01 October 2007

Maybe I'm Just a Wee Bit Sensitive

Maybe I'm just a wee bit sensitive, but I was watching Desperate Housewives yesterday and I heard a line that went something like, "Wait a minute! I need to check your credentials. I have to make sure that you didn't get your degree from the Philippines." That line made me cringe especially since the University of Philippines has a great reputation - not sure if it's in medicine, but still.

The funny (and I don't mean it in a "ha-ha" kind of way) is that there are A LOT of Filipinos in the medical profession. I mean, really, you can't swing a dead cat in a hospital without hitting a Filipino nurse! I know that this line was meant to be funny but it wasn't. You can be assured that if you put any other nationality in that line, people would be up in arms. I ASSURE you that if you put a racial group in that line, people would be completely bent out of shape.

Does this mean that I'll stop watching Desperate Housewives? Only if the story lines are boring, but then again I'm not a loyal watcher.


encarna said...

Your sensitivity is justified. I watched it too and I was horrified to hear such an obvious racial slur. My cousin, one of the most resepected geneticists in the world, went to UP, so the insult was personal to me as well. I'm drafting a letter of protest, but I wonder if there's any other place online where I can register a complaint; a petition perhaps.

Doctor said...

I actually had to rewind my TiVo in order to check if that's what Susan actually said. Told my husband that yes, I don't know about the medical schools there, but I do know that the medical education is definitely good enough for the U.S. to continually recruit nurses from there. As far as I know, doctors graduating there and choosing to work here still have to pass the same boards as Harvard-educated ones.
I know a few people who've gotten their medical degrees and have successful practices here. Definitely ticked me off.

xiaolinmama said...

Chicago Chick,
I am SO glad you posted this. I caught that too and was like - what??? I am sure someone with some advocacy group caught it. As you pointed out earlier, I'm so glad that October is Filipino History month! Hmmm... we should organize something.

Check out this blog post on this from a Pinoy doctor:

Mixednuts said...

I heard about this and it is upsetting. I know they just want to be funny but I hope they don;t have to do it at the expense of others. they should be told we have great doctors here.

Karmela said...

But isn't Teri Hatcher's character in the show SUPPOSED to be idiotic, insensitive and ignorant (as in, she doesn't realize the irony in making that remark when in fact hospitals in the U.S. are indeed filled with medical professionals from the Philippines) person? In making that remark, weren't the writers of the show justified in having her character say such a thoughtless thing because IT FITS THE CHARACTER and shows us her own imperfection?

As a novelist, I always have the characters in my stories saying and doing offensive things all the time, AS LONG AS IT FITS THEIR CHARACTER. To tell me that my characters outright can't say something racist or disparaging limits my character-building enormously. What if I wanted to create a character who grows from being an absolute bigot to one that is enlightened by the end of the story? What then? I can't make him say racial slurs? How then can I show you the depth of his bigotry so that I can properly redeem him by the end of the book?

mamazilla said...

ARRRGH!! i missed the show! so i don't know what context that was said. but it sounds totally ignorant and unnecessary. but what else do we expect from hollywood or abc or a show that trades heavily on negative stereotypes.

i'm not advocating censoring writers but i think as a viewer of a primetime tv show i have the right to complain about something that is written very insensitively and meant derogatorily.

what i know of susan's story arc NEVER mentions anything of her alleged racial insensitivity. admittedly, she's totally clueless when it comes to relationships with men and dealing with her teenaged daughter, but to my limited knowledge there has never been a storyline involving her with any persons of color.

here's a link to the petition demanding an apology online - http://www.petitiononline.com/FilABC/

YB Chavez said...

LA's Phil ConGen wrote a letter of complaint to ABC yesterday. I e-mailed their media dept. to get a response from EP Marc Cherry but so far, no response yet.

I saw the part where Susan says this (I still have it on my DVR but I just fastforwarded to that part when I heard about the furor. I haven't seen the rest of the ep - kind of killed my desire to, honestly).

I think it's casual meanness and insensitivity. Susan is portrayed in the show as a klutzy, emotional person but not - till this ep - as a racist, so this came out of left field, I think. If it was uttered by someone like House who dishes these kinds of things on a regular basis, I think there'll be less negative reaction. Desperate Housewives tend to do the outrageous and most of the time, it works. Just like how porn is defined - I know it when I see it -the same was probably said by Pinoys who were offended by the dialogue.

They probably didn't mean to offend but they did so they should apologize.

I think the reaction of the community is justified.