A procession of stereotypes

A few eyebrows were raised yesterday after the South China Morning Post published a story about a five-year-old Hong Kong girl whose mother is rearing her to be some sort of dance/musical genius. The family spend over HK$36,000 a month on schooling and tutoring for the kid, who has won dozens of medals for singing, piano, harp and golf, and is about to qualify as a brain surgeon an assistant dance teacher. The mother, who frets that a prestigious American boarding school seems unimpressed with the prodigy’s attainments, continuously buys dresses and matching handbags for the little girl, who is monitored by CCTV at home when the parents leave her with the maid.

Judging from the photos, the little mite seems perfectly happy and even well-adjusted, so perhaps this is a tale about the resilience and adaptability of human infants. The mother and father, however, do look slightly scary. Everyone criticizes overly-driven parents who force their offspring from age 18 months to prep for interviews at ultra-competitive, elite, exclusive, bilingual kindergartens, plus Photoshopping: the sadists are denying their little ones a normal, balanced childhood. But perhaps it is the parents – typically the mother – who suffer the most. The sacrifices in time and money, and the sheer effort in overseeing non-stop studies, homework, tutoring, music practice and all the rest, must take at least as big a toll on an adult than on the kid-victim.

Meanwhile, New Republic reviews Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother author Amy Chua’s latest tome, The Triple Package. The book apparently seeks to recognize and explain the superiority of Cubans, Nigerians, Mormons, Jews, Asians and a few other groups we hadn’t previously realized were so amazing (no disrespect to Lebanese and Iranians intended, and I’ll bear it in mind in future). Chua and her co-author/husband contrast these with two rather predictable American populations renowned for their underachievement: African-Americans and people she terms ‘Central Appalachians’. This presumably means inhabitants of Kentucky and West Virginia, which would include various family members of mine – all banjo-playing retards in log shacks, of course. Anyway, the reviewer puts it far more eloquently than I ever could by describing Chua’s works as ‘instruction manuals in how to be a rich, arrogant, miserable asshole’.

Chua praises Nigerians for having the fine qualities that US-born Blacks and the white trash up in the hills lack. And this sort of leads us rather neatly to the latest from Wanchai: crazed mobs of giant Negresses tearing expatriate men into little pieces and stuffing the bits into the garbage. (Hey – it’s either that or cows suffering levels of stress comparable to that created by inter-planetary travel, according to the Lantau Buffalo Liberation Front, who are surely qualified to say.)

Has any SCMP story ever dwelt so much upon the phrase ‘powerfully built’? It is as if the reporter has suffered a life-altering trauma – which, having stumbled across devastating intelligence about the existence of ferocious, amply-proportioned African ladies in our midst, is perfectly understandable.

The expatriates being mutilated and squished into waste receptacles appear to be drunk, and connected with the perpetually tiresome Rugby Sevens, which means they may not even be Hong Kong residents at all but visitors, and therefore not ‘expatriates’ (or at least not from the Big Lychee’s point of view), though then again, some probably are from, say, Discovery Bay. So perhaps the SCMP reporter, in his state of extreme shock, accidentally started to use the word ‘expatriate’ to mean ‘white’, even though extra-large African ladies who make their living here are surely ‘expatriates’ too.

I was about to look to Amy Chua for an explanation. But then – just a thought… These appalling people are all intoxicated, and quite possibly very confused. So how do we know the giant and very strong ‘African women’ are not in fact (say) Fijian rugby players, of the sort who might not take kindly to some incapacitated gwailo mistaking them for females, and ones of loose morals at that? It would explain everything. I bet the cops haven’t even considered it.

I declare the weekend open with the thought that, if it should be anywhere, the phrase ‘powerfully built’ should be in the SCMP’s story about the Lantau extra-planetary bovines – and yet it doesn’t appear once.


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