LOS ANGELES—A random comment made by Hollywood actress Lucy Liu on “The Late Show with David Letterman” has sparked a debate in cyberspace.
Did the Chinese-American film and TV star (“Charlie’s Angels,” “Ally McBeal”) intend to insult an entire country when she said she was careful not to look a “little Filipino”?
Netizens weighed in on the Inquirer website (www.inquirer.
net) and Twitter account (@InqEnt).
One jested: “Maybe she meant she might look like Pokwang.” (Filipino comedienne Pokwang has claimed that she is Liu’s long-lost twin.)
Another pointed out: “I’m singkit (chinky-eyed) but kayumanggi (brown-skinned). I’m proud of it and I’m not offended.”
Understandably, there were a lot of angry comments. This one was harsher on those: “Pilipinas, ang OA mo (Philippines, you’re overacting)!”
Out of context
In the meantime, Liu has apologized.
“I am so sorry that my comment was taken out of context, as I would never insult another group or ethnicity,” the actress told the Inquirer when asked to comment about her controversial statement as Letterman’s guest on October 11.
When the TV host asked Liu, who is shooting her new TV series, “Elementary,” if she enjoyed running indoors or outdoors, she replied: “I run on a machine—it’s easier for me. Also, if I get really dark, I’ll start to look a little Filipino. It wouldn’t match if I start getting darker, you know what I mean? I can get really dark if I’m in the sun too much.”
Liu’s remark quickly elicited criticisms and complaints in online blog posts and social media sites, for being “racist.”
In a statement given to the Inquirer through her publicist, Carrie Gordon, Liu explained: “Just to clarify, I was explaining why I do not run or exercise outdoors, as my skin tans very easily. Because I am presently playing a character with New York during the autumn/winter season as backdrop, it is important that I keep my look consistent with this type of environment.”
At press time, Liu has not answered the Inquirer’s follow-up question: Why she used the phrase “a little Filipino” if she had been concerned only about the consistency of her character’s skin color. Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson to Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes in “Elementary,” a modern-day take on the popular detective fiction series.—With a report from Bayani San Diego Jr.