Thursday, October 04, 2007
take your show and shove it...
just an fyi - i have a new post up at filipinamomsblog titled "take your show and shove it..."
(apologies in advance for how unbelievably pissed off i was when composing it...)
[steps on soapbox]
ok so, i'm late to this "party" (filipino time jokes aside), but i lost some sleep over this whole desperate housewives thing and i just had to get my $.02 worth of nonsensical rambling out because of it. and apologies in advance, to my fellow filipina moms bloggers for hogging our blog lately.
full disclosure - i used to be a big fan of the show... i used to watch it religiously. it was and is escapist entertainment. it is quintessential voyeuristic, trainwreckish, trashy eye candy on steroids. for a while, i actually felt like the housewives were kindred spirits when they complained about the constant daily grind of sahms over margaritas. but slowly and surely, the show started a downward spiral for me and has since jumped numerous sharks for me. i think i catch some episodes now in the hopes that it's redeemed itself. and then i read that susan's character opened her big (now, apparently ignorant) mouth and inserted her klutzy foot. and then, i got angry and went looking for fellow pinoy misery/camaraderie online.
i mean no disrespect but can i just say it never ceases to amaze me that when an issue like this comes up that so many filipino bloggers either ignore it or worse - defend it and then condescend to those of us who do care about it by virtually comparing us to fantasizing conspiracy theorists. by blogging thus, they excuse bigots and their remarks and even justify sophmoric and damaging humor. do filipinos/filipinos bloggers really want to be associated with or encourage racial humour where the punch line/brunt of the joke is the difference and/or assumed inferiority of a person of color?
i'm all for freedom of speech - censorship is not an option. but, free speech is a two way street. celebrities get to offend me on primetime tv with a "harmless (racially motivtated) slip of the tongue" and i get to petition ABC to see if i can get an apology (which by the way, was a non-apology apology - F*CK YOU, ABC). i want to help foster community building and open forums for diverse opinions, yada yada yada... but ultimately, these bloggers help to undo the countless hours of dedicated work of asian american activists and feminists in the second or two it takes someone to read their post. they encourage apathy, prejudice and ignorance, anti-asian racism, sexism and frankly, as an asian american woman, they embarass me.
all night long, i thought of all the negative stereotypes that desperate housewives perpetuates (shudder to think how it redefines that whole "ugly american" sterotype abroad) and it reminded me of something i read a while ago from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans. it is a list of "restrictive asian portrayals constantly repeated in the mainstream media". this morning i googled for the list again and found it here. some of the characters/character traits in the list are exact matches to asian characters/their portrayals in desperate housewives:
yao lin (played by actress, lucille soong) - the solis' housekeeper from season one. she wasn't on very long (she was fired after insulting gabrielle) but i distinctly remember that she was constantly wanting something from gabrielle - either for her to confess to having an affair or money or guarantees of money/barter for services rendered. she was definitely portrayed as someone inherently predatory. i don't remember for sure, but i think she also played the part with an accent perpetuating the foreigner who can't be assimilated stereotype.
xiao mei (played by gwendoline yeo) - the solis' second housekeeper who spoke broken english and was another neighbors slave and then, baby surrogate and then, homegrown homewrecker. she gave birth to an african american child due to a mix up at the sperm bank and has never been seen or heard from again. first, she was the perpetual foreigner who spoke little english and was constantly in fear of getting deported, then she was the model minority and then she was the china doll - exotic, subservient, industrious, eager to please, and finally, after learning from gabrielle that men in america didn't like virgins she becomes the dragon lady. she schemes and backstabs gabrielle by having an affair with her husband.
melanie foster (played by actress, joy bisco) - former sex crazed and obsessed girlfriend of matthew appelwhite who killed her after she threatened to turn his brother in for assaulting her. she's the dragon lady who gets sacrificed for the greater good.
vern - (played by actor, alec mapa) gabrielle's gay best friend who helps her with her new model training racket. once again, the asian male not only doesn't get the hooch. he's not even interested in the hooch. that's right hollywood there are asian males out there who are sexy and straight! they are our fathers, our brothers, our nephews, our husbands and our sons and they are just as delicious as their white counterparts.... STOP THE PRESSES!
in the end, why do i give a sh*t? Aren't there more important things to get enraged over like the war in Iraq or the disappearing benefits of legal immigrants? It's just a TV show right? These are just stereotypes, no one thinks like this in REAL life...
well, in my REAL life, i have a stepsister who was verbally harassed ("hey chink, stop taking away our jobs!") by a bunch of white men in broad daylight near wrigley field and was then dragged into and beat up in an alley. no one, who passed by the very busy intersection, came to her rescue when she screamed at them for help.
and like my sisters, cousins, friends, it's been assumed that i'm my kids' nanny, i'm "The" asian woman (we all look alike right?), that i don't speak english, that i'm good at math, that i'm a submissive partner in relationships but also naturally good in bed because my vagina is shaped differently, that not only will i do the work that's required of me but i'll do it for less money and never complain, and of course, that i often butcher and then eat dogs to celebrate big events....
already, my toddler children have experienced nuanced forms of stereotyping and prejudice. my guess is that it will on>THAT'S why i give a sh*t.
[steps off soapbox]ly get worse and worse the older they get. i'll be there to help them pick up the shattered pieces of the dream that was sesame street but it's by getting pissed off and militant and vocal about ignorant crap like this, that i'll know that i did my best, that i fought the good fight for them. that i actually tried to make the world a better and safer place for them to live in.
and elsewhere in real life, marie stephanie martinez was beaten on a bus just for "looking chinese" and joseph santos ileto was murdered by a white supremacist for "looking latino or asian". marie stephanie could have been my sister, my niece or my daughter. joseph ileto could have been my father or my uncle.