebuke of feminism. It’s the Oscars. People watch to be catty, snide and self-indulgent. hosts make fun of the stand out films/actors of the time. A cigar is sometimes just a cigar.

  7. I definitely agree that the tweet was way over the line. From what I’ve read of last night, it sounds like there was a large amount of sexist, and truly humorless remarks coming from Mcfarlane and others. The Onion is fond of deriding things by taking them to the utmost extreme, and in that regard they succeeded in crafting a truly unfunny, sexist, and reprehensible comment.

  8. In terms of why people haven’t been *more* outraged, is it worth considering that the sort of people who are liable to call Hollywood on its poor behaviour are a highly overlapping set with the sort of people who don’t watch the Oscars? I’m not saying it’s 1:1, but I know that I didn’t watch the Oscars, and thus hadn’t heard about any of this (or anything else about the Oscars) thus far.

  9. disclaimer: I didn’t watch the Oscars. Having read your link, I didn’t really make the connection between her color and the George Clooney joke (though that stat is consistent with what I knew of girls when I taught in Wichita, Kansas). The rest of it is atrocious. Onion unfollowed, blog post retweeted, etc. Time for geek rage indeed.

    Plus, a movie to watch! Yay!!

    Thanks for writing on this.

  10. I watched the oscars and I did not hear most of what you are claiming but anything close to sexual comment is discusting when involving a child PERIOD, but I have to say I thought the same thing. I thought even before the oscars this little girl was rude. I don’t know what that has to do her race…. for me any child actor that comes off the way she does (and I don’t think that has to do with confidence, i think its a kid that is allowed to be a brat)has always got on my nerves. Sorry!

  11. Since I don’t watch or follow any awards program, I missed all this last night and only found out this morning.

    Disgusting. Just…nauseatingly disgusting. WTF is wrong with a lively, intelligent, VERY talented 9 year old girl? Nothing. What is wrong with the people who think being a lively, intelligent, VERY talented 9 year old girl is cause for smackdowns, crass comments, and snide remarks about her name? LOTS.

    Voting against someone because you don’t like their name? Oh, right, so that’s why movie stars are told to change their names, so the Academy voters will pick them…never mind whether their acting ability exists or not. Shows such amazing intelligence among Academy voters (yes, that’s the sarcasm glyph, flaming over all.)

    If any feminist is defending the Onion calling her a c*unt, that person should lose her fem-card for at least a year. (That may not be what’s being said. I haven’t looked, and won’t. I’m supposed to face an elementary school class this afternoon with a smile on my face, not the look of someone ready to swing heavy clue-bats in all directions.) What’s not to like about this kid? I saw an interview with her a few weeks ago and she was delightful. All the things I’d want a 9 year old daughter to be.

  12. As a note, I’m more outraged at MacFarlane than the Onion since in his ending song he referred to Ms. Wallis in a song line that would have had to have rhymed with Helen Hunt. It gives a little context to what The Onion tried an failed horribly to do. I would like some of this to come back to Seth MacFarlane since he made two jokes at this little girl’s expense, both of them completely and inappropriately sexual.

  13. I heard MacFarlane’s joke about it will take 16 years for her to be too old for Clooney and did not see it at all as attacking Ms. Wallis. He did not say that she’s Clooney-bait now, but that in 14 years she will be, and two years after that, she’ll be too old.

    MacFarlane was a pig, but that is one sin he did not commit.

  14. There was huge outrage from the political conservatives, geeks or not. did a story on this, absolutely blasting the Onion for it. As a group, SoCons find it egregiously wrong to label little girls with vile names. Interestingly, of the tweets I read, none of them pointed out the color of her skin. She is a little girl, and the fury was all about *that* — nothing more or less.

  15. John E. O. Stevens

    Really tasteless and mean, whether intended or not.

    It’s sad to watch people rise to the defense of this because they want to preserve some consequence-free space for saying nasty things. Not surprising though.

  16. I wrote to The Onion.
    Thank you for sharing the contact information.
    I’m sharing this post on my social networks, too.

  17. Having been the mother of a very bright nine year old…she seems exactly right. Ebullient is the word I would use. I think the adults around her have made the very wise choice of not over-schooling or quelling her. She’s expressing her real feelings her own way, and confidently.

    And anyone who looks at that and feels the desire to take her down a notch has a moldy conscience and a rotten peach pit where their heart should be.

  18. Seth was a jackass but the Onion ? And everyone who came down like the Wrath of an Old Testament GOD on……a NINE YEAR OLD CHILD??? …for being talented and confident and HAPPY and UNAPOLOGETIC ????? Just , fuckyoudie. No , really. What the hell is WRONG WITH YOU people ? Obnoxious? A brat ?? On what planet was that please ? Because here on EARTH all Miss Wallis was , was talented , confident , happy and unapologetic. All of which she was right to be , all of which any normal decent person would have expected her to be , would have wanted their own child to be in the same circumstances . Lastly, what EXACTLY do you worthless unacknowledged racist pieces of shit feel she needs to be apologetic ABOUT ?? Just diggusted.

  19. OK, so, folks, apparently someone subscribed to the comments on this post, and then reported my site to WordPress for spam when they… got sent comments for this post. I have no idea if this person was just stupid or whether it was malicious — I’m leaning malicious, but who knows — but for now I’m disabling the subscribe to comments feature. Not that that will really stop someone who’s determined to be an asshole, but might as well not make it easy.

  20. While I’m pleased that the Onion’s CEO has issued an actual apology and not a “we’re sorry if we offended anyone” pseudo-apology, I’m still beyond pissed that anybody anywhere thought that tweet was funny, clever, or appropriate.

  21. Thanks for this, Nora. I have to admit this completely slipped by me. The movie (I’d no idea it existed until last night. Yes, I’ve been in a bit of a bubble these past many months.), Miss Wallis, and the kerfuffle. But now I’m going to make a point of seeing this and crow about its coolness.

  22. When ever you mention someones race or ethnicity the first letter of the word is capitalized. Black girl is appropriate, even if you made the mistake when saying White girl.

  23. Agreed, agreed, agreed, but I don’t think Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantasy film. Magical realist, if anything. Not that they’re the same in any other way, but would you consider Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to be a fantasy film because it features depictions of creatures that (debatably) don’t exist outside of the main character’s mind?

  24. I was to busy watching “The Walking Dead” to care about anything that the Oscars were doing but even I know that children should be completely “off the table” as a source of humor unless you are talking about your experiences with your own kids. Jerks.

  25. Just when it looked like Hollywood and the general entertainment blogosphere couldn’t get any lower… gah.

    It’s cruel to do this to a kid. It’s SO not funny.

    [spoilers ahead]

    As for the film, I have very mixed feelings about it, primarily because Hushpuppy is living in a community of *really* messed-up adults, and I can’t see anything good coming from that. She may be a powerful person in her daydreams, but in reality, she’s a little girl whose father is abusive at times. the rest of the adults in the Bathtub seem to be alcoholics.

    I can’t imagine that her life is going to improve.

  26. Wow… You’re offended because Hollywood acts like the spoilt white-male cabal that it is? Oh noes! Let us beat our breasts and smear ashes in our hair… Where have you been for the last 100 years?

    You think this is new? Or special? The girl has a great talent, but so did the people who won on the night. It’s such a subjective circle-jerk of an awards ceremony it means absolutely nothing in the real world.

    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also nominated for 3 awards and didn’t win any of them. Clearly that is something to be more outraged by (seriously – that film was incredible).

    Try turning your focus on to a real issue.

  27. Good point about Jennifer Lawrence. It was a long time ago, but I also don’t remember 11-year old (and white) Anna Paquin being slagged off as “affected” and “insufferable” when she… well, was not only an 11 year-old on the red carpet and during the ceremony, but basically grinned and hiccuped her way through her acceptance speech.

  28. Incidentally, at my last book launch I thanked my family, especially my two kids (11 and 14). And right where they were sitting amid the crowd, when I said their names, they pumped their arms just like Quvenzhané did. I’m glad the Onion wasn’t there…

  29. I have to ask the people thinking “it’s not so serious” or trying to explain away the “jokes”, just what exactly are you trying to uphold? That feminists should be allowed to deride little girls? That supposedly grown men should make sexualized jokes about little girls? That a media institution should be able to pick on a little girl because of her colour and name?

    In that case, what the hell is wrong with you?

  30. There were so many things wrong with the Oscars (host, outsourcing the orchestra to a different building?!??, 3/4 of the show being about Broadway musicals which actually have their own award show thank you, and the list goes on) I would not know where to begin. The host made just as many nasty, snarky, cutting comments about individuals as Ricky Gervais did at Golden Globes. I think the audience missed all that because Seth MacFarlaine kind of sort of looks like he might possibly be classy…but then he opens his mouth and you find out what is going on in his twisted mind. I think most of the remarks flew over the heads of the entire audience (the majority being Hollywood professionals of all types)…so what does that say about their comprehension skills in general? They were visibly uncomfortable and upset at Ricky Gervais at the Globes, to the point of angrily responding to him on-stage…Robert Downey Jr. for one. And, again, Robert Downey Jr. seemed like the only one willing to take a stand as he did not seem too happy with his group’s presentation speech and I don’t think that was part of the bit. The viewing audience should make it abundantly clear to the Oscars that if they want to be taken as a serious award show worthy of the ad time they are selling, they should cut the snide/crass/classless “seen your boobs” level of what they apparently think is humor. Otherwise, they should do well to go back to presenting their awards in a private banquet that is not preempting the better shows that we all could have been watching (Once Upon A Time).

  31. So, nkjemison, let me see if I have this straight… someone is an “asshole” and “malicious” for reporting this site because they want it stopped (I assume, I don’t know, admittedly) but… isn’t that somewhat of what you’re trying to do to The Onion?

    Who are you or anyone else to say who’s right and who’s wrong. You think the Onion is wrong; good for you! What about those people out there who think you’re wrong? They’re just “assholes” and “malicious” for having an opinion? Are you saying they should be dismissed? For shame… you mentioned acting like 12-year olds… well, that course of action seems very immature to me.

    Why can’t other people have an opinion and say what they want? And, incidentally, if that makes them horrible human beings in your mind, then I very much feel sorry for you or anyone else who thinks in such a way. Again, who is anyone to say what a good human is. Everyone has a different opinion. Who’s right? If you, for an instant, think you are the only one who is right, then, please, open your mind to the fact that there are others in the world.

  32. Ok, I have to the respond to the whole “but she is a brat” defense. I live in a bubble. I avoid TV like the plague. I cannot, from first-hand knowledge, say a thing ‘about Ms. Wallis’ behavoir. I seriously doubt she is a “brat,” because if she truly was an undisciplined child, the media would be all over it. I find the lack of actual examples telling. However, it doesn’t matter. Here’s the point I want to make. *IT DOESN’T MATTER IF SHE’S A “BRAT” OR NOT* Is this how you train a child to display good behavoir? By calling them an absolutely vile name? To publically criticize and humiliate them? There is absolutely no defense for this treatment of a nine year old. None.

  33. @Rebecca Godina: Co-signed! If we’re going to talk about who was a “brat” in that room, I’m looking straight at that guy who started the telecast with an enormously creepy (and racist) alleged joke about partner abuse, worked in a painfully infantile production number about BOOBS! and then made a nine year old the punchline of an enormously creepy (and racist) alleged joke about George Clooney’s supposed sexual proclivities.

    If anyone needs a long time out (with suspension of their TV privileges) to think about what they did yesterday, it’s Seth MacFarlane not Quvenzhané Wallis.

  34. Those “she is a brat” comments remind me of how the media likes to call Sasha Obama sassy. Attacks on a black girl who doesn’t yet know her place.

  35. Pingback: Team Quvenzhané | crazy dumbsaint of the mind

  36. Just wanted to say that I saw Quvenzhané in an interview in which she was…. a 9-year old girl…. Nothing more, nothing less… No brat, no disturbing miniature-actress type (you know the kind), nothing like that… just a nice 9-year old, intelligent, talented and giggling about
    the fact she had to sneeze…. So… don’t really see the point of all the crazy comments about her behaviour…

    The jokes… well… I don’t want to minimize it by saying… it’s Hollywood… but it is. What I do find shocking is that I (even in my media vacuum) didn’t hear about it… seems it’s not as “important” as certain other pieces of show-news… That saddens me, because this little girl (and I hope her parents are shading her from media attention), does not deserve such ridiculous comments, and she deserves much more outrage….

    Also, now I really want to see the film…. Was already on my list, but your recommendation makes it jump several places!

  37. Just a thought: I don’t think it’s even reasonable to call her cocky or arrogant. The stuff she does and her body language are no different from what is deemed perfectly acceptable and admirable from a white child. She just happens to come off as smart, which is apparently a problem when you’re a Black girl (or even woman).

  38. Some of the “she’s a brat” comments sound perilously close to “she’s being uppity”. I’m sorry, but they do. What – exactly – has she done that has been bratty? She’s confident and EXCITED that she’s the youngest person EVER to be nominated for an Academy Award and she’s “bratty”?


    Seriously – give an example.

    And the “arm pumping” doesn’t count – because that came from the MOVIE!

    I have seen her in countless interviews and she comes off as highly intelligent, extremely self aware and very happy, excited and well adjusted.

    I think the “she’s bratty” people need to go and check their motives and think about where that is coming from. I’m fully Southern and I’ve only ever seen her be polite and charming in interviews. Bratty? Never.

  39. Re: Quvenzhane Wallis as a brat or not: my husband saw an extended interview with her on one of the talk/interview shows (I want to say Charlie Rose but I’m likely wrong) some weeks ago. He came away praising her to the skies as self-aware beyond her years and with a real sense of what she wants to do as an actor. Which wasn’t easy to tell, based on one performance, which we loved but which might have been a fluke. But it’s really hard for me to imagine, based on the report of the interview, that she’s suddenly turned bratty — even Drew Barrymore took longer than that to fall apart.

    Re: lack of outrage among fantasy fans: doesn’t this have something to do with the limited ways we think about fantasy in film? Look at all the people on this thread who say they hadn’t been aware that the movie was a fantasy, or hadn’t even been much aware of it at all. It seems to me that we’ve been trained in the past few years to define movie-fantasy as epic series stuff. And more recently still as YA series stuff — and Beasts of the Southern Wild isn’t a piece of an epic, and it’s not aimed at the YA market.

  40. Agree wholeheartedly that Onion went over the line of “satire” into vicious, unfunny insult to a little girl. I emailed them last night.

    Just commenting because I noticed some commenters saying they hadn’t seen the movie, and were interested now. Yes! It’s a wonderful, original movie. I can’t imagine it coming out of the Hollywood machine (of course, it didn’t). The scene of the little girls charging on a mission dances in my memory.

  41. Yeah, this “she’s a brat” mess ain’t nothing more than “she’s an uppity, little nigger bitch who needs to be shown her place.”

    Oh and for you folks who don’t know what freedom of speech really consists of from Tumblr:

    The First Amendment does not protect you from:

    Criticism: If you’re a comedian who makes a bad rape joke, people are allowed to point out that you’re not funny as well as an asshole.

    Shame: If you tweet something racist about President Obama on your public Twitter account that’s connected to your first and last name, people are allowed to say that is bad.

    The Right to Anonymity: If you take creepy photos of women without their consent and post them on Reddit, people are allowed to try and figure out who you are and post your information on the internet. No one is entitled to anonymity. It’s up to you whether to make it easy for people to find you.

    Mockery: If you put yourself out there that means your peers (and news outlets) have the right to LOL and comment.

    Consequences: If you publicly express yourself in a manner that is offensive, hurtful, or just plain dumb, strangers might contact your friends/family/school/employer and tell them what you did. That is not infringing on your right to free speech; it’s pointing out how you choose to exercise that right. Like the rest of the federal constitution, the First Amendment protects us from the government, not from private companies, which may be able to fire or otherwise punish you for stuff you say, even if it’s outside of work. The laws protecting the free speech of private employees vary from state to state, aside from specifically protected speech like labor organizing.

    Here’s a link to the whole article. It’s on Jezebel and while I hate that site, even a stopped clock is right twice a day:

  42. Pingback: Knews Feed » Maureen Ryan: What's The Times Got Wrong About The Onion Controversy

  43. I haven’t seen the movie. I didn’t watch the Oscar’s. I didn’t know how to pronounce this young lady’s name, either, though I had seen it written. Thanks to the radio, I knew she was the youngest Oscar nominee. Thing is, I didn’t know until just now by weird trick of Twitter emailing me some random stuff and then me following it around (again, through someone’s Twitter feed on their blog) that she was black or that apparently the world had just gone insane because of that.

    Just as a disclaimer, I’m a middle-aged white guy, but seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? Miss Wallis is apparently every inch a talented, well mannered professional. 99% of the people I know don’t manage that description, and she does it as a 9 year old girl. Regardless of anything else, these old men with their old men mental problems need to get one particular thing straight in this situation. Miss Wallis is some other guy’s daughter. His baby girl.

    So, regardless of your own particular inbred wrong headedness, just thing about that man, and exactly how he might react if he were to find out that you had publicly done, said or written what you just did. Probably the exact same thing as if you’d done that to my daughter or if anyone else on the planet had done that to your daughter. So, going forward, there are your guidelines to work through before you put your thoughts out in public as words or actions. If it wouldn’t pleas you to have me calling your daughter a cunt on the internet simply to spite her for her brilliance, don’t you dare do the same to anyone else.

  44. Hey “Monday”? You do realize that being called a racist, misogynist asshole is NOWHERE NEAR as bad as BEING a racist, misogynist asshole, right? One is hurt fee-fees, the other is systemic oppression. If you can’t figure out which is which, get the hell out of dodge.

  45. Pingback: “I was just *joking*” » Ann Somerville's Blog

  46. I didn’t watch the Oscars, but when I saw my twitter stream this morning, I was beyond incoherent with rage that anyone would attack this amazing, talented child. (And MacFarlene can go die in a fire, as far as I’m concerned.)

  47. Okay, wait, who is calling Wallis a brat? I’m sincerely curious- I’ve heard nothing but praise for her, but I also don’t watch television or venture into the seedier corners of the internet. That said, even in my relative isolation, I heard no end of criticism of Anne Hathaway, and Renee Zellwegger, and any number of other women over the course of the awards.

  48. Note to all: I’m going to reply only sparingly to the comments here. I’m busy. But feel free to comment amongst yourselves, so long as you keep it civil.

    Also note: I’ve been letting the dissenters through on this if they’ve been civil, even if the mansplaining/whitesplaining and/or derailment is strong with those ones. But I’m eyeballing them, and if I see signs of derailment occurring, I’ll cut them.

    Out of the conversation.

    That’s all I meant. I swear.

    ETA: For those wondering who called Ms. Wallis a brat, and whatever else got said, Racialicious has a good summary.

  49. Angela Beegle,

    Please note that link in the OP to a conservative site on which the President’s daughters got called everything but their names. Social conservatives are in no way immune to bigotry.

    That said, bigotry isn’t partisan, and I’ve seen some heinouse shit coming out of the mouths of noted liberal or non-partisan pundits and sites (like the Onion) to prove it.

  50. Los,

    Thanks so much! That’s exactly what I needed, a total stranger “correcting” me on how to express my identity. What ever would I do without people like you?

  51. Monday: “So, nkjemison, let me see if I have this straight… someone is an “asshole” and “malicious” for reporting this site because they want it stopped (I assume, I don’t know, admittedly) but… isn’t that somewhat of what you’re trying to do to The Onion?”

    Right, because fraudulently reporting someone for something they didn’t do with the intent of shutting them down entirely is EXACTLY the same as honestly calling someone out for something they actually did do with the intent of getting them to apologize and hopefully change their ways.

  52. “The Hobbit” not winning is worth more outrage than racism and sexism from grown@$$ people toward a 9-year-old.

    I have now heard everything.

    I am stunned and just… going to go lie down.

  53. Hmm, I think I’ll object to all the infantile behavior by paying to go see that movie! We almost did once when it first came out, but ran out of time. I hope we’ll see more of that actress and a future Oscar will motivate them to learn her name properly.

  54. Quvenzhané Wallis just got cast in the title role of a high profile remake of Annie directed by Will Gluck (Easy A). Sometimes success is the best revenge.

  55. Pingback: I weep for my species | Congratulations, it's a grain of rice!

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  58. Regarding Nico’s comment (copied at the very end of this message) – you hit the nail on the head. If the general public truly understood satire (and many, unfortunately, do not), then this tweet wouldn’t have become nearly as scandalous as it unfortunately has.

    That said, I don’t condone The Onion’s tweet, but mostly because it was poorly conceived satire; too easy to be misconstrued by the public at large precisely because such an emotionally charged word (for a mostly American audience) was used in tandem with a 9 year old child. I think the writer of the tweet should have been more mindful of the general public’s extreme dislike of the word in conjunction with its all-too-common inability to identify and understand irony and satire.

    To quote another comment that I think succinctly explains the tweet’s intent, “The girl wasn’t the target for satire, the joke was the absurdity of being mean to the cutest, sweetest little girl to ever be nominated for the Oscar. The target was our celeb-bashing culture.”

    Frankly, I think The Onion is being slammed far too harshly.

    Nico posted on February 25, 2013 • 10:08 am
    “Makes sense except the Onion thing. The Onion’s on your side. They do satire, in this case, satirizing idiots who think that they need to call a 9-year-old girl “insufferable.” They satirized that by calling her a cunt, which is obviously absurd and offensive, and calls attention to the absurdity and offensiveness of her treatment at the hands of everybody else.

    It might have been too offensive to get its point across, but there’s also no need to take it at face value and try to boycott the Onion.”

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  62. For Chris, Nico, and everyone else who’s like “but it’s satire! you just didn’t get it!”… no. “It’s satire” is not a get-out-of-fuckup-free card.

    A lot of people have been commenting on this (including Baratunde Thurston, a trained comedian and former Director of Digital at the Onion). And what they’re all saying is that the tweet was bad satire.

    Most people get that it was meant as satire. I also get that the Onion has, historically, been good at satire — I’ve been a fan of theirs for years because of that. Thing is, good satire aims upward. It works best when it skewers people with power, and balances the scales a little between the powerful and the less-so. When satire comes from powerful people making fun of the people who get shat on all the time, it just looks mean-spirited and — if there’s a history of discrimination against that group — bigoted. This is why so many of Seth MacFarlane’s jokes went over like lead balloons. Top-down satire just reinforces the same old ugliness that’s not funny in everyday life… at least not to those of us who are on the receiving end of that shit on the regular.

    So yeah, I know it was intended to be funny. I disagree with Mr. Thurston on the idea that intention matters, though; as with any incidence of bigotry, ultimately what we have to look at is the result. The result is that one of the most powerful media organizations in the country decided to call a little brown girl, who can’t even make people learn to pronounce her damn name right — hell, who can’t even dictate what time she goes to bed — a cunt. And this is in the context of a whole week of powerful people stereotyping her, maligning her confidence, and sexualizing her — just as has been done to millions of little girls like her, for literally centuries.

    So, yeah, it’s satire. It failed.

  63. ^^ Agreed. Satire or not, it wasn’t funny. It was hurtful and utterly distasteful. That said, I’m not going to boycott the Onion for the actions of one individual who, the apology has made abundantly clear, does not speak for the entire organization. Honestly, given the usual nature of the Onion, I think the fact that they apologized at all speaks volumes. (If they habitually pulled stuff like this, though, it’d be very different.)

    McFarlane, on the other hand, is someone I’ve never had any respect for, and my only question there is why on EARTH the Academy thought it would be a good idea for him to host the Oscars. Sigh.

  64. Grace,

    Timing matters; at the time I wrote this post, the Onion had not yet apologized or distanced itself from the tweet. There’s no need to boycott now that a desirable outcome has been achieved.

    I assume the Academy got what it wanted from having MacFarlane host. You don’t hire a crass bigot to represent your organization unless you’re OK with crass bigotry, after all. I’d like to see an apology from the Academy too, but to be honest I expected nothing better from them in the first place.

  65. @Chris: What nkjemisin, with this added observation from Comedy/Satire 101 (and applicable to all writing, BTW): If you haven’t clearly communicated your “intent” to your audience, you’ve failed.

    A really good way to prevent people thinking you’re racist, misogynistic and generally assholy is… well, don’t be racist, misogynistic and generally assholy.

  66. Another one in the category wherein the only reason I wasn’t outraged was that, until reading through various posts TODAY (yes, Tuesday), I hadn’t a clue it had happened. I’m rather glad the Onion apologized, and to all appearances without the “Sorry you think you’re hurt” fauxpology vibe, but it does mean I will be watching their writing more closely, with a bit less trust.

    And it has sounded like a good movie to me for a long while, but we don’t watch a lot first run. I’ll have to hunt it up, though.

    I have a pretty good guess just from reading it how one pronounces Quvenzhané — the biggest question is probably where the stress is. (My instinct says first strongly and third weak). It requires, however, actually reading what’s there. I remember a coworker complaining that she had no idea how to pronounce Srivastava, too (the visiting printer technician’s surname), and I had to break it down syllable by syllable for her. (And she still complained).

    Sigh – McFarlane should have been a mistake, but like you, I think it was too aware a choice. (Thing is, I can see a way to make the George Clooney joke, and make it pointedly about him, and without sexualizing a nine-year-old. It just takes a half a minute of thought. Too much for McFarlane to spare, clearly.)

  67. I’m always a little torn about how to respond to organizations that do something terrible and then issue a sincere apology for it, like the Onion has done. On the one hand, even the best apology can’t take words back or fully reverse the damage, so it seems unfair to just go back to reading them as if nothing happened. On the other, continuing to boycott an organization that apologizes gives organizations that make mistakes in the future zero incentive to apologize and every incentive to double-down. Maybe they deserve a temporary boycott, like a two-week time out for bad behaviour or something. I don’t know.

    As an aside, Andy, your post made my day. It takes a lot of chutzpah to go on a noted fantasy author’s site and correct her identification of a fantasy work. Don’t stop there, though! The SFWA is under a similar misapprehension; they nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild for a Nebula Award. You should contact them, as they clearly lack anyone with your expertise in categorizing fiction.

  68. “(Thing is, I can see a way to make the George Clooney joke, and make it pointedly about him, and without sexualizing a nine-year-old. It just takes a half a minute of thought. Too much for McFarlane to spare, clearly.)”

    Up to a point. I’m twenty-seven years younger than my partner (and there was a similar age-gap between my parents) so I don’t find it intrinsically laughable – or somehow ‘creepy’ – that George Clooney is a consenting adult who has sex/relationships/is seen in public with other consenting adults who happen to be significantly younger than him. To me, that alleged joke would have been just as foul on that level if the butt had been 22 year-old Jennifer Lawrence.

  69. *argh*

    I missed any information about the film (odds that it played near to where we live in rural Texas VERY low), or anything beyond the general commentary on MacFarland’s dipshittery–I never watch award shows, they make me all twitchy and grumpy!

    Am reposting with some other links–thank you!

  70. Chris Lites said, “It’s the Oscars. People watch to be catty, snide and self-indulgent. hosts make fun of the stand out films/actors of the time. A cigar is sometimes just a cigar.”
    How presumptuous. I have never watched the Oscars to make fun of anyone or snark at the audience and films. I watch it to see what passes off as our royalty. I love to see the gowns and diamonds. The glitterier, the better! I rarely even see someone I think made a terrible fashion faux pas, though there have been a few. I was tired after nearly 4 hours of extravaganza but thoroughly entertained. Loved Streisand’s tribute to Marvin Hamlisch.

    I am not pleased at the hatred shown to Quevenzhané. She is a very talented little girl and I hope she doesn’t get squashed by a cynical public who hasn’t yet grown out of their bigotry.

  71. I don’t really follow movies, or the Oscars, at all, so I’d never heard of the kid until I read this.

    But… she looks adorable, and in those gifs, I don’t see insufferable, I see cute and proud. She’s not being a brat about it, she’s not jumping around or yelling, she just looks happy and proud.

    I can see what the Onion was trying for, but… clumsily executed at best, and that’s a risky as hell joke line, so that kind of language was a bad, bad choice. Seth McFarlane, who I’d also never heard of, I’m pretty sure, just… ew.

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  73. I didn’t watch the Oscars, but by all accounts and clips, it was a disaster. My teenage daughter was not pleased. McFarlane actually does a lot of solid, subversive, upward satire in his animated shows and projects, and got a black character led animated show on the air, but it’s mixed with crude frat boy humor and it’s not urbane or even stand-up comedy for natural hosting. The Academy wants to grab the younger ad-desired demo, which they’ve been loosing, and clearly thought having McFarlane would bring them lots of teenage boys and young males, (who indeed don’t know a movie is fantasy unless it’s on soda cans a lot of the time.) And it did apparently work — ratings were up and younger viewers were up. But it would have worked just as well if McFarlane had not panicked and gone for the lowest common denominator, given that this year had a lot of exciting, younger nominees in it. It’s long been a “joke” concerning Hollywood about waiting for female teen and child stars to turn 18, be legal and thus it being supposedly no longer creepy to lust after them — the Olsen twins, Hilary Duff, etc., to excuse misogyny throughout Hollywood, and McFarlane applied that logic to a nine year old black girl. Extremity doesn’t automatically mean successful humor. What it does is keep old bigotries in place.

    Which goes for the Onion too. When I heard what they did, I was just furious. It was a betrayal. I’m glad they apologized and are cleaning up after the mess, but that anyone over there thought that the context of the joke would work for satire in the first place indicates age old and ugly social viewpoints from an organization that is supposed to be shattering them. She was there in her dress and her puppy purse, knowing she wasn’t going to win, just there to have the night of her life after a job well done. And now she has to get asked about this again and again by media. To try and score a Twitter point for the Onion.

    But I think one bright aspect to all this, maybe, is that it’s a reflection of another sort of progress. Women made large inroads on big budget action movies in 2011 and 2012, in getting media attention for their acting roles in dramatic films as well as for their outfits, in outselling the men in music, in being the leads of t.v. shows, etc. And this is the backlash — we saw your boobs. Don’t get too big for your britches, little ladies, because we can still make you strip naked on film, we can still call you sexist slurs and claim it’s funny, and make sex jokes about little girls and how young actresses are just our playthings because we still run everything. It had a distinct smack of fear to it and McFarlane went for that because it was easy and he was expected to be “edgy” and he was nervous about the hosting role. He gave us what he thought we wanted when he has a lot more to offer, and that was a cultural threat reaction to women making big strides, even at the young age of 9, or 22, and at the older age of 86.

    And then Jemisin went and had to tell me about the comments at Jezebel and squash that bright side a bit. Sigh. If there’s one thing women, especially young women, need to be right now to get anywhere in a world desperately trying to return to 1850, it’s too big for their britches. Especially when it comes to Hollywood, which reluctantly toasted Kathryn Bigelow for one film and this year viciously went after her for attempting something even more ambitious and centered around a female character. Or more realistically, in retaliation for her being the first female director to win. But it would be nice if there was a moratorium so that an actress could get to say at least 12, 14 before being the punchline about why women doing anything awesome is offensive and must be undercut.

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  75. She should have won the Oscar; her acting was phenomenal. The scene in which all the little abandoned girls are innertubing across the water to find their mothers? Unforgettable.

    Ragging on a 9-year-old and sexualizing her? I’m throwing up in my mouth. This society’s problems aren’t all gun related.

  76. They called a nine-year-old girl a *what*? Ew. Just ew. And no, that’s not satire. That’s just disgusting.

    The whole night, I kept wondering why MacFarlane thought Creepy Uncle would work well on an Oscar host. And what was up with the boobs song?

    Every time I watch the Oscars, I kind of regret it. Too much second-hand embarrassment and the actresses always get trashed. Then any actresses of color who are fortunate(?) enough to get nominated get trashed even worse. Remember the year Halle Berry won? Yeesh.

    I didn’t know people were actually saying all that crap about this little girl until I read this, but I wish I were shocked by it. Class definitely gets left behind on the red carpet on Oscar Night.

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  79. I didn’t even hear about this, and since I don’t follow the Acadamy Awards… (Side note: A fantasy movie got made? I thought that only happened in fantasy novels!)

    Anyways: fucking ridiculous. This child should be lauded, not shot down on account of ignorance, and certainly NEVER sexualized or referred to with demeaning language. Who the hell gets off calling this little girl *anything* other than extraordinary?!

    Which is why I don’t follow the Oscars.

    And which is also why I no longer follow The Onion.

    So my outrage starts now.

    My own name consists of two (2) syllables and most people still say it wrong–most just ignoring my corrections, but some going so far as to correct my pronunciation of my own name. So fuck ’em. I mispronounce their names on purpose, and that usually does the trick.

  80. I am just now reading this as I just finished the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I watched the Oscars and thought Ms. Wallis was one of the best parts. Yes I am White and I do think the negative comments are coming from a racist perspective. I didn’t read anything after the show so had NO IDEA peopl e responded this way. She was happy to be there and hoping she would win. What is wrong with that? I am so sad that people tried to steal her joy and BULLY her. With all the attention being given to bullying how can people knowingly cause such painnto a 9 year old. It’s horrific and cruel.

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