El Bongnino

From ‘Hang Loose’ 24 June 2010, article by Germaine Lim in New Paper

PARODY breeds contempt.

The cast of the Channel 5 satirical variety show The Noose, now in its third season, is known for its exaggerated accents and comedic impersonations.

But some local netizens are unhappy over certain characterisations, particularly actress Michelle Chong’s depiction of female foreign worker Leticia Bongnino.

The charge: That Chong’s “fake pinoy accent” is “racist”.

Not a fan, but the Noose is essentially accent porn. Strip away the mockery and you have a run-of-the-mill hit-or-miss current affairs satire. Sometimes even the Malay actor exaggerates the Malay accent, which nobody seems to have a problem with, but if a Chinese exaggerates a Honkie accent, it becomes derogatory. Michelle’s impersonation is pitch perfect and it’s painful to know that honing your craft in what’s a linguistic impossibility for most people not only goes unappreciated but labeled a hate-crime. Maybe the pinoy community is still bitter that their favorite Orchard Road hangout has a gaudy retail behemoth built over and under it, which probably explains why they’re spending more time in front of the TV and complaining about the plight of domestic workers. As if the hot water scalding and bully-torture by employers isn’t enough, now they’re making fun of our language! More accent oversensitivity here.


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