Why the Onion's Crappy Apology Is Worthless
The satirical site's mea culpa to Quvenzhané Wallis makes it OK to take things even further.
Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry.
When you put something out there in the media, good or bad, it's out there and can't be taken back, no matter how sorry you are. Just ask Don Imus. His infamous "nappy-headed hoes" quip was heard and never unheard, because the damage was done, like throwing acid in the face of a girl in Afghanistan who is trying to get an education, or a slave owner raping one of his slaves. It's just that sexist and racist, and I'm not sparing the feelings of anyone at the Onion, since they didn't spare Quvenzhané's.
So while an apology is part and parcel when someone says or does something this thoughtless, it only really pushes the envelope a little further for someone else who believes that in order to be funny someone needs to be offended.
Don't get me wrong -- edgy comedy is funny. Hell, Richard Pryor did it for years, and I'll argue that he's the funniest man of all time. But as raunchy as his language was, he never directly aimed it at anyone's child. He was smart enough to know that what he said had to be carefully engineered not only for maximum impact, but to make the social statements that he intended.
So perhaps that's the takeaway from all this: When you try to be funny, be adhesive. What came out of the Onion was the opposite. In fact it was like dress socks on a bamboo floor: It caused the people at the Onion to slip and fall on their unfunny asses.
This is why, as many n-words and M-Fs as Pryor spewed, he never once had to apologize for them, because there was nothing to apologize for. It was just hot, sticky truth.
Madison Gray is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and Web journalist. Follow him on Twitter.