We are told we are respected, and yet »« Pax skepticana

Everyone else seems afraid to say it

Meanwhile the Onion shows how it’s done, while live-tweeting the Oscars, by calling a nine-year-old girl a cunt. Well why not after all? She’s a girl. Hey if you object to that you must be a PROFESSIONAL VICTIM. Quit SCOURING THE INTERNET TO FIND SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?

And then of course the reporting misses the point quite thoroughly, as perhaps we should have expected. (By “we” I mean “I.”)

On the one hand, it’s a joke on playing on how utterly sweet, adorable and not-at-all C-word-like Wallis was at the Oscars. On the other hand, she’s 9, and words don’t come any worse than that one.

Uh, right, because there is such a thing as being cunt-like, and some people are like that, and they of course should be called cunts, because being cunt-like is so self-evidently terrible and awful.

Sigh.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m maintaining a policy of strict indifference on that one. I get what they were trying to do, but I think involving a 9-year-old girl was, in the end, a line that even the Onion shouldn’t have crossed.

    But then I wasn’t really offended myself, at least no more than some of the Onion’s usual fare.

  2. says

    No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.

    That could be a fitting description of a certain group of haters “disagreement”…

  3. says

    Well why not after all? She’s a girl.

    a black girl. The stuff said to non-white girls is often both worse and more common than the stuff said to white girls.

    Also note that in defending the comment and the jokes at her expense, assholes were calling her a “woman”, even though a)that wouldn’t matter, and b)she most definitely isn’t a grown woman. There’s some very deep, sexist and racist shit going on here.

  4. mythbri says

    @BrianX

    I think it would be more accurate to say that you’re maintaining a position of neutrality, not indifference – although you’re free to correct me.

    I’m usually a fan of The Onion. They can do fantastic satire. This – this was huge fail. Perhaps due to the medium (140 characters makes it hard to convey tricky satire, I’m sure), but more likely due to a major lapse in judgment.

    I’m with Jadehawk here – Quvenzhané is being insulted on multiple levels. The idea that women of color are “hypersexual” is by no means uncommon, and is often used to excuse abuse against them.

  5. carlie says

    Jadehawk – Here’s an article agreeing with you.

    When I saw The Onion’s tweet, I immediately shook my head in disgust, trying to think back to the time when they’d showered the same type of “satire” on Dakota Fanning after her breakout performance in I Am Sam. Failing at that, I attempted to lament over the incident when her sister, Elle, was referred to as a future date for George Clooney. No? How about the time when Anna Paquin walked the red carpet for The Piano and media reduced her to nothing but a sex object on legs? Well, what about when an E! reporter told Abigail Breslin that she was just going to call her Olive, because Abigail was too much to remember?What do you think?

    You’re struggling, and it’s cool, because we all know those moments don’t exist. And for young, white ingenues they never will. White children have a value, a cache in our society that Quvenzhane Wallis wouldn’t have even if her name were Sarah Jane Smith. It goes so, far beyond the fork in the road her name puts a white tongue through. Yes, she can be Annie but on any given day in White America, Oscar Nominated or not, Quvenzhane isn’t seen as having any more societal worth and importance than a Minny. Calling a nine year old that word for over 4 million followers, and being dismissive of her given name, all while hypersexualising her is just further proof of that.

  6. brucegee1962 says

    Wait, wait. I thought she had ceased being a child or a woman or a person of color or a human being. She’s been in a movie, so that means she’s a celebrity, right? And surely we all know that being a celebrity makes you fair game for any kind of s*** that anybody cares to throw at you. Once your name appears in People magazine, you automatically lose any personal feelings or right to complain about how people treat you. You need to just stand there and take it, as if you were a robot or a public monument or something. You’re sort of public property, you know? Isn’t that how it works?

  7. evilDoug says

    … in the end, a line that even the Onion shouldn’t have crossed

    No. Not in the end. It is a line at the very beginning that no one should have crossed. Why “even”? What the fuck gives the Onion the privilege of of an almost-exemption to do that kind of shit.

  8. says

    I was reading the mixed comments in leftwingfox fb link @3 the one’s who don’t see the word “cunt” as being a problem are really scary. People who complain are just seen as language police and a nuisance.

  9. doubtthat says

    @6

    Let’s not overreact, here. Of course they made those jokes about other young actresses:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frC_JEGg4Ew

    For those who don’t want to follow the link, starting around 5:15 Kathy Griffin jokes about Dakota fanning going to rehab. Watch the Bob Saget roast for endless jokes about the Olsen twins.

    I’m not defending the specific jokes aimed at Wallis, but this isn’t anything new. The premise of all the jokes are based on the obvious innocence of the children. In all cases the target of the joke is NOT the child. Clooney was the butt of the joke, not Wallis. I promise you that every young, popular actress or singer will become the subject for these same, tired jokes. Wallis is just the new, high profile child actress. They made the jokes about Britney Spears, they made the jokes about Hermione from Harry Potter…In fact, this is the first African American child I can remember being used in that way, progress? (no)

    Now, that’s not to defend the appropriateness or quality of that type of joke, but for some reason people are acting like it was some unprecedented event. Hell, I think Daniel Tosh has it written in his contract to make an underaged girl joke in every show.

    And the Onion’s joke was equally obvious: here is someone who is totally innocent, completely delightful, and a joy in every way, the absolute opposite of that slur. It’s like saying, “I’ll be the first to say it, LeBron James needs to learn how to play basketball.” They were not calling her a “cunt,” they were joking about how absurd it would be to do such a thing.

    Again, I’m glad they apologized, they shouldn’t have published that tweet, it was beneath their standards and wrong in ways that other have pointed out, but I find it sort of amazing that folks (not necessarily people posting here) are baffled about the intent. There’s plenty to criticize even when we acknowledge what they were doing.

  10. doubtthat says

    To be clear, I should have said “what is intended by the C-word,” I agree with Ophelia’s assessment in the OP, which is why the joke shouldn’t have been made.

  11. doubtthat says

    I wish I could edit…

    I think the problem with the Onion’s tweet becomes obvious if you replace the C-word with the N-word. There’s really no difference in intent, just the target: associate negativity with race vs. gender

  12. says

    I said the NOTION was crap, that it’s INVALID, that it SHOULD NEVER BE USED.

    I didn’t say ANYTHING about whether or not it’s used against black women or whether or not it’s a systemic problem because it CLEARLY IS RACIST AND SYSTEMIC AND NEEDS TO BE TOSSED OUT. Fuck, I thought that was pretty much a given!

    So don’t go calling me a “dumbass” just because you want to read more into my comment than was there!

  13. says

    evilDoug:

    The Onion regularly does very offensive jokes. I don’t mean “politically incorrect”, I mean “torch the barn and string up the owners” offensive. Usually they get away with it because they’re very good at it and everyone knows what they’re about. In this case, I think they went a little too far over the “punch up, not down” boundary by making the subject of the joke the mockery of a young African-American girl. You’re always treading on thin ice when you mock someone (in this case, whiny, racist armchair critics) by using a third party, but this particular case, it failed through lack of context.

  14. says

    Clooney was the butt of the joke, not Wallis.

    Yeah, just imagine being 9 years old while somebody is using a stage to make jokes about you having sex with somebody who could be your grandpa. Totally funny harharhar. Clearly, that’s much more uncomfortable for Cloony and his taste for young women

  15. lanir says

    Not terribly surprising… Indignant asshats who don’t want to treat other people as people will always duck for whatever cover is convenient. Today it’s “satire” and the apology was timely and well said. It was also quite appropriate, strangely moreso than the coverage of it. As Ophelia noticed, the whole problem with what happened has quite obviously escaped a number of those reporting on it and been minimized to “they said an impolite word in public”.

    In my experience, the hypersexualized thing for black women would be a reflection of the popular culture some of them appear to be a part of (yeah I know, FLAME ON, but please read a bit further first). Some of the music gets very over the top macho about sex. At one point while working in a warehouse job I was amazed to see a couple black males start up a little boombox with music like that and watch while a handful of black girls working with us would say the lyrics along with the song even as it rambled into some ridiculous and demeaning description of oral sex and ramblingly incoherent misogyny. I understood they weren’t really thinking about what they were saying, it was just a song to them. The words were no more important than “Twinkle, twinkle little star”.

    Later I understood this much better when I realized it had nothing really to do with race and everything to do with the sort of culture you see in any area where poverty was common (it wasn’t a great warehouse job – we were all minimum wage temps). The only reason I noticed it when people of another race were involved is because I’d been seeing similar themes in people of my own race (who were also poverty stricken) and discounting it as normal. I’ve also since noticed quite a lot more songs parodying the overblown macho thing, which I take as a really good sign. Which incidentally (while still not my thing really) is what actual satire can look like: a positive portrayal ridiculing silly things we do to ourselves and each other.

  16. lanir says

    Whoops… I guess I should make sure to add that the hypersexualized thing is obviously a mistaken impression that has nothing really to do with reality. Above anecdotal experience is just one that might be easy to thoughtlessly fall into. Key there being once you think about it, it’s ridiculous.

  17. doubtthat says

    @20

    Couple of things:

    1) I never said that made it “ok,” or “good,” just that the joke wasn’t really “sexualizing” a 9 year old girl. It was a joke about Clooney, and using a 9 year old in the audience wasn’t a great idea. This poor girl went from thinking she was going to get an oscar to dealing with a bunch of stuff that no one her age should have to. Nevertheless, I think criticism should be targeted and accurate, not scattershot.

    2) I was also responding to the claim in the previous quoted excerpt that this sort of thing never happens to young white girls. It does. All the time.

    Neither of those points is to excuse or defend the joke, but suspect behavior shouldn’t be used as a launching off point for any random argument people want to make.

  18. And How says

    Wonder if anyone from the Shirley Temple era ever called her a cunt? Or made a joke about Shirley Temple as being a possible date for George Clooney? These jokes linking children and sex are over the line and just not funny imo.

    I do like some humor directed at child actresses. Here is an example:

    Your Daddy’s so stupid, he thinks Shirley Temple is a church ! :)

  19. spartan says

    I thought that this, a little bit on the opposite side, was an interesting commentary, I think it explains possibly what ‘the joke’ on this comment was supposed to actually be communicating::

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2013/02/a_feminist_film_critic_defends.html

    “Hollywood and pop culture — including most pop culture watchers, such as the mostly male ranks of film critics and the mostly rank roster of “serious” film fans who populate movie sites from the IMDb to Rotten Tomatoes – is absolutely vile to women, with extra bile if they’re famous and don’t give that particular boy a boner.

    If you wanted highlight how horrible those people can be, how would you do it? You could tweet

    Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Kristen Stewart is kind of a cunt, right?

    But that’s not satirical, because that very thing gets said on a regular basis.

    You could tweet

    Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Jennifer Lawrence is kind of a cunt, right?

    But, again, that wouldn’t be satire. It would be the reality of what too many people think and aren’t afraid to say publicly and for all eternity on the never-forgetting Internet.

    What highlights how outrageous is the loathsome treatment of women on the Web?

    Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?

    That gets attention in a way that calling a famous adult woman the same thing never does. Because it’s clearly outrageous in a way that, apparently, isn’t quite so clear-cut when it comes to an adult woman. But she asked for it by wearing that dress. She’s an attention whore. She likes being in the spotlight. She can stop being famous any time if she can’t take it. We should see such rationales as ridiculous. We can see it when they’re applied to a nine-year-old. But we don’t see it in general.

    Well. Okay. Feminist pop-culture watchers see how all women are treated in pop culture as outrageous. But we feminists are still a minority. That Onion tweet was not directed at feminists. It was directed at a general readership that probably has not yet internalized that it’s just plain wrong to talk about women like this, but might possibly understand that it’s just plain wrong to talk about a little girl like this. And might possibly start to get an inkling of a clue.”

    Good on Onion for apologizing, even though I may think the above interpretation is valid; any ‘joke’ that you have to explain is by definition a failure. But I’d personally rather that Onion make these attempts and fall flat on their face than to not try at all; I agree with this blogger that the Onion is normally hard on misogyny, and also agree with her that ‘the Onion called Wallis a cunt’ meme is not fully accurate.

  20. says

    Occasionally a comedian will use that word in a joke, and it instantly destroys any enjoyment I was having with their humor. The sheer negativity of the c-word(and n-word) overpowers whatever intent there was to make a point.
    The Onion fucked up. It always wrecks a joke because it is bigger than the joke, not a method in telling one.

  21. And How says

    @Spartan offers an interesting perspective.

    Of course, Hollywood male actors who behave in morally “ojectionable” ways can become the brunt of endless jokes about their reputation as well. Example: Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, et. al. But look at what is considered morally “objectionable” for female actresses compared to men to become the brunt of these kind of jokes.

    This tweet does seem to be a reflection of the enormous double standard that exists in rhetoric towards women compared to men.

    If Maccaulay Culkin were a child star today – can you imagine in a million years anyone tweeting about him –

    “Everyone seems afraid to say it, but that Maccaulay Culkin he is a real dick.” Just wouldn’t happen.

  22. And How says

    Edit leave the quotation marks off “objectionable” referring to Chris Brown and Mel Gibson. These men ARE morally objectionable. My mistake.

  23. brucegee1962 says

    Yes, Quvenzhané wasn’t the target. That does not, however, make it ok. If I pick up a child and hit you over the head with it, I don’t get to say, “I wasn’t trying to hurt the child, I was trying to hurt you!”

  24. says

    Lanir:

    In my experience, the hypersexualized thing for black women would be a reflection of the popular culture some of them appear to be a part of (yeah I know, FLAME ON, but please read a bit further first). Some of the music gets very over the top macho about sex. At one point while working in a warehouse job I was amazed to see a couple black males start up a little boombox with music like that and watch while a handful of black girls working with us would say the lyrics along with the song even as it rambled into some ridiculous and demeaning description of oral sex and ramblingly incoherent misogyny. I understood they weren’t really thinking about what they were saying, it was just a song to them. The words were no more important than “Twinkle, twinkle little star”.

    Oh, those silly, simple-minded black people! They don’t even think about their music, which is uniquely misogynist… unlike the Beatles of the Rolling Stones, known champions of women’s empowerment! Or country music, which never would applaud any such thing as a woman “standing by her man”!

    JFC, how did this condescending, whitesplainy tripe not jump out at anyone else? The atheist community has a long fucking way to go on race as well as on gender.

  25. And How says

    @ Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Clevland Steamers

    I did not take Lanir’s comments as particularly racist. Notice the first two sentences of the very next paragraph.

    Lanir:
    Later I understood this much better when I realized it had nothing really to do with race and everything to do with the sort of culture you see in any area where poverty was common (it wasn’t a great warehouse job – we were all minimum wage temps). The only reason I noticed it when people of another race were involved is because I’d been seeing similar themes in people of my own race (who were also poverty stricken) and discounting it as normal

    I’m pretty certain Lanir is referring to rap music. I have noticed this as well and same trend – rap music being more popular among all races in poor areas compared to its popularity in the suburbs. I hear rap being played by younger people in suburban areas, but not as often and not the really explicit lyrics as much in the suburbs.

    Since suburbs are generally white and therefore not as many whites listen to rap – I think the point being made is that blacks are identified as hypersexualized beyond the cultural norm when viewed as a culture within the culture. I believe Lanir feels this is FALSE and that it should be that peoples living in poverty, regarldess of race, should be the culture within our culture that might be viewed as hypersexualzied beyond the norm.

    Assuming this is the point being made, I agree. Rap music does seem to be more popular in the ghettos.

  26. And How says

    @ Ms. Daisy:

    And I wanted to mention if you are not familiar with rap. Just do an internet search under “dirty rap lyrics”.

    This music is popular among young teens and young people, I guess some older as well. But anyway, I’ve heard a lot more of it in poor areas. The lyrics are very sexually explicit. I would assume it is a characture of what is really going on – but these lyrics do make a statement about cultural sexual attitudes within this context.

  27. says

    And How:

    I did not take Lanir’s comments as particularly racist.

    That last paragraph simply substitutes classism for racism. So poor peepl iz dumm and clueless about music, no matter what their race? That’s rather interesting, considering all the famous performers across many genres who’ve come up from the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. (In fact, one such performer would have turned 81 today. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.) And we still have the dehumanizing references to “males” and the infantilizing reference to “girls.”

    Also, again, rap is hardly the only misogynist music out there. Metal, punk, country, even “classic” rock’n’roll get passes on how they demean women that rap and hip-hop, strangely, do not get among white people. And I’m struck by how you seem to be familiar only with rap and hip-hop featuring obscene lyrics, when much more exists out there.

  28. says

    I saw something on an entertainment type show a few months ago. Women were dancing to something like 2 Live Cru, and the reporter asked a woman why she enjoyed such abusive lyrics to dance to. She replied, “Honey, he ain’t talking about me!”

    I live in THE rough area of this city, and I can tell you, there are different rules. Abuse – rape(both genders), physical violence, and despairing emotional abuse – are the norm of the people here growing up. There is the oppression and violation of treaties and land agreements, and the ghettoization of North American Natives.

    Sexism, objectifying, and lack of respect are natural for many people, and us drug addicts(I’m recoverin 2 years) that still live the lifestyle don’t have the where-with-all to fight sexism and stereotypes and all the politically improper terminology, not when so many are in gangs and/or damaged. You are a p***y if that shit get’s to you(that’s the general attitude a lot, not my view or lifestyle), so get over it.

    You make some good points, And How, and I can see why things don’t change from within in these situations. Edmonton, though, is very progressive in trying to end homelessness, and the empty feelings and lifestyle that crush so many people into just not giving a fuck. That, that is changing.

    It’s all about equality, and basic rights and standards of living, and… education. We do have free health care, that is huge – gigantic.

  29. lanir says

    @And How:

    Rap was part of the story but didn’t seem really worth pointing out specifically. Music of various types is just one way of expressing things of that general attitude. Mostly I was just thinking of what causes people to think it’s okay to spout off things like the Onion tweet. I responded early in the morning and wasn’t as coherent as I should have been for a sensitive topic.

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers:

    I don’t think there’s any very good way to respond to you here so I’ll just keep this simple. “Hypersexualized” is a myth and isn’t true about anyone from any group of people. It comes from all sorts of directions and sometimes people hurt themselves with it. Initially it is easier to notice things like this when you encounter it in the perspective of a culture you’re not used to, but sometimes all you need to do to find it in your own is to simply look for it. I didn’t necessarily explain any of that very well but it was in there. So if you misread that, my bad. If you read it correctly and responded as you did, I’m a bit confused what your goal is. I’m having a hard time recalling any time where I’ve known anyone to be scorned or ridiculed intio being more open minded.

  30. And How says

    @ Ms. Daisy Cutter

    Well, my wife and her female friends affectionately refer to each other as “girls” all the time. They are not infantalzing one another, But I understand “girls” is sometimes used as you suggest.

    I understand your point about misogny in other generes. There could be more misogny in country and early rock since so much of that music is from an earlier era.

    Misogny in rap was not the point I was making. I was referring specifically to the sexually explicit lyrics. I am making the point that one who listens to such music might be assumed to be hypersexual, just as one who listens to gospel music might be assumed to be religous.

    Check out these lyrics and you let me know if Johnny Cash gets close to any of this:

    http://www.spike.com/articles/4wbdnv/the-top-10-dirtiest-rap-songs-of-all-time

    And in fact trends are different in terms of hairstyles, clothing styles, and music among the poor. Why does pointing this out mean someone is implying poor people are “dumb” or clueless about music in your mind?

    Mikmike on post #39 sums up what I see as well. Within poor areas there is a education gap, higher drop out rates, more violence (crime), more hunger, gangs, more child neglect, more drug use, more unemployment, higher teen pregnancy compared to middle class areas.

    I assume a racist or class bigot would assume feel that poor people are inferior and these are the reasons these differences exist. I don’t feel that way at all.

  31. says

    lanir:

    I’m having a hard time recalling any time where I’ve known anyone to be scorned or ridiculed intio being more open minded.

    Maybe you should read Pharyngula more often. Quite a few people have said that blunt talk talked them out of idiotic beliefs. In any case, here’s a link for you.

    And How: The fact that your wife and her friends call themselves “girls” does not matter in this situation. For one thing, people are entitled to call themselves as they wish. For another, “My wife isn’t offended!” isn’t an argument, as many women perpetrate sexism. Finally, a (presumably) white man calling black women “girls” … well, you do know that the word “boy” is grossly inappropriate to call a black man, right?

    There could be more misogny in country and early rock since so much of that music is from an earlier era.

    Uh, no, actually there remains a lot of it right now. Perhaps you’ve overlooked it because the singers didn’t ping your “not one of us” meter.

    I don’t think I’ll be clicking on your link. I don’t get into arguments with other middle-class white people about how terrible rap and hip-hop are, because there are some rather smug assumptions of superiority that underlie their arguments. Then again, and I say this quite honestly rather than as invective, you seem tone-deaf to how middle-class white people can come across when they’re talking about people of other colors or classes.

  32. And How says

    I don’t think I’ll be clicking on your link. I don’t get into arguments with other middle-class white people about how terrible rap and hip-hop are, because there are some rather smug assumptions of superiority that underlie their arguments. Then again, and I say this quite honestly rather than as invective, you seem tone-deaf to how middle-class white people can come across when they’re talking about people of other colors or classes.

    Of course, you aren’t going to click on the link – because you can’t stand the idea of being proven wrong.

    And your statement about being “honest” and disingenous follow up that you are not trying to be insulting isn’t fooling me. You are clearly the quick-to-judge type. You then back up your bullcrap with quote mining, thus misrepresenting and misinterpreting others comments.

    For the second time now, I acknowledge other genres of music have misogynistic themes. That takes nothing away from my point about the sexually graphic lyrics of many, many rap songs. This genre of music is a major culprit in perpetuating sexual objectification of women and it also promotes rape culture.

    I don’t care you consider me smug, superior and insensitive for pointing out the obvious problems with rap music.

    The fact that your wife and her friends call themselves “girls” does not matter in this situation. For one thing, people are entitled to call themselves as they wish. For another, “My wife isn’t offended!” isn’t an argument, as many women perpetrate sexism. Finally, a (presumably) white man calling black women “girls” … well, you do know that the word “boy” is grossly inappropriate to call a black man, right?

    Thanks. I didn’t know it was “grossly inappropriate” to call a black man “boy”. I’ve been living my life under a rock.

    I shared your comments with my wife about her use of the word “girls”. She asked me to pass along this message – She agrees with you that “people are entitled to call people as they wish”. She added – “Also, please let Dorothy know she is not the fucking Word Police and I don’t give a rat’s ass what she thinks”.

    Context matters with words and use of the word “girls” is not inherently bad, in many people’s opinion. If you want to make a big deal about it, go ahead. I said this in my earlier reply as well, but you can’t seem to let it go. Lanir will have to explain whether Lanir was being used to dehumanize women.

    By the way, I know your name is Ms. Dorothy Cutter. Do you care to share the name of that very high horse your condescending, pompous ass rides upon?

  33. And How says

    Someone sounds very, very upset that the values of the bubble they live in aren’t shared by everyone

    .

    Wrong again – Ms. Dorothy, Daisy….whatever you name is.

    To feel “upset”, in this instance, would require that someone I value has made remarks I found to be upsetting. I don’t value your opinion regarding this matter. I am responding to your mischaracterization of my remarks using the same ‘tude you are using with me.

    You don’t know the first thing about the “bubble” in which I live, nor do you know anything about my values…………do you?

    This conversation is not productive, so I’m signing off. I’ll let you have the last word if you wish.

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