Watching dramas produced by fellow Asian countries—particularly South Korea, China, Japan, and Thailand—has been the favorite pastime of many Filipinos lately, especially since we've been on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in the most recent turn of events, an ongoing Chinese drama, titled Make My Heart Smile, has miserably failed at making its Pinoy viewers smile with its controversial pilot episode.
The Chinese drama, which tells the story of "how three young couples realize their dreams," premiered on the streaming platform iQIYI on February 6, 2021. A screenshot from its first episode, however, has stirred outrage on social media for a scene that commits racial slurs against Filipinos.
A netizen took to Twitter to flag the "very offensive and disrespectful" line mentioned in the drama, which featured the male lead insulting a female character by saying she "looks like a Filipino maid." Her now-viral tweet has garnered over 10.4K retweets, 6.4K quote tweets, and 68.2K likes as of writing.
The aforementioned episode in question shows a female character trying on different dresses. The drama's lead actor, Luo Zheng, then dismissively comments on her looks. He first tells her that she looks "like an aunt," and then proceeds to criticizing her second dress: "You look like a Filipino maid," he says.
Naturally, the said scene has irked thousands of Filipino netizens, calling out the Chinese drama for its racist remark. One user tweets, "Report 'Make My Heart Smile' C-drama. The audacity to degrade Filipino maids."
Another one chimes in, "Filipino maids are beautiful. They're one of the most hardworking people I know, strong and loving. They choose to fight every day and overcome all the hardships this world offer them [and they should] not be disrespected. They're beautiful and racists cannot change that fact."
Meanwhile, there were some who jumped to the show's defense, claiming that it was just a mistranslation and that the line was originally meant to say Filipino "maiden" instead of "maid."
Twitter user @riothyunsuk, however, stood firm that it was not a simple case of mistranslation, pointing out the exact Chinese characters used in the controversial clip and using them to make her point: "This is not a mistranslation...Why [do] some of the replies keep on excusing this racist drama?"
"Definitely not a mistranslation," Twitter user @the8musique agrees. "I checked on a Chinese search engine and saw that it is a commonly used term to refer to cheap Filipino labor (apparently it also has been used as an umbrella term for all South Asian labor)."
The social media outrage has since reached the attention of iQIYI, prompting the streaming website to issue a public apology and remove the said drama from their platform.
"We are aware of the growing reactions to a scene on the show that we have licensed—'MAKE MY HEART SMILE'—that puts Filipina overseas workers in a negative light. It is not our intention to offend and upset our Filipino subscribers and we are sorry. The show has been removed from the platform and we are continuously working towards making sure that incidents like this do not happen again," their official statement reads, as sent to Philstar.com.