On Racial Slur and Political Satire

22 10 2007

I saved talking about the Desperate Housewives until all the noise and strong surge of emotions have ebbed down partly because of procrastination and of pure laziness.

Well, like most women who have watched Oprah, I have become a fan.  Not only because I have good vibes about her but because she empowers women and encourages us to take control of our lives.  She’s the woman that I want to be.  She’s in a happy relationship even if  she’s not married.  She is suuuuuuppppperrrrr rich.  She doesn’t have so many hang-ups.  She’s true to herself and she never hesitates to own up her mistakes.  She worked her ass off to get to where she is now and have made dreams come true for so many people around the world.  She’s also like any other woman, or girl—she wants to look good, lose weight, look good, be heard, look good, talk about other people, look good—you get the picture.  So, everytime her show’s not on hiatus, I make it a point to catch every episode on TV.   I laughed and cried over so many things in her show.  It is also through Oprah that I learned about Desperate Housewives.  There was this one episode where she did a “scene” for the TV series.  Of course it wasn’t part of the storyline or of the aired episodes.  It was more like a mock episode. 

When I watched the first episode, I immediately became an avid follower of the show.  The show’s funny and it depicts the lives of women whose issues have never really been talked about much in public.  Like Bree, for instance, she is a typical OCD case.  She looks immaculate at all times, throws the best organized parties and events, aces at good manners, cleans every nook and cranny of their house, does all chores from keeping the utensils sparklingly clean to baking cakes to fixing any broken stuff in the house. Think Stepford Wives.  But deep inside is a woman who craves nothing more than a simple thank you.  She’s the broken soul behind the facade of being the perfect wife and mother in a seemingly perfect family. There’s Lynette who gave up a successful career in the corporate world to become a full-fledged high-strung, stressed-out mom of four hard-to-handle boys.  There’s Gabrielle whose oozing sex appeal has made Eva Longoria, the actress who plays the part of Gabrielle Solis, the most-searched celebrity in Google at some point.  She’s the former model who married for money but soon realized that 3-carat diamond pendants will never compensate for the absence of marital bliss.  So she turns to their young gardener, John.  Who could forget those sensual scenes with John and the episode where she had to make a quick dash from a party to mow the lawn just so John, a minor, won’t get fired.  And then, there’s Susan, a divorced mom, who acts like she’s the daughter.  She’s Lizzie Maguire, um, three decades after.  She has the penchant for making verbal and actual faux pas here and there, and attracts disaster the way honey attracts bees.  Of them all, she seems to be the poorest, the usually misinformed, the most naive and the poster girl for inferiority complex.  She trips, gets locked out of her own house naked, accidentally burns a neighbor’s house down and a whole lot more.  You get the picture. 

Then there’s Edie.  The woman that women love to hate and men love.  She’s the slutty neighbor who is into real estate.  She was originally a minor character in the series but later on went up the ladder to become one of the now five-lead cast.  And of course, who will miss Mary Alice Young.  The woman who killed herself in the first season but “lived on” to narrate the story of the people in Wisteria Lane, as if she’s just there, privy to all the secrets in the lives of the housewives who were her friends when she was still alive and who have remained loyal to her even after all the skeletons have been dragged out of the closet. 

Another controversial TV show is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Now, there’s a guy that I truly admire.  He hates George W. Bush’s guts, or should I say, butt?  He was accused of being a John Kerry buttwipe, that’s why.  LOL.  But anyway, the show is a political satire and like any other political satirist, he goes overboard about people, events, and many others but mostly on George W. Bush.  I love to laugh.  Ask my mom.  I’m a happy person, or so I tell myself everyday.  🙂  I will never forget the much-talked about televised “heated” exchange that he had with the anchors of the now defunk Crossfire.  My respect for the guy went up a million notches higher.  I have always had a soft [G-]spot for guys with ATTITUDE and those who are funny in a non-slapstick kinda way.  So The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is one of my favorite Comedy Central shows.  Well, of course, there’s South Park too.  But I got tired with seeing Kenny die at the end everytime so well, going back to Jon Stewart, he went to Crossfire, a CNN TV show with a debate format.  Just as I got tired of watching Kenny die at the end of South Park episodes, Jon Stewart went to the show when he got an invitation to be the guest for the day.  During the course of the discussion where he was criticized for ass-kissing then presidential candidate John Kerry, he told the anchors that the show was hurting the country and its people because of their “partisan hacks” and pleaded them to stop doing that.  He went on and said that claiming to be a debate show is akin to saying that pro-wrestling is an athletic competition.  Oh, and my favorite part there was when the overreacting Tucker Carlson told him that he wasn’t as funny in person as he is on his show to which Jon Stewart said, “you’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”  Whoa!  The full transcript of that episode can be found here.  I loved it when Carlson told him that he was being funny.  When he recounted his experience in Crossfire in The Daily Show, he said that he replied by saying something like, “I know.  But tomorrow, I’ll be back to being funny and your show will still blow.” See?  He rocks! Talk about balls—hard-rock balls!  Yeah baby!

Ok.  So while I have been hogging the phone and internet lines for my work and minding my own business, way before Manny Pacquiao won the boxing rematch with Barrera, two very controversial TV shows made it to the Philippines’ hitlist.  The two shows that I just talked about. 

Now, my first reaction the the scene with Teri Hatcher in it as Susan was to laugh.  It was funny and very typical of Susan.  For those who are regular viewers of the show would agree with me that the show, for all its hype, revolves around all kinds of discrimination.  If we cried foul because the Philippine med schools were mentioned, imagine how the Mexicans must have felt everytime the show goes on air!  I mean, Gabrielle and Carlos, Carlos’ mom, and even John,  depict Mexicans and Latinos, in a not-so-good light.  And of course there are those scenes that demean Japanese and Chinese.  We haven’t really heard China or Japan or Mexico react so vehemently.  But we did.  For one single line.  And we even dragged Teri Hatcher down with it.  The poor woman whose acting career is just a few inches away from the has-been house is just doing her job.  Reading her lines so as not to get “killed” in the story.  I mean, Teri Hatcher is no Shannen Douherty or any other i-dont-wanna-do-this-so-i’ll-walk-out actors.  The truth hurts and as Teodoro Agoncillo, a Filipino historian, said in his A History of Filipino People, we are the type of people who love making fun of ourselves and of other people but when we become the object of ridicule or even jokes, we go up in arms as if the whole world depended on it.  If only we can be that united and quick to action when it comes to more pressing matters that our country desperately needs.  We have showed our fangs and they saw them.  Saying unsavory things about other people’s race, age, religious affiliation or anything is unacceptable and yet we do it everyday.  I’m a Bisaya.   I am a promdi (a Tagalog contraction for “from the province”).  When I arrived in Manila in 1996, I spoke with a thick accent and I mispronounced words and even if I bagged the most coveted award in high school, I felt insecure when I got to college.  My classmates spoke very good English and wrote sooo goddarn well.  But I did not shrink and become invisible.  I frequented National Bookstore and practiced tongue twisters.  Really!  I wanted to become a better person.  And in my own little ways, I guess I have succeeded.  I may not speak the best English but when I do, you won’t even notice that I made mistakes.  Why?  Because I have become confident.  Because I practiced real hard.  And because I took ridicules as constructive criticism from people who have later on became my very close friends.  I did not graduate with honors in college.  But I left the university with my head held high knowing that I have done my best and no one can take away the things that I have learned in terms of education and in terms of real life. 

Because I am sexually emancipated, I don’t take sexual insults that bad.  I guess, I know where I stand and what the real score is.  I don’t have to prove anything to anybody.  Well, perhaps to the few people who matter, but not to the world.  But maybe, if I were a president of some country, I would feel and act differently.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart showed a picture of former Philippine president Cory Aquino with the word “slut” written on it.  The topic was about Hilary Clinton and what would happen if she won.  I mean, she’s doing very well in her campaigns because in a country that laughs at racial slurs, and prides itself for transcending racial and cultural discriminations, a colored multi-racial man like Barack Obama whose true religious affiliation is being poked at may still not get the “Ayes” because in real life, those who claim to be free from biases and prejudices, aren’t. 

I am not a fan of Cory Aquino but when I was only four years old, I remember that I was the only one making the L sign in a strongly pro-Marcos household.  You see, my father is a fiercely loyal friend.  And he has always been with the Nacionalista Party the way democrats will always be democrats in the US and republicans will always be republicans.  In Mindanao, news of corruption and oppression did not spread overnight.  So many people never really understood that well what was going on in the “cities”.  With the split of the Nacionalista Party and the death of Ninoy Aquino, provincial members of the party became confused.  My father, upon learning of the trouble up north, decided to support Doy Laurel’s  UNIDO–the pro-Cory arm of the Nacionalista Party.  I remember going with him to rallies and wearing yellow bands and making the L sign instead of the V sign.  I was happy and young as I was, I already loved the feeling of winning despite starting as an underdog.  If there’s one good thing that came out of the Aquino administration, however, it’s Jessica Soho.  She gained popularity because of delivering news live in the middle of crossfires.  I can say that my political beliefs have been strongly influenced by my father but when I got to college, I became a little bit aware of other things after I took the MKLRP–Maikling Kurso sa Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino  and the course on MLM–not the networking scam, but the incorporation of the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Mao.  After having been disillusioned by a lot of things, I began to build my own political line of thinking based on what I have seen, heard, read and experienced.  It’s never easy.  They say that one can never be neutral.  One has to take sides but I say, that depends.  There are things that are worth my time of day and there are those that simply don’t.  I have also learned that it’s ok to be selfish every now and then.  After all that I have gone through, not so many things can surprise me that much anymore. 

Cory Aquino became a totally different person after Cardinal Sin died.  I’m not sure what happened.  I know she does not take criticism kindly.  She may not look it but she can be a little bit rash.  Remember Ka Louie Beltran?  I mean, let’s say she did not really hide under the bed.  She could have hidden behind Joker Arroyo who took all the beating for the downfall of her regime.  But does that really justify a libel suit against a journalist for such a comment?  Now, her family’s crying foul for the “slut” term.  If it were somebody else in her family, I’m sure the reaction wouldn’t have been that huge but then again, political satires are plain satires.  And as the word means, it does not pertain to the truth.  It could be an exaggeration of the truth or a complete opposite of the truth.  I agree, being called a slut, be it a joke or not, is an affront to any woman regardless of whether it is true or not.  And being included in a widely watched show stamps it for posterity. 

So here’s my take on the issues.  The Desperate Housewives slip is definitely unacceptable but I guess the apology issued, albeit not that widely broadcast as the scene, is.  I guess we should take it as a challenge the way other people have made insults their springboard to betterment.  As for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, people know better.  I mean, let’s give our viewing public more credit.  People who watch political satires know which ones are just for laughs and which ones have an iota of truth.  Besides, before we cry foul, let’s look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we haven’t done anything similar in our lives.  But then again, that’s no excuse.  The broadcast media is perhaps the most powerful and most influential and with its great power comes an even greater responsibility. 

But that’s just my opinion…

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11 11 2007
Webcam movies » On Racial Slur and Political Satire

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6 01 2008
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