The Only Thing I Will Say on the 'Chinese Mother' Debate

By James Fallows

I won't link to Amy Chua's notorious "Chinese mothers are best!" essay, since the Internet is already nearing collapse from incoming links to it. I will say that I have assumed all along that the essay must have been planned and written as a to-the-limit self-satirizing joke. I choose to think so because (a) that way the author comes across as slyly Swiftian rather than as an incredible asshole, (b) I've read and liked Amy Chua's other works, on economics and politics, which makes me hope the "slyly Swiftian" interpretation is true; and (c) I have seen enough actual Chinese mothers in China to recognize that her caricature describes a little tiny piece of (distorted) reality. (And, yes, I know she's writing about ethnically Chinese mothers living someplace else.)

ChineseMom.png

But in keeping with my "we should all appreciate the artfulness of this joke" interpretation, I turn of course to our friends at NMA TV in Taiwan, who have prepared one of their famous computer-generated renderings of the Battling Mothers Smackdown. It is here and is the source of the screenshot above -- in which the violin-practicing daughter is standing in a tub of burning coals -- and the embedded video below. It's 90 seconds long, and well worth it in my opinion.

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