I read what I consider Scott Mendelson’s piece de resistance on the matter of child star Quvenzhane Wallis and her being called a certain vulgar word and had only one reaction:
“Oh no this white man didn’t.”
The back-story, for those of you that haven’t heard, which means you’ve probably chosen not to depress yourselves by listening to the news (perfectly understandable, believe me).
There was Quvenzhane at the Academy Awards ceremony, with her cute little 9-year-old self, enjoying the show. She was nominated for best actress in a leading role for her performance in the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
The show was winding down when someone associated with the so-called satirical website, The Onion sent the following tweet:
“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a ****, right?”
The four-letter word replaced by asterisks is one so despicable that I didn’t use any of the letters. It’s a disgusting vulgarity commonly used to denigrate a woman or women. When used to describe a 9-year-old girl, it goes well beyond disgusting and descends to the level of the sickening and infuriating.
But Mendelson is one of the people that has defended the tweet as a valid form of satire. He wrote a column for The Huffington Post with the title “Funny or Not, The Onion’s Quvenzhane Wallis Tweet Was Effective Satire That Reflected Back At Us.”
Mendelson has some lessons to learn about satire. The first is this: if it isn’t funny, it isn’t effective, and it sure as heck isn’t satire.
But the tweet about Quvenzhane must have left Mendelson cackling hysterically. When he stopped guffawing, he must have written his piece, in which he delivered this salvo:
“Those decrying the fact that Wallis is a 9-year-old African American child only open themselves up to the fact that it would apparently be OK to call her a **** if she were a 21-year-old white lady.”
Those that have brought up the race issue think no such thing. What they’re saying is that had Quvenzhane been a 9-year-old white actress, not a “21-year-old white lady,” the tweet never would have been sent.
Mendelson clearly has no clue about the history of black Americans being stereotyped, marginalized and degraded. Notice his first reflex was to rush to the defense of the 21-year-old white lady, not 9-year-old (and black) Quvenzhane.
All Mendelson did was open himself up to this charge: when it comes to feminism, it’s white women first, so-called women of color second, and little black girls don’t figure into the equation at all.
Mendelson is indeed a feminist; part of his defense of the tweet derived from his feminist philosophy that women – especially the white ones – are so marginalized and degraded that in essence we call them that word used to describe Quvenzhane all the time.
“Oh, we’re fancier about it and we use nicer language,” Mendelson wrote. Then he gave his examples.
1. Anne Hathaway, “when we complain that Anne Hathaway just annoys us for no good reason, or that she earns our ire because she’s just too damn energetic or just wants ‘it’ too badly.”
2. Michelle Obama, when we complain about her bangs and/or bare arms.
3. Angelina Jolie, for ignoring her humanitarian work and regarding her as “that b***h who stole Jennifer Anniston’s man.”
So all these examples are the equivalent of being called the dreaded “c” word? Mendelson has a moral equivalence dilemma that descends into the realm of the downright weird.
Some character named Jack Moore sent a tweet for Buzzfeed in which he called Anne Hathaway the very word used to describe Quvenzhane. Instead of dredging up all these piddling examples of women being called what he thinks is the equivalent of the “c” word, Mendelson could have used his column to take Moore to task.
But he passed. He did Hathaway no darned good; he advanced the cause of feminism not one iota and left readers with the sneaking suspicion that he doesn’t have a clue about what satire is.
Mendelson flunked on his knowledge of what it means to be black in America as well. Somebody had better urge this guy to enroll in a black history course at the college closest to him.