It's been more than two weeks now since author Amy Chua's essay titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" appeared in the Wall Street Journal, prompting an uncountable number of news stories, columns, blog posts, essays and assorted reflections on the take that Chua, author of the memoir "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," presented on raising her two daughters.
Her description of extreme-tough-love child rearing, which she associated with her Chinese American background, was meant to be self-mocking, Chua has said in interviews, but no matter. In the past couple of weeks, parenting experts have excoriated Chua while others have defended her, while others still have cannily pointed to what lurks behind the racial stereotyping of Asian parents and successful Asian American students.
In the end, part of the Tiger Mother controversy's legacy will be the voluminous amount of work it has spawned: some of it forgettable, some of it quite good, and as with similar media phenoms, a torrent of comic art to help take the edge off.
Among what's appeared since Chua's essay was published:
- An alternately funny and cringe-inducing animated video with English subtitles (there's also an English version), replete with a frying pan vs. rolling pin battle of the mommies and a girl playing violin while standing on hot coals.
- A Twitter hashtag, #yourtigermomhatesthis, which appeared last week and produced these gems:
YOUR COLLEGE (IF IT IS NOT NAMED HARVARD) (from @jazzagold)
PRIVACY (which is why she read your diary) (from @disgrasian)
staying out past 11pm, even though you are in your thirties (from @MissAsiaAmerica)
YOU GETTING A TAN (which makes you looks like "a peasant") (from @disgrasian)
- The Tiger Mom Rap from New York comic Jen Kwok, which begins:
Yo, I’m the tiger mother
Hardcore parenting like no other
But I’m also a professor at Yale
And I got a crazy ass new book on sale
Talkin bout how Chinese mothers are superior
Rest of ya’ll with Montessori are inferior
- The "Song of the Manatee Father," a tongue-in-cheek essay singing the praises of slacker fatherhood by Forbes' Quentin Hardy. An excerpt:
After years of rigorous near attention, I come downstairs each morning and Bob has surrendered his day’s consciousness to Failblog. Cathy is typically IM-ing mash notes to the guy in Hyderabad who writes her term papers, or pining for a career in reality television. Our government, in cooperation with the Zynga company, recently awarded them price subsidies to slow their production in Farmville. Both plan to study Law.
- And of course, the memes. There's the Tumblr Tiger Mom Says ("Ignorance is bliss? Not in this household"), along with another Tumblr that was around before the controversy, High Expectations Asian Father, which has received new attention after getting a mention on the former.
The women's blog Jezebel recently criticized some of the phrases on Tiger Mom Says, a few of which mimic an accent, as occasionally racist; it's hard to know who is generating them, though at least a couple of known Asian American writers have posted some.
No word on whether Amy Chua is laughing over any of the Tiger Mother-inspired comedy, but I would guess she's gotten a few snickers out of it. Meanwhile, she's packing book signings, comfort enough.