Oscar host Seth MacFarlane got plenty of groans from the audience for jokes that crossed the line of good taste, but the line that really upset people wasn't said on stage. It was a satirical tweet from famous fake news source The Onion, and it started a firestorm of protest on Twitter.
The subject of the tweet was 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, the breakout star of the multiple-nominated independent drama, "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Wallis, with her adorable openness and puppy purses, has been a favorite on the red carpet throughout the award season. So The Onion made a joke meant to poke fun at the constant online sniping directed at celebrities, but many observers felt it went way too far by using a highly offensive obscenity.
The tweet was deleted from The Onion's Twitter feed, but it had already drew a flood of ire on social media.
The Onion shouldn't use real-life children for attempts at adult humor, satire or not.
— Tom Bellino (@tombellino) February 25, 2013
Personally I hope who ever from The Onion sent that tweet about Quvenzhane Wallis gets FIRED. You don't attack 9-year-old little girls .... — Donnie (@SoKo504) February 25, 2013
That Onion Tweet: A Case Study in How to Lose Years of Goodwill Pretty Much Instantly.
— rachelsklar (@rachelsklar) February 25, 2013
UPDATE: The morning after the offending tweet, Onion CEO Steven Hannah apologized in the following statement:
"On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.
No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.
The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.
In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible.
Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry."