Sadness for Parenting

From, by Sabrina James:

( — Last night I sat down to watch the Oscar red carpet with my 6-year-old daughter Kaia.

She played dress-up with her American Girl doll while I followed the commentary on Twitter. “Look, Mommy! Julie’s all ready for the red carpet,” she exclaimed, showing off the updo she created for her doll.

She watched with mild interest until the moment we’d been waiting for arrived: Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis appeared in a frenzy of flashing camera lights with her mom and sister in tow. “Look, Mommy, there she is! Look at her purse! It’s a puppy!” Kaia jumped up and down. “I want one of those!”…

Instead, last night, on her special night, she was subjected to the most distasteful showing of adult “humor” I have ever seen. It started with a “joke” by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane about how it will be “sixteen years before she’s too old” for George Clooney, but sadly it didn’t stop there. The popular satire site The Onion tweeted the following to its more than 4 million followers during the show last night…

Many online have tried to make this a race issue. Saying she was singled out because she’s a young black girl. I hope that’s not the case. To me, this has less to do with race and everything to do with the fact that we have stopped respecting the innocence of our children. We’ve become so desensitized by the “Toddlers and Tiaras” culture that we take hurtful aim at those who epitomize childhood as much as the fluffy puppy purses they carry on the red carpet….

I wish the headlines today were different. I wish we lived in a world where Quvenzhané could wake up this morning and search the internet with her mama to find herself on our best-dressed lists. To see celebrities like Oprah and Beyoncé, her biggest fans, rave about her.

Instead her family must hide the horrible truth from her — the truth that our media took a cheap shot at someone too small to stand up for herself or to even know what the word she was called means.


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  • Jim

    Absolutely! Shame on The Onion. However, to think you could watch anything hosted by Seth McFarlane in L.A and amidst the glitterati with a 6 year old not being subjected to something offensive is a bit..well…’optimistic.’

  • Joe Canner

    I agree that the Onion tweet was in extremely bad taste. The George Clooney joke, on the other hand, was entirely about Clooney’s propensity for dating younger women and had nothing to do with Quvenzhané.

    This incident does, however, raise an interesting question. Until what age are child actors immune from media criticism? I myself thought that Quvenzhané was a bit full of herself (although probably no more than the average 9-year-old). If the Onion or any other news outlet had figured out how to make that point without being vulgar would that have been appropriate? I think there is some responsibility on the part of the actor’s parents to shield the child from the media. Granted, no one deserves what the Onion did, but if a parent allows their child to be in the media spotlight, they need to be prepared for at least some degree of criticism as well as praise.

    As for the viewing public…the Oscar show was rated TV-14 (DLV), so, as with Jim in #1, I don’t have much sympathy for those whose young children were traumatized by the offensive humor.

  • Steven

    Why watch the Oscars to begin with? Why have your kid watch it? Hollywood has no resonsibility but to make money by giving people what they are willing to pay for.

  • Bob

    Sorry you and your daughter had to have that experience; explains why I don’t watch much in the way of television anymore. I come to your website!

  • TJJ

    Agree totally! When did it become ok to talk about children this way? It is a sick, disgusting and shameful development in out culture.