Why you should ignore the petition against ‘Harry and Paul’

Over the past few days, the Filipino community has been brewing a storm over Episode 4 of the ‘Harry and Paul’ show. It contained a short sketch featuring a Filipina maid which some people found offensive enough to start a petition.

I don’t watch the show but caught the clip via the BBC iPlayer service. Personally, I think that the those complaining missed the real butt of the joke and that the issue was being blown out of proportion.

It was not the Filipina maid who was being mocked. The target was the British class system and culture. The skit ridicules stereotypes of the dim-witted Northerner and the pompous upper middle-class Englishman. What you see in the ‘Harry and Paul’ comedy series are typical examples of British self-deprecating and satirical humour.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines satire as:
“the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticise people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”

You will find that this explains the comedy series perfectly. The same episode similarly pokes fun at Americans, South Africans and Russians, but above all, it mocks the latent stupidity within British culture.

Folks, this show is about British people laughing at themselves, not Filipinos.

As a community, we cannot overreact at every hint of perceived offence to our culture. We have more important things to be concerned about, such as the foreign national ID card. The National ID card and National Identity Register are serious intrusions into our right to privacy and freedom. For more information, please see no2id.

Edit: I’d just like to point out that these are my views. I’m not speaking on behalf of the Filipino community or anyone who is or has been associated with Phil-UK.

Here’s a clip showing the sketch:

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12 responses to “Why you should ignore the petition against ‘Harry and Paul’

  1. Mate, you are missing the point completely. Yes, it is a satire of the class and cultural bias of the ‘cotton-wool’ Englishman against his dour Northern counterpart, the north/south divide is a long-running joke in this country, however, to say this balances out the image of the stereotypical Filipino domestic worker/sex object whilst likened her to a breeding dog is not good enough. This depiction of the stereotypical Filipino woman is offensive to our mothers, aunties and sisters. It is a violation of human dignity and therefore in breach of Section 2 of the Ofcom broadcasting code.

    You do not speak for the community, Anthony, and you certainly don’t speak for our sisters.

    1. It is obviously wrong to equate anyone (Filipino domestic worker or otherwise) as a sex object or breeding dog. That’s exactly what the sketch is highlighting. It is showing the idiocy of certain type of Englishman, the kind that sees himself as superior to all those outside his social class.

      It is an exaggeration to show viewers the ignorance of this way of thinking. That’s why it’s satire.

      Of course, I could be wrong. This could simply be a misogynistic and xenophobic attack designed to get cheap laughs. But with the amount of political correctness in this country, this is unlikely.

      And yes, I’m speaking for myself. These are my own views and I don’t claim to represent anyone else.

    2. The point of the sketch is definitely to ridicule the very prejudices it is being accused of perpetuating. People enjoy getting into an unnecesarry lather over things so much that they rarely take time out to smell the misinterpretation! Yes, the maid was presented in a way that compared her to a breed of dog (as was the Northern English man, incidentally) but this attitude was not being encouraged. The entire sketch (it’s actually one of a series of sketches) presents the world as seen through the eyes of the upper-middle class Southern English man. Therefore, everyone other than him and his are viewed as no better than animals. The subtext of the sketch is clearly that these attitudes are disgraceful and, far from encouraging them, it is actually designed to ridicule and ultimately discourage them.

      To recap, then, the important point to remember when watching the sketch is that it is through the eyes of Enfield’s character, the “owner” of the Northerner. The best way to destroy ludicrous stereotypes and prejudices is to depict them outright for the ridiculous attitudes they are. That is the point here and, ironically, those who are fighting for an apology are unwittingly attempting to restrict one of the strongest tools for the achievement of equality: satire.

    3. I AGREE…BYPASS THE SATIRICAL QUALITIES…The petition must continue. I am soooo sick of the media’s role and misuse of this powerful tool to educate people —suppose to be; so lacking of sensitivity.
      I’ve just made a major complaint at work — I work in a school, a place where education
      of diversity should take place but…a coworker said to me “you’re a typical Filipino” –Now
      What exactly is a typical filipino? living abroad for more than 20 years Australia — UK, Japan.
      I have gathered that the women got this image- In my basket, it says: I’m a maid, I come from Ermita,
      I am opportunistic, Im a good dancer (with a pole – of course), Oh! not to be missed -“a mail order bride”…
      I used to think –it does not affect me because I grew up outside the Philippines, I’m educated, I’ve travelled, my nationality is not Filipino, I don’t hang out with the so called “typical” gossiping mail order brides etc. But —hey my NOOO! my ethnic background will always be Filipino. The ignorant in this world need education and I just met one at work who applied her ignorance at me on a personal level and it does hurt. Are there only filipina maids on this globe? NO there are Indians, Thais, Pakistani etc, There are mail order brides of all kinds too!! Above all prostitution is as old as humanity with all gender and race…. but why do I hear Filipinas being this way most of the time….I cannot fathom the cause of this, THE MEDIA, Do you think it’s a joke? NO! Filipinas have a set “image” propagated by the media. It is like as if the Filipino women are just a joke. After all these years, I can say “I wear the same colour and I am being painted with the same type of brush” wherever I go on this globe –I am so convinced of this now because I hear it all the time and I can no longer ignore it. By the way, the nurses who work abroad are not really called nurses –they are “first class maids”….and in Hongkong there was a sign that said “dogs allowed” “no maids”. Make this world a better place for all; we all would like to be seen in the light as an individual – to have done sacrifices to make life easier by taking all kinds of opportunities that comes our path. NO one and nobody on this planet deserve to wear a tag of this quality. I am deeply offended — good to know I am not alone on this —and it has to stop. Racial and gender – Stereotyping is a form of prejudice, do not be quiet about it. I would like an apology from the writers and producers of this show. And I bet the writers /producers have Filipino maids whose services is of utmost importance in their lives otherwise their houses will be like pigstys AND ABOVE all , perhaps they have children— being tucked away to bed with a lullaby sang by a dedicated humble FILIPINA maid. NO EXCUSES — FOR ANYONE WHO PRACTICE RACIAL AND GENDER STEREOTYPING FULL STOP!!! AND THIS IS JUST ONE OF THE MANY ROOTS OF THE GLOBAL PROBLEM WE ALL HAVE TO FACE —SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND DEGRADATION OF WOMEN….FILIPINOS ARE NOT ALONE HOWEVER —THE TRUTH IS WE MAKE MORE NOISE COMPARED TO THE JAPANESE AND THAI WOMEN.
      Thank you.
      Jasmin — still a Filipino – despite my nationality.

      1. well im afraid you have no complaint, firstly you should be complaining about the treaqtment of filipinos in your own country , noy worrying about a stupid comedy on tv, oh and by the way i am not against filipinos actually im a thick northermer and married to a a pinay whom i love very much, lets just stop all the moaning and deal with the real issues in this world…..ingat..

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  2. We should not ignore the petition.

    There are too many excuses being put into play here.

    At the heart of the matter is …. a scriptwriter, in his desire to score points for his show, wrote something which caused pain and outrage to filipinos. What his intention was in writing that sketch and dragging the filipino label into it …. is not important.

    The real point is the reaction ….. pain and outrage.

    Supposed intentions (excuses really, throw the dog a bone) could have been manufactured after the fact. Its just as plausible that the scriptwriter does carry the bias against filipina domestic helpers and is only now manufacturing excuses after the ‘shit hit the fan’.

    They even sound scholarly and educated in defending the sketch by treating it like a college book review and being clinical in it’s analysis but this approach simply, or conveniently dehumanizes the issue.




  3. hello

    Although I am not filipino my wife is and my children are mixed filipino/english… My kids are therefore second generation pinoys, I therefore feel that it gives me a right to post…

    There is a lot of racism in the british community against the filipino community. I took part in the white City protest at the BBC about the Harry and Paul episode in question.

    I feel that we should protest and deal strongly with any critism of filipino’s and the Philippines:

    This is the quote from an interview I had from the press association:

    Mrs Reed said: “I found it very offensive, we have a problem with sexual abuse in domestic work and because of the stigma involved the victims do not say anything.

    “We are asking the BBC to apologise for allowing the programme to happen.”

    She added: “We are all very upset and offended by the sketch.

    “Our overseas domestic workers are heroes in the Philippines, without them sending money home our economy would suffer. The programme really showed disrespect for maids and our community.”

    Malcolm Conlan, a 37-year-old first aid trainer, is married to a Filipina and his children are half Filipino.

    He said: “My family have been insulted and I am disgusted. The BBC have gone too far, they were trying to reinforce a stereotype of Filipina women.”

    Asked if he thought the sketch was racist, he replied: “It was sexist, racist and immoral.”

    Around 25 people gathered to protest outside the BBC in White City.

    A simultaneous demonstration was planned to take place at Tiger Aspect Productions, which makes the show, outside its office in Soho, central London.

    If you go on google and type in harry and paul malcolm conlan you will see racist comments from a certain football club and some of their supporters towards me, my wife and my family. This highlights the need for us all to be strong and protest for the sake of our children

    maraming salamat po

  4. For gods sake, grow up, its funny, its supposed to be funny – you know what to expect from these two – dont watch it if you dont like it – simples.
    I dont swear much, Im not racist in the slightest (as a Scot living in England is do know know about racism) but the “right in the middle of the road” sketch and “parking Pataweyo” are just the funniest things I have seen or heard for many years. If you want to compose online petitions then there are many more needy causes than hurt feelings.
    Im out.

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