Earlier today, the satirical news outlet The Onion, last seen calling 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis a cunt, tweeted the following two tweets about Chris Brown's and Rihanna's recent break-up:
Jess, who gave me the heads-up on this, breaks it down: "I *get* that @TheOnion is trying to poke fun at Chris Brown. But Rihanna is your collateral damage, assholes."
As does Grace, who writes: "Waiting for someone to explain how an article about a real living black woman being beaten to death is 'satire.' I know it'll happen." And: "Beyond disgusted. Hack comedians and media flacks committed to making sure Rihanna is mocked for being a survivor for the rest of her life."
The tweets themselves are contemptible enough all on their own, but they pitch a piece published at The Onion (to which I will not provide a link, but here is a screencap), which expands on the premise in reprehensible detail:
LOS ANGELES—After revealing yesterday that he had recently split up with longtime girlfriend Rihanna, a heartbroken Chris Brown tearfully told reporters that he always thought the 25-year-old singer was going to be the woman he'd beat to death one day. "Despite all the ups and downs, I was so sure Rihanna was the one I'd take by the throat one day and fatally assault, and even toward the end I continued to hold out hope that we'd be together until the day she died at my hands from blunt-force trauma," Brown, 24, said in a radio interview this week, telling DJs he still has abusive feelings for his ex-flame and is hopeful that he might punch her again one day. "It's hard knowing that there's some other guy out there who gets to beat her senseless. In fact, for all I know, there might be someone out there assaulting her right now. And let me tell you, that guy is the luckiest guy in the world." A saddened Brown added that, should the couple not reconcile, he remains confident that the special someone he was meant to beat to death is still out there for him, and when he finds her, he'll waste no time in slapping her around.Oh my aching sides.
I am not failing to find the "humor" in this garbage because I don't "get" the joke. I get it. I get the play on "the one that got away" narratives (which, as a not-incidental aside, are themselves frequently markers of unhealthy relationship dynamics). I get that Brown is the intended target because he's a fuckhead abuser. I'm not too unsophisticated to get it, and I don't lack a sense of humor.
I just don't find jokes about beating a black woman to death funny. I don't find jokes about beating anyone to death funny, particularly people from marginalized populations who leave them disproportionately likely to be victimized by violence (and less likely to find justice). I especially don't find funny jokes about a real man and a real woman, the former of whom has actually violently abused the latter.
Cue the accusations of oversensitivity. Bring them on. If not laughing at the image of Rihanna being beaten to death makes me oversensitive, I'll happily wear the label.
It doesn't change the truth. I'm not oversensitive. The Onion isn't sensitive enough.