Update 10/4: An apology.
Update: Oh, criminey. The government of the Philippines is getting involved. Like they don’t have better things to worry about.
I am getting a lot of e-mail from people I’ve never heard from before about an apparent ethnic joke about Filipino medical professionals on the shlocky ABC show, “Desperate Houswives.” There’s even a petition about it:
To the producers of “Desperate Housewives” and ABC:
We are writing to express concern and hurt about a racially-discriminatory comment made in an episode of Desperate Housewives on 9/30/07. In a scene in which Susan was told by her gynecologist that she might be hitting menopause, she replied, “Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines.”
As members and allies of the Filipino American community, we are writing to inform know that this type of derogatory remark was discriminatory and hurtful, and such a comment was not necessary to maintain any humor in the show. Additionally, a statement that devalues Filipinos in healthcare is extremely unfounded, considering the overwhelming presence of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the medical field. Filipinos are the second largest immigrant population in the United States, with many entering the U.S. (and successfully passing their U.S. licensing boards!) as doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. In fact, the Philippines produces more U.S. nurses than any other country in the world. So, to belittle the education, experience, or value of Filipino Americans in health care is extremely disrespectful and plain and simply ignorant. Many of the hospitals in major metropolitan areas of the U.S. (and the world) would not be able to operate without its Filipino and Filipino American staff members.
As Filipino Americans and allies, we band together to ensure that this type of hateful message should not be allowed to continue on our television and radio airwaves. Given the recent amounts of media attention that has been given to Michael Richards (against African Americans), Isaiah Washington (against gays), and Rosie O’Donnell (against Asian/ Chinese Americans), it is ridiculous that this type of hateful speech made it through various screenwriters, the show’s producers, the show’s actors, and ABC itself.
We demand a public apology to the Filipino American community, and we demand the episode be edited to remove the ignorant and racist remark. We will not allow hateful messages against our community (or any other oppressed community) to continue.
Filipino blog round-up here.
There are a couple of interesting things about this story.
One: It raises the question of the Aggrieve-o-Meter. Some ethnic and racial groups are higher rated than others. It’s apparently politically correct in Hollyweird to deride the credientials of all Filipino doctors. But not other groups.
Unfair? Yes. Rotten double standards? Yes.
But instead of assimilating into the victim culture, it might be more effective for Filipinos to take a pass on the Jesse Jackson playbook and respond in a novel way.
Say, with humor:
Filipino doctors and nurses could stage a mock “Day Without a Filipino Medical School Graduate.”
Or charge patients who watch “Desperate Housewives” extra.
Or hound Eva Longoria at public appearances, picketing in their hospital gowns, shouting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Desperate Housewives have got to go” while running a booth administering free anti-Hollywood vaccine shots.
Or do a Jericho-style protest and inundate the producers with copies of your med school diplomas, awards, and commendations.
Two: Can you imagine the uproar if the Desperate Housewives ever dared to make derogatory comments about illegal aliens? Imagine if they incorporated a criminal illegal alien into the plot line. Imagine the demands from MALDEF and LULAC for sensitivity training and open-borders rehab. Imagine.
Three: I find some of the e-mail I’m getting to be laced with hypocritical ethnic entitlement. Some Filipinos have seen fit to dismiss my ethnic heritage entirely and consider me “white” because of my politics and past criticism of the Philippines’ reckless decision to pay ransom for hostages taken by jihadis.
Now, after a stupid TV show insults Filipinos, they expect me to jump on the protest bandwagon with them automatically in ethnic solidarity.
Question: Where were you when far worse Filipino insults were being leveled? Just wondering.
Four: The character that uttered the insult is played by Teri Hatcher. Seems to me she must have had a bad experience with one or a few incompetent doctors and is taking it out on an entire class. I mean, just look:
Take that up with your plastic surgeon, lady. No need to attack every last Filipino medical professional. Sheesh.
Five: Last point about double standards. Imagine one of the shrewish housewives making a crack on the show about the competence and security risk of Muslim doctors.
Update: Pinoymoneytalk has the YouTube clip…
Pinoymoneytalk points out that Filipinos themselves make fun of shady schools and tells his countryment to lighten up:
Had the line been mentioned matter-of-factly in a news or documentary program, our protest would have been valid. But lest we forget, Desperate Housewives is a dramedy — a drama AND a comedy. Everything said there should not be taken seriously. For one, Susan Mayer was definitely in character — insensitive, arrogant, and stupid — when she delivered the line…
…It’s time we quit having double standards. It’s also time we improve the quality of education in our schools. But please, mob, it’s not time to call for another boycott.
Bryan Preston weighs in:
Now, I’m sure it’s easy to find some fault with what I’m about to say, but aren’t professionally trained people who supply skills that we’re currently short of, and who will respect our immigration laws and processes, exactly the sort of immigrants that all Americans (other than lame Hollywood comedy writers) would welcome with open arms? I would think so. So why insult them with a cheap shot? Because the DH writers were lazy and figured Jesse and Al would give it a pass.
While we’re on the subject of celebrity insults, what a bunch of undignified buffoon-ettes “The View” women are. Joking about “doing” Nancy Pelosi’s husband and the House Speaker herself. What an abject embarrassment to the entertainment business, to journalism (Barbara, I’m talking to you), and to their gender. Good grief. For once, I felt very, very sorry for Nancy Pelosi: