First up was James, an Asian American man married to Roseanna, who is half Mexican and half Irish. Roseanna complained that her husband was controlling (won’t let her have her own money, monitors her communications), racist (thinks Asians are smarter than other races), and sexist (expects her to be obedient). She was afraid that he was raising their son to demean and objectify women.
In the video introduction before the couple sat down to talk, James said “If my wife does not like my rules, I would encourage her to leave. Dr. Phil, how can I not have my wife challenge my authority in my home?"
Very nice. Way to enforce stereotypes of Asian men as domineering and sexist on national TV. It also didn’t help that James spoke like an unfeeling robot.
James defended himself by saying he was not a bigot because he had been married to a black woman for 17 years and had 3 half-black children. Sounds like a variation of the "I have friends who are black so I can't possibly be racist" defense. Newsflash: just because you have friends and family of another race doesn't mean you can't be prejudiced. Exhibit A: Asiaphiles who marry Asians.
The next segment was very brief and about eyelid surgery. On the pro-surgery side was an Orange County surgeon and one of his patients who had the surgery to put folds in her eyelids. On the stop-buying-into-whitey’s-idea-of-beauty side were 2 people only identified as Deanna and Martin. I recognized Martin as the publisher of Giant Robot. But I bet most people watching the show aren’t as up on their indie magazines. Sheeesh Dr. Phil, is it really that hard to take a second to establish the credentials of your guest? Isn’t it helpful to know that your guest is the editor of a magazine about Asian culture and not just some dude you pulled off the street?
The woman who had the surgery, Stephanie, explained that she was ashamed of the eyes she was born with and wanted to look more like the people she saw in magazines. In other words, she wanted to look more white.
Oh Stephanie, you are a sad, sad girl.
At least the segment ended on a good note. Dr. Phil then called out a Filipina who worked on his show. The staffer, Chastity, said that her family members wanted her to get a nose job to fix her flat nose, and that when she was young, they would even pinch her nose in the hopes that it would gain more height.
Dr. Phil asked if she was going to get the surgery.
“I’m fine. I’m good with the way I am,” she said.
The last segment was about an Italian American who wanted a nose job to reign in his huge nose. His family was against it.
So, issues like the controversy over eyelid surgery are making it out of ethnic magazines and on to mainstream TV. It's like the talk show world has suddenly discovered eyelid surgery. If I recall correctly, Martin was also on the Tyra Banks Show not too long ago discussing the same issue. Is it better for Asian Americans to be airing our disagreements on TV rather than not being on TV at all? I guess so. I really could have done without seeing this James guy though. I thought his appearance was damaging to Asian American men. (Where do they find these people anyway?)
To read the blow-by-blow of each segment, click here.