MANILA, Philippines -- Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan came under fire from Filipinos when a clip of her joke on the BBC Two show “Mock the Week” went viral on social media.
In the segment “unlikely lines from a cosmetics commercial,” Ryan said, “We don't test any of our products on animals. We use Filipino children.”
Netizens quickly reacted, calling the joke racist, tasteless and insulting.
"Is this how wealthy countries bullied us Filipinos? It's not funny at all! The Philippine government must watch this and take a quick action regarding this matter! Stop racism and bullying!" wrote Jerico Siguido on Facebook.
Samuel Sayawan, on the other hand, said the BBC management should have spoken with Ryan. Diane Pascual, meanwhile, said BBC should be held liable for the comedian’s joke.
Other posts shot back at Ryan, saying that she should be the one the cosmetics are tested on, and not Filipino children.
“This made me mad,” tweeted news anchor Noli De Castro’s daughter, Kat De Castro.
Blogger Nica Bells also wrote, “I believe that the joke was racist. I want to stress out a question that was left hanging: Why use Filipino children?”
Just a joke
However, others said those who took offense should look at the topic and the nature of the show itself, instead of reacting negatively.
"Ddin't you see the topic? 'Unlikely lines from a cosmetics commercial' isip-isip din pag may time," wrote Xtian Sabs in response to a post by Angelo Delima on Facebook sharing the video, which he said was "not funny at all."
On YouTube, user kasumi real shared the definition of the word “unlikely” to say the joke should not be taken seriously.
User xyr enc said on YouTube that Ryan’s joke should be a lesson to Filipinos: “I always see my fellow Filipinos insult others, making fun of Filipino minorities like the Aetas, Badjaos, Negritos, and all other ethnic minorities in the Philippines. Now most of us would react just because of this joke, to the point that they insult Ms. Ryan, the BBC, and the United Kingdom as a whole. I want to ask my fellow Filipinos: How does it feel?”
On Tumblr, the-infamous-me posted “An Argument In Defense of Katherine Ryan,” saying, “even if you argue that Ryan’s joke still was in poor taste, it was delivered in such a way that it should have been impossible to perceive as anything other than irony.”
“If anyone should be offended, it should be cosmetic companies or, in fact, any other company that takes advantage of the poor, the weak or those with limited options. Then again, they probably won’t have time to be offended as they’re busy exploiting Filipino children.”
‘Watch the show’
In response to criticisms, Ryan posted on her Twitter account @Kathbum, “It was UNLIKELY lines from a cosmetics commercial. *UN-LIKELY*. You'd be very unlikely to hear that. Because it would never happen.”
Ryan also said the people criticizing her should watch the whole show to get perspective and context.
To blogger Mark Pere Madrona (@FilipinoScribe), Ryan said, “You might feel that I was criticizing the EXPLOITATION of children. The joke is never, ever ON children. Watch the show.
Ryan said the clip of her joke on YouTube is “out of context without understanding the full nature and tone of the program.”
To De Castro, Ryan replied, “I have jokes about my own child. I'm genuinely sorry to upset you but the joke wasn't ON Filipino children or any children.”
Ryan also said that her joke is about companies who exploit “adorable” Filipino children.
According to the BBC website, "Mock the Week" is a comedy show combining the best elements of panel show, stand-up and improvised games with two teams of comedians taking a satirical swipe at the news and world events.
It is aired on BBC Two in the United Kingdom. Aside from cosmetics commercials, the episode aired on June 14 also featured comedians making mock of issues of health, parties, history, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, gay marriage, and "Britain’s Got Talent," as well as “unlikely things to hear on Doctor Who.”