10/04/2007

Racism is not subtle humor, folks

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.


Recently in a Desperate Housewives scene broadcast Sep. 30, 2007, Susan (Teri Hatcher) 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. "

It's a gag line, its a throw away line, its a line for laughs. Maybe, maybe we could argue that it fits her character, that Susan is an ignorant, high strung, arrogant, prejudiced woman caught in throes of fear. Maybe the writers intend that she'll see the errors of her ways when she's saved by a Filipino nurse in a future episode. Or maybe it'll be a white guy doc (because the doc would /have/ to be a white and male to pull it off, right?) with a wall lined with credentials from the Philippines, and he'd find a cure for what ails her (some as yet undiscovered life threatening disease that mimics menopausal symptoms).

At best, its a badly written line that could have been reforged as "Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some back alley med school where the booze is as thick as my eyeliner." Or maybe "...where the training is as thin as my morals..." or ...

The point being that the writers didn't have to bring race into the line, didn't have to disparage the hundreds of thousands of Filipino healthcare workers working everyday to save lives, care for elderly and children, and ease the burdens of people from every race and walk of life for just one laugh.

When racial prejudice is used as a gag, the viewer and the targeted race are diminished, demeaned, and damaged, leaving a gaping hole that no amount of laughter can fill.

These types of lines and comments have been protested before and this incident is no different.

Those who wish to write in person contact:

Mr. Mark Pedowitz
President
ABC Television Network
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4551


An online petition "Filipino Americans demand apology from ABC and Deperate Housewives" is not just for Filipinos but for those who want to make their voices heard - Racism is not subtle humor. It's wrong and it has to stop.

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