Friday, October 5, 2007

Desperate Housewives Controversy -- Desperately OA

REFRESHER: In the pilot episode of the latest season of Desperate Housewives Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) visits her gynecologist (Nathan Filion, think Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who says that Susan might already be approaching menopause. Susan retorts with this line:

Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines

First of all let me clarify that I have stopped watching Desperate Housewives when season 1 ended because their idea of a storyline started to revolve more on the "Oh-the-neighbor-is-hiding-some-dirty-little-secret-in-her-backyard" storyline which was fun at first but became redundantly abused in the following seasons. While some people argue that that's the premise of living in suburbia anyway, well sorry but I find it boring. On the contrary after this controversy I suddenly missed Edie and Bree and now I want to watch again, hehehe!

Let us clarify first the object of the joke. While most people imply that Filipino doctors were the ones maligned they are actually mistaken. Susan wanted to check the doctor's diploma because she wanted to make sure they did not come from some med school in the Philippines. In short yes, she was implying that the doctor is inferior in a sense but we should not forget that the doctor is American. The object of the joke here is not Filipino doctors per se but MEDICAL SCHOOLS in the Philippines. I think many people got confused with this one because in many online forums I noticed that they are actually defending Filipino doctors.

In a way they are correct to do so but the direct assault was towards the system of education here in the Philippines. While it could be argued that Filipino doctors are mostly the ones who graduate from Filipino med schools, it does not discount the fact that there are foreigners (a handful perhaps) who also graduate from our med schools. In short defending Filipino doctors in this issue is a little bit unjust because the issue is not them but the QUALITY of education offered in our med schools, which caters mostly for Filipinos but not mainly to them. Gets? In short quality of education is the issue. Filipinos should be defending our med schools, not our doctors because in the first place there was no Filipino doctor present in that particular episode.

Why are Filipinos reacting? Of course we will react although a lot are blowing the issue out of proportion already. It is NORMAL for us to react. If my figures are correct Filipinos are only second to Mexicans when it comes to immigration figures in the US both legal and illegal. Of course they will react, and of course we back here in the Philippines are mostly KSP so we react with them as well (hahaha!) Let's play another scenario where instead of Philippines Susan mentions Malaysia. Considering that only a handful Malaysians are in the US compared to the number of Filipinos there I don't think this will even be an issue. How the Malaysians in Malaysia will react I don't know. Do they even watch Desperate Housewives there to give a damn?

So am I justifying this act as long as the Philippines is not the object of the joke? No, I am not. I am just stating a fact. Filipinos in the US are reacting because there's a significant number of them there and to them the joke sounds "racist." We are reacting here because they are insinuating that our medical schools suck, which makes them a nation of dumbasses because if our medical schools here suck then why is their healthcare system comprised mostly of Filipinos? But of course we should not generalize, Susan is really dumb enough to begin with and it's unfair to generalize that every single American mom is dumb just because Susan is, which leads us to one of the defense arguments.

If you have watched the show religiously (I have not) a lot of people are actually in a consensus that the Susan character is stupid. In the one season that I have seen Desperate Housewives I think I actually agree. And so these people actually see the joke differently. They see it as a joke on Susan herself. Come to think of it, she is almost always clueless. That's why I adore Edie because she always succeeds in making Susan look dumb. In short if you are one of these people you actually see it as a joke on Susan herself, another product of her stupidity and being clueless all the time.

If you have been watching the news lately you will see that this issue has been blown out of proportion. It's all over the news and even in the country's leading broadsheets. I understand this reaction because more than anything else we are just trying to protect the integrity of our educational system. Desperate Housewives is seen all over the world through cable television. If you are a teenager in Estonia and you don't even know that the Philippines exist and then you hear this comment more or less you will automatically assume that the statement is true. That's where the sad part comes in. And this is what some people should understand.

Some people who are not actually defending the show but are not criticizing it either are now crying hypocrisy. Why this sudden uproar just because a "racist" remark has been made in American television? Don't we Filipinos make fun of people from the provinces in our own entertainment industry? When a person from the Visayas or from Mindanao is portrayed on TV, don't we also have a lot of stereotypes for them, which we turn into offensive jokes? Then why all of a sudden are we reacting this way? Hypocrisy? I guess not.

I have already explained in the paragraph above the last one that Desperate Housewives is seen all over the world because of America's cultural hegemony. Go to China and you'll see pirated dubbed versions of Friends there. As for our local shows, where we make fun and stereotype our very own countrymen, they are only seen here in the Philippines. Yes there's TFC but mostly Filipinos watch that channel. Yes there are foreigners watching but I don't think there are many of them and I don't think they understand Filipino anyway. Point? Yes we make fun of our own people but we DO KNOW that it is a joke.

Like I said, if you are a person in some far flung country who have no idea that the Philippines even exist then more likely you are to take the joke as truth. In our local showbiz industry this practice is noticeable. I am not endorsing it but I think you would agree with me when I say that although we laugh at those jokes we know that they are not true. If you laugh at those jokes on local TV and think that they are true then I think you are mentally challenged. Point again? I don't think this reaction is hypocrisy but yes, I think it is overreaction.

When politicians start making sawsaw in an issue such as this automatically it becomes complicated. You then sit in one corner to regret having voted for them. When a senator suggests that you refrain from watching this show so that its ratings will go down and no one will watch it anymore you should think twice before following her advice. First of all the TV network that airs this show does not even get at least 5% of the total nationwide ratings. Go to your local palengke and ask the galunggong vendor what her opinion is about this issue. Let's see if your chance of getting an answer would be higher than that of bringing home a plastic bag of fish for dinner.

Even if you ban this show or refrain from watching it I don't think the producers would even say "Ouch." But you would definitely help the pirates at EDSA and Shaw Boulevard earn more profit. If you ban this show from Philippine TV then those counterfeiters will have a monopoly on everything Desperate Housewives. Be considerate. Chairman Edu has a lot of shows already. How do you expect him to go after all those pirates!

But surely it will be a strong statement that we take these things seriously. I just hope the Americans would see it that way because they might see us instead as balat-sibuyas or pikon. In fact one Internet post says that the joke was directed to us because the producers of the show know that we are peace and fun loving people. The author of the post even added that if they insulted a country in the Middle East instead Teri Hatcher (who some politicians actually call Teri Thatcher... Margaret? Hahaha!) would be dead in a month. Funny.

Another funny thing is how we make opportunities out of a controversy like this. The person who started the online petition for an apology even suggested that the producers of the show give out scholarships to Filipinos aspiring to enter the healthcare profession. I just find it funny. Ang oportunista ng dating, honestly. Malay niyo nga naman totohanin, lol.

Okay this article has been long enough. Final words... Politicians please do your f*cking jobs. Don't make sawsaw in this issue because it has been blown way out of proportion already. Lahat na lang kayo gusto makisawsaw. I suggest you hold a special senate session about this, about a week or a month if you must. Legislate a law about it if you want while other issues that really need to get tackled continue to go unnoticed just because you actually find a stupid TV joke as higher priority. Ang eepal ninyong lahat.

Yes we have the right to react but do not overreact. Move on already. If you want to teach those inconsiderate Americans a lesson then convince all Filipinos in the US healthcare system to all be absent just for one day. Let's see how that would wreak havoc in their healthcare system even just for a day. And then after that, move on na. It's just TV. And I think anyone on Earth who has ever encountered a skilled and amiable Filipino healthcare worker would actually see it as just that, a tasteless unnecessary joke from the mind of a mental-blocked screenwriter trying to make a once interesting show appealing once again. Did he or she succeed? Apparently. I even made a 1,750+ word essay about it.

Negative publicity is still publicity.


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