by Rachel Krueger
Amy Chua is terrible at jokes. She told one in early January about forcing her seven-year old daughter to practice piano “through dinner into the night” with no breaks, and no one laughed. The punchline is that the daughter got good at piano. Har.
An excerpt from Chua’s memoir, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, ran in the Wall Street Journal prior to the book’s publication, to the tune of over a million hits and 7000+ comments. Reactions ran from bemused to annoyed to sincerely pissed, but no one was like, “How droll.” When Chua appeared on “The Colbert Report” last week she protested, “It’s supposed to be funny. It’s a self-parody . . . It’s also about my mistakes and making fun of myself.’
But the excerpt doesn’t read like parody. Parody usually has a nod or a wink or an elbow in somewhere, to be all, “Fun and games, eh wot?”, but this particular section reads like a cold-hearted snake explaining how she is better than other moms. The title the Journal slapped on it, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” was not chosen by Chua, and she claims it does not reflect the book as a whole, but it sure as hell reflects the mood of the excerpt.
Chua professed surprise at the reaction, which means she is either an idiot or being disingenuous. Because this was a genius marketing strategy. Everyone is FURIOUS about the excerpt and showing their disapproval by showering it with links. Look at me now, adding to the pile. And I ain’t even mad at it.
In fact, I say kudos to Chua. She may have lousy comedic timing. But she has excellent business sense.