Thursday, October 04, 2007

Desperate Housewives flap

Now, I have never watched this show, but I know a lot of people who do. When I came into the office Monday morning, I heard of this bad joke that was told in the show the night before - making a reference to Filipino medical schools. Now, I have to tell you that I'm of Filipino heritage, but received my medical training in the US.

I first heard reference to this story over at Kevin, MD. Apparently, some in the Filipino community were offended at the comment that was made on the show (see youtube video above). When I did more research on this, apparently the Filipino government is seeking a formal apology now. And, there are some out there who said the phrase was taken out of context.

First of all, the clips on youtube only show about 20 seconds, and I can easily see how they could be taken out of context. I have about a 240 second clip above for your review. Honestly, I don't understand why people are so offended about this. This is clearly not a shot at Filipino doctors or Filipino medical schools.

The Teri Hatcher character in this scene is nervous and possibly anxious about a certain diagnosis and the writers had the character blurt out this really bad line in this situation. I'm not offended by it, and, in my humble opinion, others should not be either.


may said...

i respect your opinion, but i have to be honest and tell you that i am offended by whole thing. i will not bore you with the details of why i think it was offensive, i just thought i'd drop my personal thought on it.

however, a public apology, in my opinion, is POINTLESS.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel offended by it either. One just has to consider that it's a dialogue by a fictional TV show character. One doesn't have to be affected by such. All these clamor for a public apology and revision of the episode is just unnecessary.

It's certainly bothering for me that a lot of people have to blow this out of proportion. But I'll just have to respect what they think is offensive to them for the sake of peace. These are people who wouldn't want to be told that they shouldn't be insulted. So I just let them be. But I can still have my say on it so I just blogged about it here.

I wonder what the other Filipino and Filipino-American doctors in the U.S. think about this. Though, it's been said in the news that the Fil-Am community moved to demand an apology from the TV show, I just want to know what others think.

Dr. A said...

May - I appreciate you leaving that comment. I look forward to hearing your opinion on this issue.

The Gamin said...

People today are way too sensitive. I, too, can be offended, but it takes a lot more than that. And it is really going overboard when the government gets involved.

Jessica said...

Though if you watch this show regularly you will know that this character is always saying the wrong things... which is why if you watch the show regularly you don't notice or really pay too much attention to what she is really saying... in my opinion anyways. :)

Dr. Emer said...

It was offensive because it reflected the degree of ignorance and insensitivity of whoever wrote that line on what Philippine med schools are all about. Filipinos are very sensitive when it comes to issues like this one. But ABC has apologized, and I think that's enough. But that's just me. Most people here do not feel appeased yet.

Anonymous said...

I dont think people should make fun of other races.Yes,I watch this show and I felt that it was uncalled for.To me it meant that being a Filipino doctor was not being on par with other doctors....which is not right

Anonymous said...

Doctor of Filipino Heritage who is educated in the US - I believe you are not sensitive to the Filipino who are educated in the Philippines especially those who are 1st generations. This statment was clearly uncalled for. The doctor in the scence was white - why referr to the Philippines if the comment was directed to degrade those who were educated in the Philippines. You should step back and re-connect with your Philippine Heritage.

Anonymous said...

dr of fil heritage - u felt "safe" bec u were educated here. that's y u dont care. but how wud u feel if you save lives each day no matter what race, get commended by your CEO and coworkers and all and then this show would just insult mds like us bec of where we got our education.
that writer shd be ashamed of himself. at least we earn our living by not putting down people.

Anonymous said...

I am an MD, practice here in the States, educated in the Philippines. I am Department Head of a very large reputable hospital in Chicago. The point is why use Philippine medical schools as the punchline? They could have used "internet medical diplomas" or "martian medical school" to drive the point that she was questioning his credentials. I do feel offended whether in context or out of context.

Anonymous said...

check this one out. read what americans had to say on this issue:

majority of em really doesn't believe in the skills of doctors who came from the philippines..

Unknown said...

I truly respect the Filipino community for making a stand for what has been considered a disrespectful and racist statement on a culture so underrepresented. I have personally involved myself in numerous protests to stand up for the rights of various underrepresented groups-- committing to making a difference, associating myself with issues that affect the community at large. I am 100% for the Filipino community and all the good ethics and morals for which we stand. However, my views and opinions on this particular matter are different. As with all controversies, there will be countless viewpoints to this story. I believe this diversity of views to be a good thing as it offers all members of our community a chance to participate. My perspective is this:

America is one of the biggest melting-pots, filled with so many people of different walks of life—whites, blacks, Native-Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Pacific Islanders, Filipinos, Israelis, Jews, and the list goes on and on. The media in America, land of free speech, has portrayed many of our cultures in the wrong light, misconstruing our true identity and culture. We’ve seen it all, especially in comedy clubs and U.S. movies, with various people ridiculing other cultures, distinctively—the blacks, the whites, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Jews, Chinese, Russians, the gay and lesbian communities. . .you name it.

In all this, Filipinos have remained a silent minority, rarely even recognized as a race, in and of itself, on national, let alone international television; and therefore, have been saved from much of the crass, often classless commentary made on large groups. And when Filipinos are mentioned in just one sentence in a (personally speaking), dumb-witted American TV show like Desperate Housewives, all of a sudden, we react strongly and request an apology and further reprimands. I completely understand the controversy among Filipino-immigrant doctors in the U.S. They have every right to be upset, especially because there are many Filipino docotrs who have come from the Philippines to the United States, gone through twice as much scrutiny than their state-side compatriots, all to ensure that there’s a sufficient number of medical staff in American hospitals. From my perspective, there is absolutely no doubt that that’s true. It is evident. However, I believe we must also take honest ownership of the roots of such outrageous statements.

Overtime, Filipinos have been characterized as very dishonest, deceitful, and fraudulent. As Filipinos, we are aware of that fact. The Filipino government in itself displays clear examples of outright corruption. The way money is distributed; there is a vast and growing division between rich and poor, the provinces and Manila, government officials and the average citizen-- I’m sure you can add more to the list. Some Filipinos in America have continued this negative black mark. We have been labeled as greedy, cheap, fraudulent, and many other things. This should not, by any means, reflect as true on all Filipinos; but in order to change the negative stigma that we have acquired by some, we have to acknowledge the truth behind it. To me, this is the only way to draw a contrast with the many that uphold our values and principles. To me, taking ownership is the way to show the large population of people, who know only the stigmas, the other side of the coin. To play victim to the thoughtless comments of a TV show cast by an all-white cast is not the answer.

When America creates films, comedys, tv series, cartoons or news, it is expected that the minorities are going to be generalized, ridiculed, misjudged, and completely misinterpreted. So often, they show only one aspect of a culture that has a myriad of different personalities, behaviors, habits, and opinions. There are so many other cultural communities that have undergone an age-old struggle to finally be respected as individuals in America. In comparison to other cultural communities, I felt that this issue is not one to be dwelled upon, but rather, one where we should show America the opposite of what they perceive. We know how much our Filipino Community has contributed to the healthcare industry—I myself have chosen that path. America’s perception is not always right; but I would rather that our community gathers, with the same passion and organization, to fight the actual frauds and injustices that are occurring. I would rather that our community put less value on the way American pop-culture perceives us and more value on our actual participation in nurturing our own.
Here’s some interesting piece of information I found on the internet about how Filipinos are viewed: Ease of integration and assimilation has gained the Filipino American the label of "Invisible Minority." Recent Filipino immigrants assimilate into American culture rapidly, as most are fluent in English. The label also extends to the lack of political power and representation. In the mid-1990s, only 100 Filipino Americans held elected office, with all but one serving at the municipal or state level. This is also partly due to the lack, or invisibility of representation, of Filipino American role models in the wider community and media, despite being the second-largest Asian American group in the United States. These "invisibles" are Americans with more than 400 years of history in America. We have been part of America's grief and America's joy, and almost everything American. Still, we rely on Americans, not Filipinos or Filipino-Americans, to express who we are.
Growing up as a Filipino-American has allowed me to see a different perspective of the Filipino culture, specifically the culture that we’ve created in the U.S. I believe that a huge part of our culture, both here and back home, holds a very intense desire to be like America. The Philippines, after a legacy of over three centuries of Spanish and American colonial rule, is the most Westernized country in Asia. Filipinos have such high regard for the American lifestyle and the American people that, over time, we’ve lost a sense of our own identity as it was, independent of American and Spanish culture. What is it to be Filipino? It’s not just about the food and the language. Who among us are well-versed in our history prior to Spanish occupation? I know very few of my generation can say yes to that question. We have so many amazing qualities such as high work ethic, fierce faith and commitment to religion, an ability to be joyous in even the direst situations, and an ability to persevere beyond even crippling struggles. I only wish these qualities were represented by American pop-culture.

Possibly due to the high admiration for and aspiration to American lifestyle, we were strongly affected by the statement made by Terri Hatcher’s character. But I must say, if they can’t be accurate in their representation of other minorities, there is no reason for us to hold them with such respect and reliance for our dignity. As we’ve said in the past with violence in the media: when we see something on TV that we deem inappropriate, then don’t support it by putting such a high value on it.

Culturally inappropriate language is used very frequently on African Americans, Mexicans, Chicanos, Chicanas, Vietnamese, Chinese. . . and what have these communities done?? Some may complain and request apologies. . . while others. . . they watch the movies, they attend the comedy clubs and are able to laugh at and celebrate what they’ve accepted to be only a tiny representation of a culture that has numerous complexities. Rather than rely on network TV to represent us, let us represent ourselves in the media. We as a Filipino community, I believe, need to realize that we are part of the human race . . . we are part of the minority. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously at the hands of someone else’s perspective on us, we should laugh at the stupidity of their own single-mindedness and leave it at that. If we don’t agree with it, then let’s not support it. We are too strong and intelligent a culture to play victim.