People magazine retracts ‘stupid & insensitive’ Viola Davis tweet

Actress Viola Davis, center, stars in the new ABC show "How to Get Away With Murder."
(Nicole Rivelli / Associated Press)

The editors at People magazine might be vetting their Twitter feed a little more carefully after a Viola Davis tweet Thursday night touched off an uproar.

The magazine apologized after sending out a live tweet during the premiere telecast of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” which stars Davis.

“Waiting for Viola to break into ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important,’” the original message from @peoplemag joked.

The quote was an allusion to the 2011 feature film “The Help,” in which Davis played a maid in the South in the early 1960s.


Many Twitter users found the tweet offensive, among them Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty): “viola will always be a maid to some people, and that’s extremely unfortunate.”

The website Jezebel alluded to an earlier questionable tweet about ABC’s “Scandal” and wrote: “Something is going on with People magazine’s Twitter tonight and it’s not pretty.”

People magazine quickly deleted the Davis tweet and wrote another message: “Apologies for the earlier tweet ... it was stupid & insensitive. Won’t happen again.”

Of course, in the online world, deleting a message only repairs a limited amount of damage, because users have the ability to save and endlessly replicate the original post. Which does tend to cast the whole “live tweeting” business in a sobering light. Tread carefully out there!

What do you think of the People magazine tweet and reaction?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT