Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Harry and Paul... starring the Filipina maid

Media and minority groups
While I am struggling to write a reaction paper for the media and minority forum I attended the other week, I fittingly stumbled upon comments through blog posts and in Youtube that are now reeling over the sketch of a Filipina maid in the British comedy 'Harry and Paul.' International (e.g., Sky and BBC, and IHT) and Philippine (e.g., PDI) media websites have also picked up the issue.

What went wrong?
The offending (or is it misinterpreted?) scene that stereotypes the Filipina as a maid and even worse, who can be requested to do sexual favors as part of their tasks, struck a sensitive cord to many a Filipinos. Majority of the comments I've browsed through can be categorized into two: those who say that the British humor didn't register to Filipinos (I do like and get the Peep Show!), and on the other hand, obviously, the BBC erred in portraying such a stereotype. While some argue that the maid wasn't the butt of the joke, but mentioning the word Filipina made all the difference.

I am curious of what the scriptwriter was thinking as he or she wrote that single line that ignited the fury of my fellow people. Did they let the script 'sleep' and have it undergo 'cultural sensitivity control' first before giving it to an actor? Did they think of the repercussions of referring to a particular ethnicity? Was it a tasteless slap-stick and marketing strategy to gain viewership, or an unintentional editorial misstep?

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