Filipina Maid Scandal from BBC’s Harry & Paul
So what do you think of the latest racial slur to affect our Filipina maid? A BBC comedy show portrayed a Filipina dressed as a maid aka sex entertainer for a depressed and aging British man. The Filipina “maid” was also made to dance in front of the British man as two others were egging him to have sex with the Filipina.
Here is a youtube video of that scene. (View clearer video)
In fact, the Philippines is demanding an apology from BBC.
All right! All right! Calm down, calm down” was always enough to placate the constantly bickering Scousers on Harry Enfield’s 1990s TV show. But it may not resolve the diplomatic row the comedian sparked yesterday after the Philippine ambassador in London accused him of racism and making light of sexual exploitation.
In a letter to the BBC, Edgardo B Espiritu demanded an apology for a skit in the Harry & Paul show in which a posh southern character tries to get his “pet northerner” to mate with his Filipino housemaid.
“Such portrayal and stereotyping of Filipino women as domestic workers and sex playthings is not only egregiously insulting to the Filipino community in the UK, it is also very malicious and is a blatant display of racial prejudice,” wrote Espiritu in the letter to Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust.
The Philippine government also protested about the sketch, which was screened on BBC1 on September 26.
Congresswoman Risa Hontiveros demanded the BBC publicly apologise and called on the Philippines department of foreign affairs to file a formal complaint to the British government.
Foreign secretary Alberto Romulo summoned British ambassador Peter Beckingham to discuss the matter. But Beckingham said that any apology should not come from government officials but from the network and the show’s producers.
Yesterday Tiger Aspect Productions, which makes the show, said: “Harry & Paul is a post-watershed comedy sketch series and as such tackles many situations in a comedic way. Set in this context, the sketch is so far beyond the realms of reality as to be absurd – and in no way is intended to demean or upset any viewer.”
But a spokeswoman at the Philippine embassy said: “If Tiger Aspect intended the episode to be a joke, we were definitely not amused. Neither did the Filipino community in the UK find it amusing. The UK is a country that is big on human rights issues as well as issues concerning women and racial equality. To stereotype Filipino women … is not only malicious but is also a blatant display of racial prejudice.”
She added: “And just for the record, Filipino domestic workers in the UK command one of the highest if not the highest salary among their counterparts. They are highly regarded by their employers because of their work ethics and their trustworthiness.” An online petition, attributed to the Philippine Foundation, condemning the “disgraceful” skit, had 685 signatures by 5pm yesterday.
A BBC spokeswoman said that the corporation had not yet received the letter from the Philippine ambassador, but that by 3pm yesterday, 54 members of the public had complained to the BBC about the negative stereotyping of Filipinas.
She said that no one had so far objected to the portrayal of northerners in Harry & Paul, but that last month 41 people had objected to a sketch in which a kitten was stamped on..
The following is an account made by the Philippine Foundation on October 5 of the episode.
“On 26 September 2008 at 9 p.m., BBC 1 aired the comedy series Harry and Paul starring Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. The opening scene showed Paul seated on a chair on his front lawn, while still in his pajamas. A young Asian-looking female was shown gyrating in front of him in a lascivious manner. The postman arrived to ask Harry, Paul’s friend, what was going on. Harry told him that he is trying to see if his ‘Filipina maid’ can seduce Paul who obviously looks depressed.
Harry then continued to shout instructions to the young girl and to Paul to ‘hump’ the Filipino maid. He remained unmoved while the girl even played with his hair. On further instructions from Harry, she continued to gyrate sexually in front of Paul. Harry then instructed the maid to ‘present her rear’ which she did while wiggling her bottom in a seductive manner. The maid did not succeed in seducing Paul as he got up from his chair to go to his house. Harry shouted at the girl in an angry voice to leave as she was useless in doing her job. The girl walked towards the pavement looking upset. While walking on the pavement, the postman looked at her in a leering way and followed her. After catching up with her, he was shown to be whispering in her right ear and the girl then walked off with the postman.”
The result is indigation and an Online petition launched vs BBC on ‘anti-Pinay’ comedy skit.
Called Dignity and Respect for the Filipino Worker Campaign, the online petition stated that “the Filipino community in the United Kingdom hereby condemns the BBC and the Harry and Paul Show for their tactless and insensitive behavior and for inciting stereo-typed racial discrimination, vulgarity and violation of the maid’s human rights. The show demeaned the dignity of honest labor while promoting the sex industry, domestic abuse and maltreatment of the blue-collar worker that effectively sustains this economy.”
Though meant to be funny, I didn’t find it funny at all.
Edit- October 25,2008
BBC formally apologizes to RP
MANILA, Philippines — The British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) has formally apologized for a comedy skit that stirred outrage for portraying a Filipina domestic helper gyrating in front of her British employers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
The apology is contained in a letter dated October 10, 2008 from BBC Director General Mark Thompson to Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Edgardo Espiritu.
The episode of the comedy Harry and Paul, initially shown on September 26 and replayed on BBC 2 on September 29 had members of the 200,000-strong Filipino community in the United Kingdom protesting the “insulting reference to Filipino women, typifying them in a dual role as domestic workers and sex toys of their British employers.”
“Please accept my sincere apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the offence that this program caused you,” said the letter from Thompson, which the Philippine Embassy received only on October 20.”
The BBC apology was written a week before Andrew Zane, chief executive of Harry and Paul producer Tiger Aspect Productions apologized to Filipino protesters who picketed the BBC office in White City, just outside central London, and Tiger Aspect in Soho in central London on October 17.
“We’re sorry to anyone who was in any way offended by the program. This certainly was not our intention,” Zane told the protesters.