Saturday, October 06, 2007

Desperate Patients

Filipino-Americans are up in arms against a popular soap opera over the racist quote of the character of Susan Mayer (played by Teri Hatcher) in the hit series in the U.S. “Desperate Housewives”. In the premiere episode of its fourth season, Mayer asked for the credentials of the gynecologist who examined her and told her that she was approaching menopause. She said, “Can I check those diplomas ‘coz I just want to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.” The episode posted on drew criticisms from the Filipino community on the Internet. Angry Filipino-Americans said they have written the show’s producer objecting to the “racist slur and demanding an apology.

Do American sitcoms shoot scenes extemporaneously and are script less ala Pinoy style? More likely the script dialogue was deliberate and specific. I strongly smell something fishy as the timing coincides with Congressional deliberations on the cheaper medicines legislation. The seedy reputation of Big Pharma raises suspicions, coming in the wake of the recent controversy between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) on breastfeeding, and their atrocious pricing policy.
One of the oligarchs of America alongside the Military and the Federal Government is Big Pharma, a component of Big Business. Holding a vital function in Big Pharma is the propaganda machine called Public Relations or PR with the primary mission to furbish the company image. Common PR practices are the (1) Astroturf referring to grassroots citizen groups funded by corporations or public relations firms, (2) Corporate sponsored front groups created or used by PR firms to appear as "independent" third parties, and (3) third party technique which has been defined by one PR executive as, "put your words in someone else's mouth.”, putting their words in the mouths of journalists by hiring reporters to write stories which favor their clients, or by funding tendentious university research which they then publicize as "proof" of their client's position.

The third method was apparently chosen with studied precision - a highly popular sitcom for maximum effect and a likeable spokesperson, Teri Hatcher, who exuded lingering heroine features from her previous role as Lois Lane of Superman fame. The allusion to mistrust of Philippine medical facilities is deserved following the hubbub of the Nursing exam leak and cheating abetted by the mishandling of the licensure by the Professional Regulatory Commission. And to top it all, the PR spin shows arrogant contempt for a corrupt regime. Funded with a bruited war chest of $1 billion, placing pejorative words in Hatcher’s mouth is no big deal

The Hatcher episode is just the first salvo of Big Pharma aiming to sink the cheaper medicine vehicle. The PR spin is expected to intensify and will not remain clean and mild, the stakes being extremely high.


Others view the “DH” incident from an acute angle, that it's good to find an issue around which Fil-Americans and Filipinos could get over their differences and finally unite (fractious Pinoys naturally disagree), but also pokes fun at onion-skin Pinoy sensitivity citing the sardonic racist humor of the soap has spattered other minority groups: taunted Latinos (larcenous, randy and hypocritically Catholic), African-Americans (criminal-minded), and Chinese (ignorant but grasping). Another says the producers are elated by the goaded attention, deserved or not, to boost waning interest. Racist brickbats have not been one sided.

Wasp Jokes

After successive waves of ethnic jokes it was inevitable that the harassed minorities would retaliate. A clever and anonymous cartel of these groups pooled its creative talents to produce the last word in ethnic humor: WASP jokes. Like its irreverent forebears, the WASP joke (the acronym signifies “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) pokes fun at the peculiarities ─ real and imagined ─ that characterize the WASP. These would include the innate predilection toward big business:

Q ─ What do you call six WASPs sitting around a conference table?
A ─ Price fixing.
Q ─ What is the WASP version of the Holy Trinity?
A ─ General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. (Note: Pinoy version is Caltex, Petron and Shell)
Q ─ What do you get when you cross a WASP with a chimpanzee?
A ─ A three-feet-high blond company president.
Q ─ (On his reading habits): How do you keep a WASP uninformed?
A ─ Hide his copy of Reader’s Digest
Q ─ How do you keep him misinformed?
A ─ Find it for him.
Q ─ How do you tell a WASP at a nude party?
A ─ He’s the one reading The Wall Street Journal
Q ─ (On his politics): What does a WASP consider the chief injustice in the world?
A ─ (Chief Justice) Earl Warren.
Q ─ Name a WASP war hero.
A ─ General Franco.
Q ─ What is the WASPs favorite tree?
A ─ Birch.
Q ─ Why do WASPs fear sunburn?
A ─ Better dead than red.
His putative narrow-mindedness is a rich vein:
Q ─ What do you call 144 WASPs?
A ─ Gross bigotry.

Q ─ What do you call a WASP in Alabama with a Jewish name?
A ─ Lonely
Q ─ Why do WASPs prefer to belong to private country clubs?
A ─ It’s their final solution to the Jewish Problem.
And his lack of love for his Negro brethren is a veritable mother lode:
Q ─ What do you call a WASP with a Negro roommate?
A ─ A jailbird.
Q ─ What is the WASP version of black power?
A ─ 50 Negroes pulling a barge up the Mississippi.
Q ─ Name the two Negroes whom WASPs most admire.
A ─ Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.
Q ─ What is an Alabama WASP’s version of The Late Show?
A ─ A jury taking more than five minutes to find a Negro guilty.
Q ─ What do you call a WASP who has a Negro for dinner?
A ─ A cannibal.
Q ─ What’s a WASP dove in Alabama?
A ─ Someone who calls for a halt to the bombing of Negro churches.
Q ─ What do you call a Mississippi WASP who participates in a lynching?
A ─ A social climber.
The WASP’s physical frailty is also fair game:
Q ─ How many WASPs does it take to convict a Southern Negro of simple assault?
A ─ 24: 12 to beat him up and another 12 to find him guilty.

Q ─ What do you call a WASP prize fighter?
A ─ Lousy.
So is his religion:
Q ─ How can you tell a WASP prostitute?
A ─ There’s a Bible next to her bed.
Q ─ What do you call it when a prostitute services a WASP client?
A ─ The naked and the dead.
Q ─ What happens when a WASP couple get to know each other well?
A ─ Divorce.

Racial Bias

Why are some individuals not prejudiced? Two University professors conducted a study to investigate how some individuals are able to avoid prejudicial biases despite the pervasive human tendency to favor one's own group. What is remarkable about the findings is that only seven percent did not show any racial bias (as measured by implicit and explicit psychological tests), and that nonbiased individuals differed from biased individuals in a psychologically fundamental way -- they were less likely to form negative affective associations in general.
The authors argue that although negative affect cannot be reduced by reason alone, it could be reconditioned through positive interpersonal experiences or exposure to more positive images of ethnics in the media.


Lester said...

After all that's said and done, I think we should still look at the big picture and realize that racial bias/discrimination is becoming less and less prevalent in the world. Some would say that credit should go to vigilant people, like the doctors who demanded for an apology from ABC for the "racist slur"/joke.

orly_habari said...

Racial bias is usually covert, but when overtly expressed, racial slur is motivated to draw attention. The issue therefore is to discern to what effect the statement was aimed at. Hatcher was a mere messenger and spokesman.