hoy*, it's not that serious...
weighing in on desperate housewives' filipino faux pas
by alex b
"Can I just check those diplomas? Because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines."
- Susan Meyer, "Desperate Housewives"
When Teri Hatcher said her line to the still-hot-from-"Firefly" Nathan Fillion during the season premiere episode of "Desperate Housewives", I immediately saw its origin: a 2006 nurses' exam scandal in the Philippines, one that involved leaked exam questions and board member bribery. I never expected Susan Meyer and Dr. Mal Reynolds to ever joke about that slightly dodgy happening, or to even know about my specific ethnic culture. But, they did.
A few million folks with my DNA didn't.
Immediately after the show aired, Filipinos in the US and Asia mobilized to protest without any of our trademark tardiness. Filipino-American groups urged a boycott of Disney and ABC while overseas Filipino news outlets churned out a Storm Signal Four typhoon's worth of angry, insulted editorials. ABC apologized, but all of my generally happy-go-lucky people didn't accept it; a group of Filipino-American doctors are planning a class-action suit against ABC, while others call for organization and marches to Washington D.C.
I gaped; my fellow Filipinos are angry, upset, and outraged. Just as they once stormed Malacañang Palace, they're banding together against Wisteria Lane. Where they once ousted Imelda Marcos, they're uniting against... Teri Hatcher. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Or, as my parents put it, "'Susmaryosep."
Now, as a huge chunk of my fellow Filipinos mobilize to march after the ladies of Wisteria Lane (and possibly to Bree's fridge), I still don't think Teri Hatcher delivered a racist sucker punch. "Desperate Housewives" rips every racial demographic with dark, biting humor; an illegal immigrant Chinese maid was one of its previous characters, and the show continues to send up resident Latinos Gaby and Carlos with hot-blooded and generally caliente jokes. Hell, "Desperate Housewives" always makes fun of whiter-than-white suburbian neurosis. On Wisteria Lane, just like Sesame-Street-on-speed Avenue Q, everyone's a little bit racist. Nobody's safe from a few cheerful pinches of ethnic snark.
However, the protesting factions of my community don't seem to understand the inherently satirical spirit "Desperate Housewives" embodies. Instead, my people look like they're determined to bash Bad Racist Hollywood with propagandic, Les Miserables-esque calls for nationality, solidarity, and other big words. As my community continues to make a whole lot of ado out of ethnic sensitivity, I marvel at how forcefully they keep fanning anti-ABC flames, and think they're directing People Power protests down a pothole.
I mean, really—Susan Meyer was just worried about Dr. Mal checking out her Third World region.
Still, even as I roll my eyes and refuse to sign anti-ABC online petitions, I understand why my community feels insulted. I'm not completely insensitive to their sense of racial slight; in recent years, I've winced at cultural cracks from the entire entertainment world.
Joan Rivers calling us "dog eaters?" Thanks. If I ever starve, her pooch is fair game for my dinner.
Howard Stern referring to Filipina women as "mail-brides" on his show? Crap, is that all the asshole knows about us?
Claire Danes calling poverty-stricken and ill Filipinos "deformed"? Jee-zus. She so-called apologized, but I still boycott the bitch.
So, I can see why "Desperate Housewives" ruffled my fellow Filipino medical practicioners enough to provoke a class-action lawsuit and many, many impassioned, long-winded editorials. I can even understand how factors like belonging to a previous generation and conservative Catholic cultural references add to our proverbial adobo pots boiling over.
But, I wish my community would just get over it.
Unlike questionably tasteful sound bites or downright dumb interview remarks, "Desperate Housewives" is a satirical TV show. I understand my culture's insulted reaction, but dramatic, racially defensive huffing and puffing about a soap opera's style won't create solutions for Filipinos desperate enough to cheat on medical exams. Boycotting Wisteria Lane isn't going to feed a poor family, and continuing to bitch about it is just going to give us a reputation for crying over skinned knees more than our own broken bones.
I likewise wish my outraged, pissed off people could also understand that art reflects life's beauty and seaminess. Much as I hate "mail-bride" cracks, green-card marriages are as common as two-minute drunken Vegas quickies with Elvis presiding. Though I avoid anything Claire Danes breathes in, I despise Imelda Marcos more—that one bankrupted the whole country for shoes and Tiffany-crafted diamond rosaries, but still enjoys a wealthy standard of living. Just as I think the Anti-Teri Hatcher movement is useless and misguided, I hate its deeper origins more.
Whether I or any other Filipino likes it or not, "Desperate Housewives" made a stilletto-sharp point about our issues.
Thus, I won't join the rest of my cultural community in protesting "Desperate Housewives". I'm not interested in tearing down Wisteria Lane, and love Nicolette Sheridan's token hoebag Edie for the same reasons I dug Alexis on "Dynasty" and Eliza Dushku's Faith. Call me a racially disloyal or pedestrian devotee of slutty, trampy, and occasionally hair-pulling humor, but I dig Wisteria Lane.
Plus, I'm not going to knock the entire entertainment industry because it has actually validated my culture aside from knocking it—and everybody else's—here and there. Hollywood's a perpetually screwy, screwing universe, but it still permitted Rob Schneider to put his little Filipina mom in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and cinematically commemorated one of my favorite Filipino desserts, bibingka. A racially diverse audience enjoys the Black Eyed Peas song "Bebot", which contains Filipino rhymes; my blonde, Italian friend Jen always praises it when she asks what the lyrics mean. So, the entertainment industry ain't that bad as a whole.
Oh, and Star Wars digs Flips; in two scenes of Return of the Jedi, Ewoks speak in Tagalog. Badass.
So, I'm going to keep laughing.
Hopefully, my protesting people can too.
*Hoy- Filipino exclamatory greeting used in the same manner of "hey." Favorite examples of colloquial use:
1. "Hoy, don't eat my Spam."
2. "Hoy, don't ass-kiss Imelda Marcos."
3. "Hoy, they're real."
An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.
ABOUT ALEX B
more about alex b
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
10.15.07 @ 3:50p
mmm...Nathan Fillion. And he's Canadian! Sweet!
10.15.07 @ 4:04p
You have a blonde friend named Jen?
10.15.07 @ 4:20p
every fifth woman is named Jen in some fashion up here in Canada. Someone once made a joke that it's because, when they're born, people say 'who cares, it's just another girl'!
OMG! someone go tell the Jen's Of the World to UNITE!
10.15.07 @ 7:15p
Wumman, Nathan Fillion is my Modern Han. Mal = Hot.
Heh, Kraemer, you know my HOT friend Jen.
10.15.07 @ 9:43p
Lex, I must say I'm very disappointed in and angered by this article. Please don't pretend to know about MY community or tell MY community how to feel about this issue. And just so we're clear, when I say MY community, I mean the community of doctors who graduated from Philippine medical schools and are now practicing here in the US.
I guess you found it funny because it wasn't your competence being undermined or the quality of your medical education being made fun of. I know that Desperate Housewives is satirical. You seem to think that this means carte blanche to say anything or that something "satirical" should not be taken seriously. A satire is actually supposed to expose or discredit folly or vice through wit or sarcasm. (Look it up.) Where was the wit in that stupid line? And more importantly, where was the friggin folly or vice that it was supposed to discredit?!!! That white suburban America does not know much about educational systems outside of their perfect white picket fences? I wish! Instead, it was about white suburban housewives afraid of aging and menopause. A satire is a serious issue that is veiled in comedy. That was NOT satirical. It was a cheap laugh.
Next point, “there are many other problems in the Philippines why get mad about this blah, blah, blah.” Yes, there are a myriad of problems in the Philippines. Yes, there is poverty and corruption. Why would this make an ignorant, unfunny line that perpetuates the belief that “third world” education is not as good as education here acceptable? I am proud to be a product of a Philippine medical school. My work ethic, my resourcefulness, my knowledge is a result of my medical education back home. Nobody gets to put it down, especially people who do not know the first thing about education in the Philippines. We are a small country, and yes, we are poor when you’re thinking in GDP or economics, but we are rich in culture and proud of our heritage.
When somebody says that she is one of us but does not see the wrongfulness in putting down our people in the eyes of others for laughs, that just makes my blood boil. The truth is you really are not one of us. You grew up here and see yourself as American. You get mad when people ask you where you’re from because they assume that you’re not from here. I do not get angry when I’m asked where I’m from. I’m proud to say that I’m Filipino and I come from a beautiful country in the southeast where the people give away smiles like there’s no tomorrow. Where people sacrifice much to be able to feed their families or send their brothers and sisters to school. Where there are excellent schools that produce exemplary graduates. Where you got this idea that medical graduates (I’m not referring to the nursing debacle) cheated on their exams, I do not know. This is grossly untrue so please correct that.
Lastly, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Just look at the things that you wrote
10.15.07 @ 10:06p
Tsiki, as you've taken the time to write quite a few comments, I'd like to dignify them by addressing them. Especially since I know you AND Regina personally.
You're literally correct in that I don't know how YOUR community of doctors feels. I'm not a product of medical school. But, as a Filipino, I can understand how you feel. I just don't empathize with it, nor do I agree with it.
I don't believe "Desperate Housewives" personally undermined YOUR competence because it didn't fry YOU on the show. Yes, the show zapped medical schools in the Philippines. Yes, the show alluded to how generally fraudulent it is in the country- which is why I laughed and YOU'RE here practicing medicine in the US and not over there.
Now, perhaps you believe it best to bitchslap my own competence as a writer by splitting hairs in the use of satire. Perhaps you believe I am a racially disloyal member of the tribe, or just plain callous (take your pick). I am what I am in your opinion, and I can't change what you think of me personally.
Thing is, I believe we are making a big deal out of nothing when there are bigger deals to make out of bigger things that still exist. Yell at me all you want for writing this article. But LOOK AT WHY YOU LIVE HERE.
When you were able to make it here on the basis of your Third World education, does a joke from a TV show piss on your achievements? NO.
Is it going to change whether you still have a job? NO.
Is it going to affect whether or not you still have a good reputation in the eyes of your patients? If it does, then congratulations- your patient's an ignorant bigot, and probably was before "Desperate Housewives" ever existed.
I'm sorry to see my words affected you personally- along with the show. That said, I don't believe the doctors of my ethnicity are lousy medical practitioners. I just think some of OUR community- and evidently you- need to laugh. Without that ability, you're gonna have to worry about words breaking your bones more than sticks and stones ever can.
10.15.07 @ 10:26p
"That white suburban America does not know much about educational systems outside of their perfect white picket fences? I wish! Instead, it was about white suburban housewives afraid of aging and menopause. "
Careful with that paintbrush, sister, as it is pretty wide.
"White Suburban America" didn't write that slur on Desperate Housewives - a bunch of trumped-up wannabe Spielbergs wrote that slur. They probably won't go much further with their careers than penning stuff for the "Who Wants to Be the New Elvira" reality show.
And consider the source: do you really think people that matter are taking that kind of backhanded comment seriously...from a soap opera? A pretty tacky soap at that?
Meanwhile, 60 Minutes recently did a pretty in-depth expose' on the massive rush-rush expansion of Dubai and how the majority of the construction workers make $30 a DAY, live in sordid conditions...
...and come from Malaysia, Guam and the Phillipines.
Wouldn't the time and energy spent dredging up a lawsuit that innocent taxpayers will have to compensate DOCTORS for be better spent advocating for better working conditions for the construction people?
Just a few thoughts from the real white suburbia.
On a related "when is it okay to pick on other races during a comedic performance" department: this weekend, we rented the "Axis of Evil" tour, featuring four Middle Eastern comics. Not bad overall. Some of their profiling comments were, unfortunately, sad but true, and they made them funny.
But one Palestinian comic said something slightly derogatory about Jews, and the audience laughed. Then he said, "Are there any Jews in the house?"
Why is THAT not anti-Semitic?
ETA:Nathan Fillion. Puuurrrr, kitty.
michelle von euw
10.15.07 @ 10:43p
Alex, amazing column. Thank you for pointing out the distinction between reality and fiction. That is what's really troubling and disheartening to me -- it's one this to mobilize against Claire Danes and her stupidity, but to do so against a line on a television show? Particularly one like Desperate Housewives, a show that takes *nothing* seriously? Before people get offended, I recommend viewing the slight within context. I think it came right before the faked pregnancy, and right after the "I'm going to blackmail you into marrying me" bit.
10.15.07 @ 10:51p
Or, as my parents put it, "'Susmaryosep."
This might be the funniest single line that I've ever read on this fine website.
Keeping a sense of humor, or at worst an ironic self-hatred as the case may be, about one's ethnic heritage is the secret of success in this fine country.
Let's all just keep in mind that our own forebears are at least as big of assholes as the people who supposedly oppress us.
But why, in this day and age, do we keep walking, like true sheep, into the pens they've assigned us to?
IT'S TIME TO BREAK OUT!!!!!!
10.15.07 @ 11:03p
to tracey kelley, i wrote that as an example of a satire and in reference to a line in lex's column that said "whiter-than-white suburbian neurosis." i apologize if that came out as a generalization about caucasians in suburbia. you're right it was written by a writer. the truth is, i do respect people wherever they may come from. i do not think ethnic jokes are funny in general no matter who the "butt" of the joke is.
10.15.07 @ 11:39p
Excellent column, Alex. This was the first I've heard of the issue (having much better things to do with my time than to watch yet another drama about the rich, infamous, and morally bankrupt fictional denizens of California).
10.15.07 @ 11:41p
Tracey, my Jewish friend David told me the following joke:
Moyshe and Abel are leaving a club. They notice they're being followed down a dark alley by a gang of menacing-looking thugs. Moyshe notices them and goes, "Abel, Abel, I think we're gonna get robbed." Abel sees it, then says: "You're right. Here's the $100 I owe you."
I think it's perfectly all right to laugh at your own ethnicity's foibles. Not only because there's just so much that's ripe for picking, but if you didn't, you would spend more time than necessary crying your eyes out.
And besides, Nathan Fillion. Yum Yum, Gimme Some.
10.15.07 @ 11:54p
I am prejudiced. I admit it. I don't care where the doctor graduated; the Philippines, Caribbean, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, etc.... After recent events in my life I don't trust any doctors. I want two or three opinions, I refuse to take their advice, and honestly think all they care about is insurance money or money in general.
I don't trust them, as a group. I know one doctor I sort of trust, but not 100%.
I guess I'm out of touch with the medical school scandals. I would've thought Caribbean medical schools (like Grenada) had the reputation of being less competent. In fact, I remember a comment like that on St. Elsewhere, a couple comments during the run of the show, about less competent medical schools. Those comments were made by characters who were doctors.
This isn't new, just a different group being maligned.
10.15.07 @ 11:57p
Tracey, I am constantly surprised by what whiter-than-white America knows about my funny little island people. Most of the time, it's me who teaches folks things about my culture, or asking questions about their cultures in turn, but sometimes, they know more than I do about my own culture. (See below for an anecdote I neglected to mention earlier).
Michelle- thanks for pointing out that I have, in fact, made a distinction between reality and fiction. I rolled my eyes at both Joan Rivers and Howard Stern, but that's what they do as entertainers- rip everyone, including themselves. Where I drew a line was Claire Danes's interview comments, which I thought were pretty fucking thoughtless, given how the Westin Philippine Plaza's hotel staff looked out for her every fucking need while she made "Brokedown Palace."
Lisa- thanks for the props. I was just damn surprised to learn of the scandal when I googled "Desperate Housewives". I literally didn't know what to do except gape for a good 15 minutes as I waded through all the angry, propagandic editorials calling to maul Teri Hatcher. I'm still floored this is happening, really.
Robert- I get leery of doctors too, no matter where they graduated. When all is said and done, I just hope they know where to put those really scary-lookin' (and occasionally frickin' cold) instruments.
And Dan- my parents say "Susmaryosep" all the time. The last time I heard it was when they noticed my hair was Nuclear Red- at 31.
10.16.07 @ 12:16a
Alex, I have some very good friends who are Filipino. They're very smart, highly educated, and I feel blessed to have them in my life. I also highly doubt that they paid any attention to the comment in "DH" at all, if they even watched the show. They, too, have better things to do with their time than watch the latest "Falcon Crest / Melrose Place" hybrid.
Thank heavens for Food Network. The most offensive thing they come up with is bizarre ice cream ingredients on Iron Chef America. I'm not volunteering to serve as a judge there anytime soon...
10.16.07 @ 12:34a
Lisa, I am a Filipino who doesn't have more to do on Sundays than watch "Desperate Housewives", but I'm not ashamed of lusting over Dr. Mal- I mean, watching the show. Nor am I embarrassed over any crack it makes over my country's diplomas. What embarrasses me the most is seeing rebels with a dumb cause, and wasted People Power.
10.16.07 @ 12:42a
You're more than a filipino, Alex. You're a thoughtful writer that has a serious viewpoint to work from, and thus offers something unexpected for our otherwise worthless mainstream media to think about.
It doesn't matter if you write about politics, or love, or how hard it is to catch a cab in East L.A., you will put a fresh, intelligent perspective on whatever the topic is and that is all anyone can ask.
10.16.07 @ 12:51a
Dan, thank you for saying so. My ethnicity does in fact contribute to my POV, but I like to think that it doesn't exclusively motivate me.
I like to think that I've learned valuable lessons as a Fil-Am who's lived in the US and Asia, and I'm happy to talk about what I've seen, what I've learned, what I think- and I don't believe in maligning something just because it looks like an insult. Sometimes, what's more insulting are the things one lives with- as a Flip, Marcos jokes are de rigeur, but I will always detest how the Philippines could be a better player along with Thailand or Korea in terms of international politics, but isn't- some chick with a Marie Antoinette complex felt like buying shoes.
I neglected to mention this earlier, but incidentally, it was my blonde, Italian friend Jen who pointed out "Bebot" to me- I didn't teach her about it. And when I listened to it, I was thrilled to learn that a white girl knew something rockin' from my own culture that I didn't know about. Props to Jen for that one, and "'kung maganda ka, sigaw na!" (If you're cute, give a holler!)
10.16.07 @ 1:28a
pinoy ka sigaw na, sige
kung maganda ka sigaw na, sige
kung buhay mo’y mahalaga, sige
salamat sa iyong suporta
I'm the hot blonde Adam ya dumb arse! Ya owe me a drink!
Alex though I don't watch Desperate Housewives, I liked ya article. Thats why I love ya, NOT closed minded!
You’re Filipino shout now, c’mmon
If you’re beautiful shout now, c’mmon
If your life is valuable, c’mmon
Thank you for your support
I'm open to anything Filipino EXCEPT trying balut!
10.16.07 @ 1:51a
I thought this was a well considered and fair article from someone who has spent their entire life living between both cultures.
It amazes me the fact that Filipinos can mobilize an army to bitch about perceived slights that come from over seas but seem unable to do anything about the problems that have been plauguing their country since independence from the US. I remember when a similar furore erupted over 'Filipina' being listed as 'Maid' in a Spanish dictionary. Next thing they'll be demanding the Filipina Dating site banner removed from this Intrepid page!
For shame! Let's face it the girls on the dating site linked to this page are only after the same thing as the Philippino doctors who work in the US and other countries - a way out of poverty. At least they didn't waste years going to a corrupt med school to achieve the same thing. Just flashing a smile and wearing a plunge top seems to be equivalent to a Med degree from the Philippines at the moment. ;-)
With its indemic institutionalised corruption, making a crack about the integrity of any organisation in the Philippines should carry about as much weight as knocking the Kiwis for having sex with sheep.
I am not racist in my views (I generally dislike most people an equal amount). I really think that in this case people like Tsiki-tsiki-bang-bang need to get a sense of humour or at least take it in their stride that they come from within a system that has been tainted by corruption. It is up to them to create the correct impression of the Philippine Medical profession by their actions and skills. But slang off and making personally derogatory statements towards the person who wrote the article for the purpose of stimulating debate about the issue is not the way to achieve it.
I love the Philippines and lived there for a number of years. As far as the medicos go, a team of doctors in Manila saved my life when I had a severe infection so I personally am in no doubt about their abilities.
However this is also a country with adultery laws that only apply to women, same sex relationaships are viewed as unnatural and second class legally, where young women send their children and siblings to school by selling themselves to foreigners for $20 a go, where drug abuse and incest rape is common, where much of the economy is controlled by a few families whilst the majority have nothing. These are things really worth getting angry about and demanding changed, rather than bitching to the western world about how unfair it is to have a go at Pinoy doctors in the form of a one liner in a second rate show.
10.16.07 @ 1:52a
Alex, no need for anyone to be ashamed of watching something they enjoy--I'm completely unapologetic for being a "Red Green Show" fan, myself, as silly as it is. I just happen to know that my friends have precious little time to watch TV, and I know from experience that given a choice between allocating time to "Desperate Housewives" or sports (especially football), sports is going to win, hands down. They have certain priorities in life, you see. ;)
I agree with you. Using DH as a rallying point for tackling cultural misconceptions just doesn't make sense, from two perspectives. One, no one is ever going to change public perception of a particular culture by bombarding a TV show's message board. Two, trying to get Hollywood to be culturally sensitive is like trying to poor water back up a waterfall. It defies all laws of nature.
10.16.07 @ 2:16a
Pixie D- a.k.a. the Notorious J.E.N.- again, PROPS to you. Hell, I'm Filipino and don't frickin' like balut. There's a lot of blechity-blech-blech reasons WHY it showed up on "Fear Factor."
Adam McG- shit, it's awesome to see you here! (Readers and Intrepidites, meet who "A Holiday Ghost Story" was written about- this guy kicks ass!)
As you mention, 'Filipina' made it into the dictionary as the word 'maid', but I'm not gonna scream at you for pointing it out, or at the dictionary manufacturers for printing it, but I would like to pelt a big fat piece of Spam at my equivalent of Madame Mao, whose bra-buying sprees from the '80s still contribute to the continued existence of my own kind in a modern-day indentured servant position for the hope of a goddamned better life. Nor am I going to bother carrying any shame over the fact that the association exists when it's more important to keep looking at the bigger picture.
Heck, I could scream at the Australian government for including a scene in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert where a secondary Filipina sex-worker character shoots ping-pong balls out of her ass to a roaring, appreciative male bar audience. But I'm not going to do that, because that's about as useful as screaming at a brick wall or trying to convince drunk Flips to stay off karaoke machines. Nor do I want to concentrate on that when Priscilla opened a whole lot of positive doors for gays and lesbians alike. Instead, I'd rather make sure that the flourishing sex trade and other associated issues like pedophilia are no longer present in the country. That's worth focusing on.
If we don't keep a sense of humor- if we don't remember that we need to keep laughing collectively as a people- then we're going to misfocus ourselves and scream every time someone cracks a "chopsticks and Catholicism Wow" joke instead of addressing the greater issues we face. Instead of impassioned, we look fucking ridiculous.
Oh, and Lisa, I'm a sucker for "Desperate Housewives" because, as I said, I'm just a (racially disloyal) and (pedestrian) devotee of slutty, trampy, and generally bitchy TV :-)
10.16.07 @ 2:29a
robert said "I don't care where the doctor graduated; the Philippines, Caribbean, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, etc.... After recent events in my life I don't trust any doctors. I want two or three opinions, I refuse to take their advice, and honestly think all they care about is insurance money or money in general."
It's very interesting, living in Canada - specifically British Columbia. Not saying we don't have our issues with intolerance and racism, but, that aside - I have an interesting tidbit.
I can't go to a doctor up here - I'm not Canadian yet, so I don't have a SIN (social insurance number). It would cost me ridiculous amounts of money (and probably more, since I'm American) just to check to see if I really do have a broken bone in my foot.
I go to an RMT. A Registered Massage Therapist. Unlike many states (and even a couple provinces), BC requires so much training before being able to practice, most RMT's are better educated and more knowledgeable than nurses or nurse practitioners. This ain't your Happy Ending 'masseuse'. I call her for everything - my sprained ankle, a consultation on a mole I think is growing, tooth pain, cramps, indigestion, flu...you name it. She's amazing and proscribes - for the most part - a homeopathic/natureopathic remedy or cure.
If there is a natureopath in your area, Robert, I highly suggest consulting one, in conjunction with the three or four other doctors!
and - back to the Nathan watch...
10.16.07 @ 2:32a
Maigen, just focus on three words with me, and I bet your foot will be all better:
Dr. Mal. Reynolds.
10.16.07 @ 11:54a
I just don't understand how certain posters can be so angered by this article, or by a barb apparently uttered by former Lois Lane/ dead Bond girl #258 Teri Hatcher. True it was a barb that undoubtedly rubbed salt in a wound borne by certain members of the medical community-- but that wound was there already. The story was blown wide open last year and like it or not, the integrity of a foreign medical education system took a hit.
Nothing new was inflicted by some twenty-something writer at a desk in Southern California, working in an office of one or many buildings owned by a television syndicate with thousands of employees.
I had to take an exam to become licensed to practice in California. If it came to light that the exam was tainted in any material respect, I'd expect to take some form of a hit. I would also expect the integrity of California attorneys to be at least a *little* bit tarnished. Hell, it's tarnished anyway. How many jokes do you hear about medical professionals educated in the Philippines? (Ooh yeah, I can just imagine the knee-slapping punchlines..."OK, OK, two nurses, a priest and a duck walk into a Manila exam room....") Lawyers on the other hand get knocked in books, newspapers, magazines, by stand-up comedians, legal commentators, and in a fair amount of religious script on a regular basis, and have for a period spanning years. Decades. Centuries?
And you know what-- I can take it. Call it a hazard of the occupation. I also believe anyone who has the ironclad stomach necessary to make a living inserting nasogastric tubes, starting IVs and collecting all manner of specimens from bed-ridden patients ought to have a stronger stomach for a little humor, however tasteless.
10.16.07 @ 12:19p
Spence, props to you for commenting here too, and I am absolutely grateful to know that you're here for both personal and principled reasons.
I'm not entirely surprised I became targeted, but I figure I'm taking some potshots because it's easier to rip me a new asshole than to take on the generationally embedded political corruption, and I'm more accessible than a Marcos. But, even though bitching about something I wrote or "DH", might make those protesting Pinoys feel better for three seconds, they just reinforce my point- bitching is not gonna change the fact that nurses resorted to cheating out of desperation, or that quite a few medical practicioners seek to leave the Philippines by the boatload because of how rotten and omnipresent the corruption is.
And you know what? I'll be happy to take on any other bitchings if anyone has enough balls to actually WRITE THEM OUT HERE.
10.16.07 @ 12:25p
I chose not to post something last night because I was angry and I didn't want to say anything that I would regret later.
I've lived in both the Philippines and in the US just as long as you and I don't think that
"this was a well considered and fair article from someone who has spent their entire life living between both cultures".
I was most upset by the fact that in your article, you disregarded the feelings of the people that were actually affected by the line that was said on the show. I have been looking for is validation when so many people have dismissed it as an over-reaction. When has it ever been wrong to defend and take pride in one's own country?
Plus, there has never been an incidence of cheating on the medical licensing exam in the Philippines. And all of the nurses that year had to re-take the exam because of a few people that cheated.
And lastly, I dare you to send this to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and address the Filipino people directly. I assure you that they won't be as nice as I've been.
10.16.07 @ 12:41p
'spose we're all gonna have to go back to Polack jokes.
10.16.07 @ 12:48p
Good to see you at last making some public comments, Reg.
If you don't think this is a well-considered or fair article, then what do you think it is? How do you think it's unfair? How do you think it isn't well-considered? If you're going to air an accusation, BACK IT UP.
Maybe I am guilty of stepping on a bunch of doctors' toes. I'll even gladly agree that I've committed a total violation of taste or tact- fuck it, I can't please everyone. But I really don't know who is "affected" as you claim they are. Are a bunch of Filipino doctors in the US going to lose their jobs from a "Desperate Housewives" joke? NO. Are Filipino doctors in desperate danger of being racially singled out by their patients because of "DH"? I highly, highly doubt it, but if they are, those patients were bigoted and predisposed to ugly thinking long before "DH" cracked a joke.
If there IS something that's gonna affect us, it's how we've reacted so strongly at a joke that is, in fact, satire in it's purest form- a little one-shot barb that alludes to our country's corruption and scandal through dark, bitchy humor. We look like a people who will cry over skinned knees, and incapable of repairing our broken bones and internal maladies.
There has never been an instance of cheating on the med exam? Bullshit. Why do you think that damn scandal happened in the first place?
Go ahead and dare me all you want to send this to the Inquirer. Maybe they won't be so nice to me over there. But, someone over here already did it IN SUPPORT. And if people aren't nice, I'm ready to take 'em on, honey. Especially if they are as nice as you.
And, I don't believe there is anything wrong in taking pride in my heritage. The other night, I nearly punched someone for asking me to say "Me love you long time" in a Chinese accent, and I proudly told 'em I wouldn't do it because I'm a Flip. I happily corrected someone on the spot to let 'em know it, and I will gladly stand up for our people when ignorance is lobbed at our people.
Don't even think I won't defend us till I'm dead. I just won't join any bandwagon thinking because I'm not that hard up for a cause to follow.
10.16.07 @ 12:54p
Russ, as long as we make Polack jokes without dragging Nathan Fillion into it, I'll be damn happy.
10.16.07 @ 1:31p
Why is it that 50,000 people shriek in outrage like little girls and wave banners of righteousness whenever someone makes a comment about some event that has been news fodder for a fair amount of time now? True confession: this is officially the most I ever knew about this "scandal." Had I been fully informed from the get-go, my perception of nurses educated in the Philippines would not have been altered in the slightest.
I wonder if, ironically, more world attention and unfair hype has been called to the events surrounding the exams last year by virtue of an army of ex-hippies and Berkeley students recently screaming "UNFAIR" and "INSENSITIVE" than by virtue of the contemporaneous media coverage of the event itself. And if that is the case, what cause is being advanced by such voracious anger in response to a sitcom that I, for one, don't even watch?
You are doing more harm than good, dumbasses.
In addition, and as in any other profession, each individual rises and falls on his or her own achievement and reputation --- not on whether or not they *might* have been one of a few cheaters on a licensing exam. And I agree with Alex. This is by no means the first occasion where someone was not honest on a professional exam, and it isn't even the first to generate a media feeding frenzy. In the end, however, the question remains: Who cares? It seems only the protesters. Everyone else realizes that there are safeguards in place protecting patients from medical malpractice above and beyond a couple sections on a professional exam, so we need not worry about the integrity of the profession as a whole or even a subclass of practitioners thereof.
Us lawyers for example. Don't worry, all of you who are worried about your RNs... we will keep you safe and warm and help you sleep at night.
Shit-- you know what-- If everyone was so sensitive, I'd be rallying 25,000 California lawyers to join in my march against unfair bias against attorneys. We'd break into every Barnes and Noble, snag every one of the SCORES of lawyer jokebooks out there and have us a big-ass book burning on the lawn of the State Capitol.
And Alex-- the line "Me love you long time" was actually spoken by a Vietnamese hooker in the 1989 film "Full Metal Jacket." You said Chinese... ugh! You're in trouble-- somewhere in an internet cybercafe in Hanoi there's a Vietnamese working girl waiting around to kick your ass, you insensitive bitch...
10.16.07 @ 2:06p
Spence, if you need any matches for the massive book-burning, I have a bunch from a local Irish pub right on top of my toilet.
And, I never knew "Me love you long time" was originally a Vietnamese reference- I've never seen Full Metal Jacket. The way I've known it is as a pan-Asian joke in general- I remember Lucy Liu riffing it in "Payback" while she kicked Mel Gibson's ass, and every Asian chick has heard it in the same way you've probably heard every frickin' lawyer joke possible. Crap, man. Does this mean the Vietnamese can possibly sue me?
10.16.07 @ 2:17p
The Vietnamese won't sue you but you'll likely see demonstrations against you on CNN this evening.
10.16.07 @ 2:31p
OMG Alex now I have 2 movies I have to school you to!
Spun and Full Metal Jacket !!
"This is my riffle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun!"
"Hey, you got girlfriend Vietnam? Me so horny. Me love you long time."
Five dolla sucky sucky!
Anyhow, Alex I think you should send this over to the "Inquirer" if it's not controversial it's not worth reading in my opinion.
10.16.07 @ 2:36p
I'm with Pixie-- you need schooling in this classic cinematic masterpiece.
"I wanted to travel to exotic Vietnam, the jewel of southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting people from an old and distinguished culture... and kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block with a confirmed kill."
Also, the soundbyte referenced above was sampled by the 2 Live Crew in "Me So Horny"-- the first track of their 1989 Nasty album.
10.16.07 @ 2:44p
something reg said caught my eye: "When has it ever been wrong to defend and take pride in one's own country?"
Just like with *ahem* recent and ongoing issues with the United States - it's NOT okay to 'defend and take pride in one's own country' when it's completely, erroneously, blatantly bandwagoning.
And Alex, you were right. Dr. Mal Reynolds...
my foot TOTALLY feels better!
10.16.07 @ 3:34p
Spence and Pixie D- I'm so gonna watch Full Metal Jacket. You two are right- I need to make sure my Asian joke repetoire stands perfectly referenced.
And dagnabbit Maigen, I'm gonna keep taking pride in both my countries and cultures, even when friends in my own ethnicity fry me for SPAM.
10.16.07 @ 3:50p
Dude, I'm southern. We fry it up with potatos and call it corn beef hash.
the hubby is canadian and loves it. we should TOTALLY go out for Spam when we're in NYC! FYI - we're in NYC in November. Don't know the dates yet.
10.16.07 @ 6:32p
Some folks seem to be giving the DH writers too much credit. I doubt the line was meant to satirize a particular Philipine scandal or its particular med schools or whatever. It was just a throwaway line based on a stereotype about island med schools. The writer came up with "Philippines" without really thinking about it. Everybody knows it's the med schools in the Bahamas that are the real problem. (Now that's satire!)
10.16.07 @ 11:55p
Ken, I totally thought the DH line was a riff on our nursing scandal because it was so totally pitch-perfect in timing- maybe you're right that it's a question of 'med schools in *insert country*'.
Sheesh. I bet that writer seriously wishes he or she wrote "Bahamas."
10.17.07 @ 4:46a
I kinda agree with Ken, I think it was most likely thrown in there without much thought... but I also didn't watch the show either..... We're not that clever here in America... ahurrr durrrr
10.17.07 @ 6:03a
Personally, I just couldn't believe so many people are so upset about this. To beat, maim, draw and quarter a dead horse - it's Desperate Housewives for the love of anything holy. Who bloody cares?
10.17.07 @ 8:37a
Wow! Who woulda thunk that a little night-time comedy-drama show would cause such a stir with a little comment about a school in the Philippines? This is what I know. I have in the past worked with a couple of veterinarians from the Philippines (who cannot practice here as such) and they didn't know diddley-squat. Does that mean I would never ask another vet from the Philippines a question or trust what they have to say? NO. I don't think Lex meant to offend you Tsiki. It's a show and she was making light of a situation that at one point was a bit controversial. You are taking yourself WAY too seriously. As long as you know that you're a good doctor and you ARE able to practice in the US (because there are like a bigillion exams and tests and poking and prodding-no pun intended- that goes on to be able to do so) because you fulfilled the requirements needed, then who cares what Susan Meyer (a FICTIONAL character) says? It wasn't a stab at you personally. And, if you know Alex, she gotta be one onf the proudest Flips Jen (yeah the hot one and I are friends) and I know. Besides, here's a question I pose to you and all Filipinos who were offended: were you offended when Karen Walker (from Will and Grace) made the comment about how she loved Filipinos because they're not pretentious about being Asian?
10.17.07 @ 8:38a
Wow! Who woulda thunk that a little night-time comedy-drama show would cause such a stir with a little comment about a school in the Philippines? This is what I know. I have in the past worked with a couple of veterinarians from the Philippines (who cannot practice here as such) and they didn't know diddley-squat. Does that mean I would never ask another vet from the Philippines a question or trust what they have to say? NO. I don't think Lex meant to offend you Tsiki. It's a show and she was making light of a situation that at one point was a bit controversial. You are taking yourself WAY too seriously. As long as you know that you're a good doctor and you ARE able to practice in the US (because there are like a bigillion exams and tests and poking and prodding-no pun intended- that goes on to be able to do so) because you fulfilled the requirements needed, then who cares what Susan Meyer (a FICTIONAL character) says? It wasn't a stab at you personally. And, if you know Alex, she gotta be one of the proudest Flips Jen (yeah the hot one and I are friends) and I know. Besides, here's a question I pose to you and all Filipinos who were offended: were you offended when Karen Walker (from Will and Grace) made the comment about how she loved Filipinos because they're not pretentious about being Asian?
10.17.07 @ 2:47p
Hey hey hey, Lady J! Always fun when I see you post here. Thanks for the props- and like you, I had no idea the show would cause the ruckus it did. I mean, hey- I laughed, and I thought we Flips were cool enough to be made fun of in the "DH" universe. I likewise had no idea that I would have THIS big a talk about it because it apparently is that serious, but what I think is more serious than a TV show is my people freakin' out over the wrong thing. (Karen said we're not pretentious snots! How cool is that? Megan Mullally remotely knows who I am!)
10.17.07 @ 4:44p
Naw Russ, we can't pick on the Polack's - All in the Family took care of that. Maybe the Italians..um, nope, Soprano's had that one covered, as well as several others. How 'bout the Irish? Hmm, nope, we've been blasted in some sitcom somewhere as well. I know, Jews - we'll pick on the Jews. That'll be novel. Oh, guess not...I think they've been mentioned in a few shows too, as well as IM's Adam Kraemer in one or two articles.
It's called a sense of humor people. Last I checked, it was not indegenous to white suburban America.
If the line uttered by Teri Hatcher, btw, which was said by AN ACTRESS in the context of her CHARACTER making the statement was said with the intention of defamatory negligence I would join this bandwagon. Since I don't believe it was, and since I didn't check my sense of humor at the door, I laughed when I heard Susan Myersquestion where the medical degree came from. She just as easily could've asked if it came from that little island called Ireland, or the frozen tundra in Norway and I would have laughed just as hard. I wouldn't have felt "my peeps" had been slighted.
Jeez Louise people.
10.17.07 @ 11:39p
As long as I get first dibs on the pan-Asian jokes, I'm down. (But if someone beats me to 'em, then I can live with that).
10.18.07 @ 4:55a
I have to admit that Spun was a great movie as was Full Metal Jacket (go Stanley Kubric!). The latter is worth watching just to try and recognise Vincent D'Onofrio (sic) from Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It's just a shame you don't get an Australian show called Fat Pizza over there. It is the most un-PC show I've ever seen. Its about a bunch of Italians and Lebanese running a pizza shop in Sydney and is truly democratic because it offends everyone. In the movie version, the first scene involves the main character getting into a fight with a paraplegic, a blind man and a midget who were angry at him using the disbled toilet at the mall. It more or less gets more unPC from there. The reason Pizza is such a cult show here is because it is a tongue in cheek depiction of the very real and disturbing current of racism that exists in Australia. Pizza shows it to be exactly what it is - ridiculous. Humour is and should be used as a means of airing politically incorrect viewpoints for the purpose of initiating meaningful discussion on these very serious issues. It should also be used as a weapon to show bigots for what they are and the often stupid and ignorant basis for their views. We have a few brave comedians here both in scripted fictional shows and guerilla documentaries. An example of the latter is John Safran. In one episode of his show 'John Safran vs God', he went to America and tried to join the KKK. The interview with the Grand Dragon was going really well until John asked him if it was ok that he was Jewish. You can check him out at his homepage:
At the end of the day, as Lex's article and the subsequent feedback has proven, the intelligent discussion that results from airing views that may not be entirely politically correct outweighs and thin skinned offense that comments like the one on DH cause.
If all you have to add to the discussion is to take personal swipes at the author for raising a viwpoint different than your own, piss off and stop wasting all of our time.
Keep up the good work Lex.
10.18.07 @ 8:50a
Funny, I rank Spun among the worst movies I've ever seen.
10.18.07 @ 2:35p
Funny, I rank Spun among the worst movies I've ever seen.
Now I've really got to see this movie so I can figure out why it's such a big deal.
10.18.07 @ 2:54p
Adam McG- Thankfully, I don't have to get Fat Pizza over here to 1) eat it (I live in NY after all) or 2) see terrific examples of satirical humor- I have cable, watch too much TV, and again- I live in NY, after all! Aside from loving Da Ali G Movie, I wish you could check out Avenue Q. If there's someone who would enjoy Sesame Street on speed, it's you- not only because of little songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", but because of little songs like "The Internet is For Porn." (And it won a Tony. Who woulda thought a show with muppets singing about sex or a character called Lucy the Slut would win awards on Broadway?)
10.18.07 @ 3:05p
I'm the hot blonde Adam ya dumb arse! Ya owe me a drink!
No, I knew that. I'm just not 100% sure I want to visit that bar right now. I'll buy you a drink somewhere in Manhattan. Or Brooklyn.
Wasn't there a really crappy movie with Matthew Modine where he and a bunch of wacky misfits have to go to med school on an island somewhere? If I'm the only one who's ever seen it, you're all better people than me.
10.18.07 @ 3:17p
Kraemer, I never saw Gross Anatomy (had to IMDB that to get the title!). But, I think about you every time I hear "Jews in space" from History of the World: Part I.
10.23.07 @ 8:17a
I know I'm late responding to this but I have to make a note of the best tech support person I've ever encountered who was Jerry from the Filipines, working for Dell. In all of my over twenty years of dealing with tech support people, Jerry is the BEST. He was kind, funny, supremely knowledgeable, and got my Dell printer drivers installed on my new Sony computer with a minimum of bother for me. He was so great I invited him to come and stay with us the next time he's in the states. I promised (threatened?) to feed him fried chickern and collard greens. I'll let y'all know if he gets here.
11.2.07 @ 6:18p
I'm super late in responding to this, but I want to say that there's a time and place to get offended when ethnic jokes are made, and even more importantly, there's a way to deal with certain situations that offend you that keep your image as an awesome person and group intact.
I've said before that the best thing to do when it comes to an offense from the media is to just turn the dial. When you turn the dial, you drop the ratings. No need to even say anything.
There are also more constructive ways to deal with ignorant people. For instance, when I was in college, I had a classmate who was Filipino. The class was cultural anthropology, and one day, a girl in the class made the comment "Prostitution is a way of life for people in the Philippines." The Filippino girl immediately raised her hand and tastefully and simply pointed out that prostitution is not a way of life for Filippinos and I can't remember what else. The girl who made the comment immediately apologized and I believe learned something new about a culture she obviously had no clue about in an educational and tasteful environment.
You have to pick and choose your battles and your warfare, and a TV show that takes very little seriously, and is devoid of any morality is not a show to be taken seriously by intelligent people. People who do take it seriously are people who are already so far gone, there's very little one can do to change them. I know, because I've been around such people, and believe me, there is nothing you can do for them other than hope and pray that one day a brick will fall on their head to open their mind a little.