Saturday, October 6, 2007

Jon Stewart Labels Cory Aquino a Slut (Aren't All Filipinas?)

The root of this "parody" is the old stereotype of Filipina women as sluts and prostitutes that GIs brought back with them. That is the "sociology" of this "joke" skit which was mainly a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton, who, as Jon Stewart declares, "does not shave her chest, DODD!"

Well I've never liked Jon Stewart with his too smart alecky take on things and now he proves that he is not only glib and dumb, he is mighty glib and stupid too. The insult to Cory Aquino was not only personal, it was also baseless, considering her personal demeanor as a widow, mother and globally revered President and leader of her people. Her reaction was naturally annoyance, but Ms. Aquino had the grace to say on Philippine television yesterday that she was actually praying for the people on Jon Stewart's Daily Show. (Don't bother, Ma'm!) She bears no resemblance or affinity to anything that ought to become a joke on sluts. Unless of course it is meant to call all Filipino women sluts. I bet even real sluts would agree though, Cory Aquino is not one of them! I was very curious though that the dyed in the wool liberal moon bats on that Jon Stewart Show picked on Cory Aquino as the woman leader of the Philippines and not Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is the real...(censored by Bloggers' Privilege). I guess Political Correctness extends even to insults and an appearance with Bill Clinton recently may have saved President Arroyo from the fate of German Prima Angela Merkel, also lampooned on the Jon Stewart skit. Amazingly, conservative blogger La Shawn Barber makes a cameo appearance just before Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and Cory Aquino. [update: please see corrections to actual participants in the Comment Thread. hat tip to John]

There is nice Message Board up at Comedy Central on this incident where people are reacting.

The cheap shot on Cory Aquino follows the already humongous and still growing controversy over the season premiere of the hit show Desperate Wives (talking about sluts!), for which ABC TV's top honchos have already apologized and over which the Fil-Am community and its many allies are going to town. GMA TV News has a round up of bloggers.

Now this one is a lil different than Jon Stewart's totally gratuitous slur on President Aquino. It is the penalty all Filipinos are paying for that wholly scandalous Nursing Exam Leak last year, for which I don't believe the guilty have really been punished. The script writer at Desperate Housewives could not have utilized such a line if the scandal last year had not happened. While it is unfair and nasty to attack medical schools of the Philippines when those at fault were actually commercial review centers and government regulators, the damage to the reputation of all Filipino health care workers was really done by the exam leakers.

ABC-TV is reaping a whirlwind of indignation and even demands for restitution, even after the apology. I also think this is how waves of immigrants "melted" into Main Stream America (think of the Irish, the Jews, the Italians, the Chinese, the Mexicans)--under a hail of racial and national slurs. Hehe, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease in America. I'm pretty sure that Filipino American doctors, nurses and health care givers will all do just fine with Teri Hatcher and the Desperate Housewives. I am sure we'll even see Filipino characters in other television shows. With four million of them in the United States, and most of them of above average intelligence and good looks, success and prosperity will be the best revenge.

On the wackier side of this thing is of course Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who castigates the show Desperate Housewives for their racial slur, even as she just got done calling China the inventor of corruption for all of human civilization. Just a reminder that we Filipinos do live in glass houses too, and ought to see the log in our own eye whilst raising Cain about other people's hit-and-run tactics.

On a different note, check out Filipina Soul's post on Britney Spears and the lyrics of her new song which mentions the Philippines as a place to run away to.

Downloadable MP3But we also do our own satire and parody here at Philippine Commentary! So we ought to be able to take what we dish out.


manuelbuencamino said...

Desperate Housewives is make-believe fer crissakes.

The John Stewart Show is comedy. It called Cory a slut and photoshopped Thatcher's head on to Brittany Spears' famous shaved beaver shot. It was a segment on are "we ready for a woman president." Cory was not the target It was women leaders in general.

DJB Rizalist said...

Cory was not target, they all were, because the skit was really about Hillary Clinton and how much better she is than all these conservative women leaders.

Amadeo said...

Jon Stewart. Bill Maher. Jim Kimmel. All the late-night shows of the three networks. Comedy Central. And tons more.

Beyond the din created by the above genre, my overriding question has always been: How do people get the time to watch those shows?

I am between jobs and I only get to meet some of these people when they are featured or become guests in news shows that I watch. And even in the latter genre, I have difficulty keeping track of a good percentage of that type which is available on broadcast and cable TV.

People must have a lot of free and idle time to be able to allocate precious time to the likes of a Jon Stewart or a Bill Maher.

While many of those comedic-type programs do garner sufficient viewership to make them profitable to the producers, still the majority of the people simply do not watch them. Or said differently, simply ignore them. And that’s what people so inclined should all do. Ignore them!

They will all go away soon.

Does a tree falling in the forest make any sound?

viking said...


Jon Stewart has apologized, profusely. I've posted his explanation in my blog.

Amadeo said...

Sorry to appear jaded, but this appears to be yet another example of the non-apology apology. Where the perpetrator not only does not lose anything, he actually could gain. This stirred furor could translate to more viewership The same holds true to the ABC-TV mea culpa. Maybe the collective voices of the aggrieved victims have simply translated to an infusion or transfusion of an added season to the Desperate Housewives total TV run.

For it to count and to justify the furor raised, one ought to also be crass and additionally, be mercenary, too. Make the perpetrators hurt where it counts the wallet. How? Boycott and sue.

But if people find this too objectionable and painful, then I reiterate: Ignore these small-minded people. They'll go away and we won't be the worse for wear.

DJB Rizalist said...

Amadeo, you are right that most people ignore them. I do. But it was interesting how Ms. Bee, in the apology, basically tell's everyone to get a life, too. She's asking to be ignored as well. Good advice.

Now, because they are who they are, it is nonetheless interesting to see how political correctness curbs even...political correctness! hehe. Rodel Rodis in your neck of the woods, is making a heck of a lot more noise over the Teri Hatcher remark than the slut label on Cory.

Gabby said...

i have a question.

i've the seen the skit, and the idea is that samantha bee's character is trying to say that america shouldn't have a female leader. part of her 'argument' is maligning other great women leaders.

since this is a parody, isn't the obvious point to take away from this is: there is no reason to fear a woman president because there have been several great and effective women presidents in other countries....

Isn't this how parody should work? you are saying something bad/good to prove the opposite.

consider the comedy of stephen colbert. he plays 'conservative' on TV, to the extreme. The point is to show the silliness of the conservative position.

DJB Rizalist said...

I agree it's a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton. As jon stewart says, she doesn't shave her chest...

But I think good parody works when the portrayal "works" because "it makes ironic sense" Like the parody of Bill Clinton's face photoshopped into a stampita of Jesus with the Bleeding Heart.

But Cory Aquino as slut who overthrew a dictator?

And why didn't they use GMA?

john marzan said...

I watch the Daily Show for the interviews--tape it everytime along with leno, conan. yeah, he's a jerk for the left. did you see him make fun of hillary's cackle though? hah ha hah!

btw, i believe i've already seen that daily show episode re women leaders a few weeks ago with sam bee interviewing blogger lashawn barber (na colleague ni djb sa pajamasmedia, lol) did not think much of it. of course it's a stupid and juvenile joke and you should see the stuff they say about bush, hillary, rove, alberto gonzales etc. (the jokes on iraq aka mess'opotamia are not funny tho)

ang nakakapagtaka, luma na yang episode na yan, but why are we making this an issue only now? dahil sa desperate housewives?

(i'm sure kung sa pinas ginawa ito, hindi papayag si laguardia na maipalabas yan.)

But if we can force Jon Stewart to make an apology (with his tail between his legs), then color me impressed.

I guess like the "Arab street", we are slowly developing our own "Filipino street" after Desperate Housewives and now this.

Kill all the American comedy writers! behead those who insult Filipinos!


iirc lashawn (who's a conservative) said na she's not in favor of having a woman president dahil "less qualified" raw sila (oh, HOW CONSERVATIVE! and NON-PROGRESSIVE!) The daily show "agreed" with her by showing photos of former women leaders like thatcher, golda mier, cory and angela merkel in "embarassing situations".

I was very curious though that the dyed in the wool liberal moon bats on that Jon Stewart Show picked on Cory Aquino as the woman leader of the Philippines and not Gloria Macapagal Arroyo...

my guess is because between the two, cory's more well known than ate glo, who's a nobody oustide the RP.

john marzan said...

Isa pa, nobody would be offended and it wouldn't be much of a story if arroyo was the one in the comedy piece instead of Cory.

DJB Rizalist said...

I would be just as offended if it was GMA there. Because the real root of "Cory Aquino, Slut" is the ancient prejudice and stereotype that Filipinas are mostly sluts and prostitutes. What GI Joe brought back to America come back through the most liberal spokesman of political humor.

That's the real point here! Deal with it like that, and its far more serious to me because neither Cory nor GMA is actually much affected.

But every Filipina nurse is now a whore, eh? At least on future comedies" and "parodies"

As for La Shawn Barber, she may not have seen the whole skit before it was aired since she was merely interviewed for it. Lets see what she has to say...

john marzan said...

I would be just as offended if it was GMA there. Because the real root of "Cory Aquino, Slut" is the ancient prejudice and stereotype that Filipinas are mostly sluts and prostitutes.

well, thatcher's a slut too for wearin no panties!

DJB Rizalist said...

If you look carefully that wasn't her body. they photoshopped the faces onto bodies of Britney spears, heddy lamarr an dothers.

I don't think there is anything funny about it at all.

It is a far, far deeper insult against all filipinas than the greek dictionary with the cookies.

Gabby said...

hi djb:

back to your question, why not GMA?

its because, for the piece to work, they wanted to show female world leaders who are widely respected and beloved. GMA isn't.

They wanted to juxtapose that fact (great female leaders) with the image and word of 'slut' . Samantha bee's argument/joke/satire was that all these great leaders aren't great (in fact they are horrible!!!), so hillary (as a woman) shouldn't be elected.

The point then is the opposite -- is to say that hillary isn't bad as president, precisely because of these great female leaders.

This was even highlighted by the appearance of samantha of Sex and the city, who then pours water on bee and says "i'm ready for a woman on top" [because, if you are a fan of sex and the city, you'd know that the piece followed the format of sex and the city... i.e. carrie bradhow=samantha bee, etc...]

To end, the piece is about the fear people have of electing a female president. To highlight the idiocy of that position, you push it to extremes -- ie. "you are right! it is dumb, coz... look at Cory Aquino. She's a slut..."

...which of course is not true. everyone knows it, hence the joke.

This follows a similar formula as your jesus photoshop.

So my question is, do you agree that the piece was NEVER intended to truly disparage any of the great female leaders, but merely to highlight it?

Gabby said...

oh, to add again about the art of parody/satire, consider "A modest proposal" by swift, where he advises to eat street children.

that was not his real position, but he wanted to highlight children's awful living conditions at the time in ireland.

DJB Rizalist said...

Yes I do agree that the piece was not intended to truly disparage any of the great female leaders. But I don't agree that it was intended to suggest that people should therefore not vote for Hillary. Like I said, it was a campaign ad for her candidacy.

My main complaint is that the "slut" part would not have worked without evoking an old stereotype of all filipinas as sluts.

It's not a big thing if you think it's ok to abet stereotypes. Most people seeing the skit wouldn't even associate it with that, which is what makes stereotypes so insiduous.

For example, what do people who saw it think of even briefly whenever they hear the word "Filipina" or the word "slut", I wonder.

DJB Rizalist said...

Of greater interest to me are reactions like yours and Rodel Rodis, who castigate desperate housewives but not desperate propagandists like Jon Stewart.

john marzan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john marzan said...

sorry dean, but angela merkel was not part of the daily show joke. si golda, thatcher at cory lang.

DJB Rizalist said...

you're right! but what would be more interesting is who are the famous sluts whose bodies were photoshopped with the heads of the world leader ladies.

Rachel said...

If you actually bothered to understand the skit, you would realize the "slut" label is not an effort to degrade Aquino or Filipinos in general, rather was a tool to poke fun of Americans who still ask the question of whether the U.S. is "ready" for a woman President. Much like Borat isn't really trying to make fun of Khazikstan, Jews, or women, but uses racist and sexist comments as a mirror to reflect people's own stupidity and bigotry. It's called satire!

In this case, the "reporter" claims that America is not ready for a woman president because of all the "terrible" examples of past women leaders like Thatcher, Aquino, Bhutto, etc. Anyone who watches this and thinks that they are being serious just doesn't get it. In fact, they are actually fighting sexism, albeit in a satirical way, but you people are wrongly taking it seriously.

On the other hand, the comment on Desperate Housewives was NOT satirical, and was a direct joke at the expense of Filipino doctors. Can't you tell the difference?

Unfortunately, we will never be taken seriously if we have ridiculous knee-jerk reactions every time someone even mentions the Philippines in a remotely negative way. Please make a better effort to understand the context before going off half-cocked otherwise you just make us all look stupid.

DJB Rizalist said...

Thanks for the comment. But you seem to miss the point about the Desperate Housewives joke that that would not have worked as a joke either without the nursing leak scandal, which had nothing to do with doctors but damaged the reputation of the educational system here.

Regarding "slut" all I was pointing out is the "sociological root" of the satire in Aquino's case, which is that all Filipinas are sluts (from clark and subic days). The bigger point for me is that Jon Stewart as a liberal can be flippant (pun intended) and uhmm insensitive (though I hate such a mawkish term) as the people he criticizes.

Rachel said...


I'm not convinced that there was any underlying insinuation that all Filipinas are sluts based on some sociological root. I did not get that sense at all when I first saw the program, probably because I have no basis that Filipinas are considered sluts. Well, perhaps locally in Subic and Olongapo back in the day, but I have never gotten that sense that Americans in the U.S. have ever had this notion. Can you point to any historical or cultural references (book, film, TV show) other than Jon Stewart, where Americans consider or have portrayed Filipinas as sluts? I'd be interested to find out.

As for your bigger point, if you have issue with Stewart's flippance or insensitivity, that's fine. But I'd be careful about making the leap that Stewart is Liberal, Stewart is insensitive, and therefore Liberals are insensitive. I think his insensitivity stems from his being a comedian/satirist not his politics. Actually, Liberals do tend to be far more sensitive and thoughtful to race, gender, etc. than Conservatives.

Miresil said...

Like many have pointed out, the target isn't Cory Aquino. It isn't even Thatcher or female presidents/political figures in general. The target is those who think America is not ready for a female president, simply because they are women, in spite of their glimmering credentials. Hence, they chose women of high reputation, i.e. Aquino. I don't know why we are taking this very seriously. The truth of the matter is, Aquino being included in that list is a compliment, because it shows that people in the international scene have high regard for her and that women CAN be effective political leaders.

I think people reacted strongly against this because of the recent Desperate Housewives outrage. But I think this one about Aquino is different.

DJB Rizalist said...

Never said they meant to imply all Filipinas are sluts. Said the joke only works because there is that stereotype. Can't really name any other reference tv book or film that portrays them as sluts, but I think the stereotype does exist. If it didn't before, it might now, partly due to the reaction. Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know I'm not a cultural troglodyte or prude, and I dish out my own brand of satire and fun so it really isn't like that with me. this is a politically very neoconservative blog as most filipino blogs go, so i must admit i took on this issue because i really don't like jon stewart. I'm not one of those asking for restitution or anything like that as that is hardly realistic. But if I can convince even one other person that jon stewart isn't even funny most of the time, other than in the juvenile sense of a teenager showing me his pudenda, then that would be enough for me.

DJB Rizalist said...

miresil: welcome to philippine commentary. I agree that cory was not the target, and yes she ought to be held in high regard, considering that even TIME called her one of the 20th century's 100 greatest. Now I don't know if it was in this post or another but I have said that racial and national slurs seem to be the way Americans "welcome" the newest waves of immigrants--mainly to see if they are good sports and can take the same ribbing the ones who came before them did. Having lived in America for over 30 years, I know the Americans are really a wonderful and generous people. I'm one of them!

But it doesn't mean that even if we are good sports that we have to react meekly and mildly. Americans respect it when you show a little steam==just look both ABC and Jon Steward apologized profusely.

That's good, though I bet we get more of the same, only a lil better. Then acceptance..then integration, then we do it the burmese or whoever is next to melt in the American pot.

As explained above, yes the two issues are different...very different.

Marcus Aurelius said...

I have commented some on the Desperate Housewive's situation. I don't think that is a big deal at all, a thoughtless and spiteful comment from a fictional character who (from reports) is thoughtless and spiteful. People read way too much into it. I would be surprised if more than a few of my Filipino friends were aware of the nursing exam scandal referred to here, let alone the general American population (speaking of late night TV ever see Leno asking on the street Americans basic civics questions?).

I have just became aware of the Jon Stewart thing. A couple we know just returned from some time in Manila and he was asking about it and I did not know. I just keep pushing the remote button when I see The Daily Show (or its spinoff & those like it).

However, I think Stewart's gag is much more insulting and that is an inherent danger in satire that people do not see the satire and take it too seriously.

Commentary here has convinced me it was satire employed to pre-spin in the event Hillary loses. That is, they are trying to convince us the only way Hillary loses is if us rubes refuse to vote for a woman simply because she is a woman. Frankly, that is a steaming pantload.