ABC Studios and the producers of “Desperate Housewives” must not have expected the backlash from the controversial September 30, 2007 episode of the show that used Filipino medical schools as punch line.
Even Teri Hatcher, the Golden Globe best actress awardee in 2005 for her turn as Susan Mayer in “Desperate Housewives,” must not have reckoned with the condemnation that the one line she uttered in that episode invited.
“Can I check those diplomas because I want to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines?” the Hatcher character said. Filipinos, especially the medical practitioners, erupted with fury for such a slur.
In the end, ABC had to douse the expanding conflagration:
“The producers of Desperate Housewives and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.
“As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs.”
This just shows that majority of Filipinos, despite their factional bent, can be united in fighting attempts to denigrate our race and that that, if we stand united, we can force even a major television network in the United States to back off.
What I found unfortunate, though, is the fact that a few of us missed the point. Instead of defending the dignity of Filipino professionals, they ranted about us deserving the insult and then citing examples, like the recent nursing board exam scandal.
Others questioned why Filipinos got so noisy about this “Desperate Housewives” episode when there were many other instances of our people being insulted in the United States. Others raised our propensity to be racist also.
Of course, these weren’t the issue. The issue was the racial slur in the September 30 episode of “Desperate Housewives.” Introducing other issues not only tends to muddle the effort to condemn the insult but also shows traces of the so-called colonial mentality.
I mean, let ABC and the producers of “Desperate Housewives” defend themselves. The last time I checked, those behind the show does not have Filipino spokespersons.
As for our very own propensity to be racist and our other weaknesses as Filipinos, let us tackle that in another forum. Maybe we can start doing that now that ABC has apologized and we are in the process of moving on.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, October 4, 2007