Last week, Gawker posted a job listing seeking applicants for a reporter position. Among the responses was a letter from Hjalmar Sveinbjőrnsson and Alex Bejerstrand, two under-employed roommates living in Nybro, Sweden. In addition to inquiring after work, Hjalmar and Alex provided samples of their artwork and requested several photos of the Gawker offices. We supplied them with the requested photos and encouraged them to pitch us ideas. Below is their response. Below that is an email from me to Hjalmar and Alex laying out their first assignment: A post assessing the controversy over the Onion's "cunt" tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis. We have reproduced Hjalmar and Alex's email without correcting grammar or punctuation.
Good day or morning John Cook
did you ever get teased in school over your name ?
sry had to ask but we have read your response and viewed your picture´s with great though and care that you answered us
we are honored in many ways
now just to the pictures because as I read this an my partner reviewed it !
Tom Scocca looks like someone famous, but maybe because you guys are from America and I mostly just see you in movies and one and one over-sea's student, he looks questioning but comforting some how, thank you Mr Scocca
Mr Scocca also sounds Italian
As a un-employed chef BUT still keeping up daily constant professionalism I found it clean, a lot of ice that is good but it looks like you live mostly on diet off soup and soupy stuff, the milk on the top, the one marked Silk ... we have a laundry detergent that is called that in Sweden but we both have lactose intolerance so Silk would do the same in both countries, we can have that in common if you also have L I, my action partner complains about not seeing the side of the door, a lot of stuff there also to eat or put on food, like mustard
Do you guys have any guys with beards working for you?, we noticed no one there has a beard, my action partner finds it disturbing so that is another bonus to hire him also, he is my spiritual animal, I write it off as a health think now that you have enter the 21 century and gotten "free health" care, hoary for you
the rug is badly treteded, far to many furniture on it, you should let your rug run free. man.
now to the serious part of this email
A) writing for you in an formal or informal way sounds like lawyer talk, I just image you with like 2-3 lawyers behind you
I need a clearer information about that preferable through email, we would love jobs and never though I be offered one of those magical "over the internet" jobs but I am willing and so is my friend to find free time for some "serious in-definition" journalism if not and its just about filling reader space then we can both be glad we had a laugh over this but other vice "winking smiley face"
B) making c) d) and e) is not fun so gone write the rest under B)
we were thinking about our first assignment and the fact people can actually survive my writing style and wording (cant figure out how to spell fraicing?)
First is recapping of the 3 season of Girls is highly possible, first we need to rent the DVD but we send you the recite I never seen a single episode of Girls but I guess its about girls, I am trying to not use the word "homo" but I dont have a large enough dictionary to be non-offensive, but of us never watches TV, we are not sporty people though, we just have other means to comfort ourself
and we can go over Girls season 3 as I think off my self as a expert in watching shows, cartoons and anime
We are gone enter it from the fact its about girls so we are gone try to look at it from a feminine side, you want that like 1-2 pages? maybe 3 I am gone figure out who is the sexist, me or the women
Do we have any favorite black metal bands ... are you talking about wrist bands? because I dont like your tone of speech, you think all of us here in Sweden, Norway, Iceland listen to death metal all the time ?
I was in like one or two death metal bands and my flatmate has made a death metal video or 2, I dont have any stuff from my death metal years but my drummer got everyone and I mean EVERYONE to call him Cactus for all the years I knew him, pretty sure he changed his name but my action partner has a video for you guys other vice we are not into death metal or metal by Nordic scale
So ... we need something else, do journalist normally bring in there own stories or do you guys like email them?, maybe we could pick them from comments or something, I dont know, I dont want to force my self to think about something but I know I can go on and on about it
what about we write about American pop culture's and TV shows ? or Gawker readers ask us to go on quests and missions in Nordia (Our secret name for the Nordic countries, dont tell anyone)
You can post this email on gawker or whatever its okey but if you are actually looking offering me to write for you then send me an email
I have free time
No funny lines about pot smoking?, all burned out after a season and just eating cookies so "no go"
But after googling the show girls we found out that the 3 season is not out yet and we are eager for work so what were you actually suggesting, straining some funny emails from weirdos in Sweden? we need real stuff for real people, we are so pumped over here
But thanks for a interesting twist to my daily life
Hjalmar and Alex
Looking forward to maybe hearing from you
Alex and Hjalmar
Dear Hjalmar and Alex:
Thanks for getting back so quickly. Yes, I did get teased about my name in school. People would say things like, "Hey, cook me dinner," and "Hey, cookie, I'm going to kick your ass." My nickname in school, based on the initials of my first and middle name, was "J.J.", so I also got a lot of "J.J. Jackass" and "Jackass Jerkface."
Let's cut to the chase: The Girls recommendation was kind of a joke. We've gotten some criticism in the past for our treatment of that show and it's creator, Lena Dunham, so we thought it would be funny to raise the idea of you guys recapping it in your voice. But you're right, Season 3 is a year off so let's come up with something you can do right now.
Here's a tryout: The Oscars were last night. It's a big movie award show here in the states. You know about it I'm sure. Did you watch? One of the Best Supporting Actress nominees was Quvenzhané Wallis, an adorable 9-year-old girl who starred in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Wallis is precocious and basically universally beloved; she showed up at the ceremony carrying a purse made out of a cute stuffed animal and everyone swooned.
Last night the Onion, a satirical newspaper here in the states, wrote this joke on Twitter: "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013." That upset a lot of people. "Cunt" is regarded as a really intense insult in the U.S.; it's seen as automatically and radioactively misogynistic. The point of the Onion joke was clearly that it's comically absurd to apply a word like that to such an adorable creature, and that—given the universal admiration for Wallis—it takes an amusingly cruel and inhumane asshole to regard himself as the only one with the courage to malign a 9-year-old girl. In other words, for the purposes of the tweet, the Onion adopted the character of a hateful misanthrope—something it has repeatedly done throughout its 25-year history—for comic purposes.
A lot of people got very upset, very quickly. Using Twitter, they castigated the Onion, interpreting the tweet as actually calling Wallis a cunt. The Onion took the tweet down within the hour, and this morning issued an unreserved apology, calling it a "senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire." The writer or writers responsible are being disciplined.
That hasn't stopped people from continuing to express outrage over the joke, which is being called racist and sexist.
What do you think? Do you think it was funny to begin with? Do you think it should have been taken down? Do you think people are missing the point, or taking themselves too seriously? What do you think of the role Twitter played in fomenting the controversy? How would a joke like this go over in Sweden, or Iceland? Do people tell jokes there?
Why don't you guys write that up—a post on the Onion/Quvenzhané Wallis controversy and what you think about it—and we'll go from there. Don't be afraid to express your opinion(s) forcefully. Make them pointy. We'll pay you $100 if we publish it. If we like it, we'll come up with some assignments that get you out and about on the streets of Nybro.
I'm not sure what time or day it is where you are, but if you want to do this, please try to do it quickly.