Emil Guillermo is a very sensitive American-Filipino journalist. So sensitive in fact, that he believes that the power of a juvenile below-average slapstick-comic movie can insult millions of people of a certain nationality, and rejuvenate a slur that has been buried for years.
I refer to Anchorman 2. If you know what that is already - congratulations, and if you don't...well, now you do.
So what has been said in this film to upset Mr Guillermo? Before I tell you, you should be aware that once upon a time, the Philippines had an unfortunate reputation for eating dogs. There! I've said it - horror of horrors!
Back in the 1980's the British tabloids (e.g. those esteemed organs of truth and justice the Sun and the News of the World) were full of front pages headlines about this shocking, "disgusting" practice. It was the Chinese and Koreans who were more into the canine culinary delights, but the Philippines got all the negative attention for some reason.
As you know, mud sticks, but in truth, this particular mud washed off long ago and very few people, if any, still regard the Philippines as a dog-eating country (if it ever was - and if it was, it would have been in very remote areas). The problem was galvanised with images of caged dogs in markets, being prodded and inspected for human consumption. I don't deny that didn't happen, and I recall even ten years ago seeing dead skinned dogs hanging in the market of Baguio ready for sale. I've not seen anything like it before or since, but I do know that they still do this in China.
The British of course, being a nation of animal lovers (and that's why the RSPCA investigated over 150,000 cases of animal cruelty last year, with prosecutions up by nearly 16%) adore their dogs, and any notion of them being consumed in the diet fills them with apoplexy.
They are also a nation of horse lovers, and they were equally apoplectic when the lid was blown off the horse-meat scandal earlier this year, when it was revealed that most of our processed meat (sold by the big supermarkets) was laced with equine derivatives anywhere between 10% and 100%, and produced by Romanian abattoirs and other eastern European meat processing factories.
Although this was rampant throughout Europe, the French were fairly sanguine about the whole thing - after all, horse meat is perfectly acceptable to them, as indeed are frogs legs and snails. If they were upset at all it's because the ingredients weren't displayed on the packaging. Food is a matter of taste, and one man's meat is another man's poison. I'm especially fond of foie gras in aspic jelly, but horrified at the method of delivery – but when in Rome and all that.....
So finally to my point (about time, I hear you mutter through a stifled yawn). According to Emil, who was in the audience drooling with the anticipation of hysterical laughter, 15 minutes into the film the line is uttered: "the only Olympic sport Filipinos are good at is eating cats and dogs."
This wiped the grin off Emil's face, affecting the rest of his enjoyment of the movie, and, indeed, he considers it a racist statement re-enforcing the stereotypical image of his country being a nation of canine chompers. He chose to vent his spleen about it with an article in the Philippines Daily Enquirer - just to highlight the insult further.
I've done a Google search and I can't find a single reference to this line, nor one person (apart from Emil) who suffered offence.
Yet he has managed to promote the film even more without merit; he's demonstrated his acute sensitivity; he's shown that we must be very careful what we say, because the Racist Thought Police are alive and well and ever eager to capitalise and exploit the merest innocent, ill advised, or accidental comment.
He's demonstrated the perceived insecurity surrounding the Filipino people, by showing that they can be so easily offended. He has shown how to make a pile of crap out of a dunghill.
But worse than this, which you may find hard to believe, but it's here in black and white, he has exploited the issue by suggesting that as an act of penance (I kid you not) the producers, cast and crew should atone by making a donation to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Egads!
Mr Guillermo, if I was a victim of that typhoon, I would wish a charitable donation to be an unsolicited act of kindness and compassion, not because of some stupid joke which you have interpreted in the extreme. If I was a Filipino, I would be ashamed that you were acting in my name, and I would be ashamed that anyone believed that your views in any way shape or form represented my own. Now that is no laughing matter!