Tiger Mother Amy Chua Speaks…To Me!

One of my blog readers took the liberty of sending my video on Amy Chua's book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", to Amy Chua herself! I never would have done this on my own, but that's why I put my stuff out there for others to read! Here's Amy's email which was sent to that reader, Denise.
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2011 08:36:51 -0500 From: Amy Chua Subject: Re: FW: The Music Within Us Dear Denise:  Thank you SO MUCH for sending this to me -- and yep, Lisa totally got my book and yep, she is totally right that no one else has!!  (Only correction is that I never choose or even saw and never would have approved the awful WSJ headline..) I think Lisa is BRILLIANT, and I love what she says and the passages and moments she singles out.  She even gets it about my dogs!!! I am setting up a website for my book, partly because to try to correct misunderstandings, and I will post this video.  Please feel free to share all this with Lisa! Best, Amy
I am not posting this so that you can read something written by a published author calling me "BRILLIANT". Although that's nice and all, the reason I am posting this is to encourage you to GET INFORMED before you form judgments and opinions and join in the fun of media-generated controversies. Form your own thoughts and opinions, reflect on your own life, and learn your own lessons. Do not stop at what the journalists and media or others are telling you. Do not believe what others say until you have questioned it with your own body, mind, and heart. Know that you are always free to create your own story.

News or Entertainment?

The "awful" Wall Street Journal headline Amy's referring to, which drew so much attention to the book, was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it generated huge amounts of controversy, and therefore discussion. On the other hand, it was a misleading excerpt that did not reflect what the book was actually about. After I read it, I laughed at the overwhelming number of "news" reports that interviewed Amy solely to ask the question, "So, are Chinese mothers really superior?" Anyone who has read the book would know that this is not what it's about. A more informed journalist might have said, "Amy, your book actually had nothing to do with arguing for or against the superiority of Chinese parenting. So why the misleading headline in the Wall Street Journal?" But that would require a journalist whose incentives were actually aligned with informing people of the truth. It reminds me of something I learned a few days ago on a call with a news producer for one of the morning shows on a national television network (hint: not "yesterday", and not "tomorrow"). She was teaching a group of life coaches how to pitch a news story and try to get more exposure for ourselves and our businesses. The summary of the call was, "Keep in mind that on television news, we are not trying to inform people, we are trying to entertain. Our objective is to produce television that will keep audiences from changing the channel so that we earn dollars from our advertisers. We want something controversial, and we want something that everyone is talking about. If you can't package your story to meet those criteria, we're not going to be interested." I appreciated this very candid look into the mind of a "news" producer. It's not often that someone from within the corporate ranks of the entertainment industry will share information like this so openly. Maybe I expect "dirty little secrets" like this to be kept behind closed doors, so that we'll keep tuning in and watching television and generating advertising dollars to pay the bills for the national networks. But think about what she said for a minute. Isn't she saying that everything created for television news is motivated by entertainment value, controversy, and popular opinion? And weren't we taught at some point (in those halcyon days of our youth) that news was supposed to be objective, fact-based, and devoid of personal opinion? Our world has changed. We have collectively created an environment in which there is no respite from sources of entertainment. It takes even more self-discipline in this kind of world to think clearly, independently, and creatively. At the very least it requires a heightened awareness to realize what we are consuming, when we're told something under the guise of "news", when we're being entertained versus being informed. Is it news, or is it entertainment? Can you tell the difference? It's up to you.

Tiger and cub photo by Keven Law, used under a Creative Commons license

Amy Chua book photo by the author

7 thoughts on “Tiger Mother Amy Chua Speaks…To Me!

  1. Max

    Hmmm. Maybe it's news, maybe it's entertainment, maybe it's both – what it certainly is is an excellent way to get folks stirred up and buying books.

    Reply
    1. drlisachu

      @Max, probably all of the above! I definitely bought one copy. And plenty others have too. It's just interesting to me that of all the reviews in so many places in the internet, so few (if any) even began to talk about the actual book. It's well-written and entertaining, even if you exclude the first chapter, which is where the WSJ excerpt largely comes from. My point is, this kind of marketing seems to assume that the consumer cannot handle complexity. Maybe that's true too.

      Thanks for reading…

      Reply
  2. acleansurface

    Journalism has been SENSATIONAL (I am using the meaning of "intended to cause a stir", rather than the common usage of the word to mean "fabulous") for many generations. I do hope that someday we can find the right balance and make it both informative and entertaining, not one or the other. I still have not seen your original video on the book, but I look forward to it soon.

    Reply
  3. Rebecca

    I think it’s time for me to get a hold of (and read) Amy’s book. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Media will continue to dish out the “sensational” (as acleansurface refers to the word) as long as people stand in line hungry for it and willing to buy it.
    Lisa, I love the pic–with all the highlighted pages of the book. 🙂

    Reply

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