Weirdest Asian Stereotype

Food for Thought

Many Asian stereotypes are true. Most of them have reasons, and many have good reasons. For instance, why are they so obsessed with Harvard? The benefits of having an Ivy League education is pretty obvious in certain fields, like politics. And, because of the so-called “bamboo ceiling,” having any leg up is helpful for Asians in the US.

But, one stereotype has always baffled me. Why do Asian parents pressure their kids to take lessons in classical music and dance? It is the weirdest Asian cliché. Recently, I saw a scene in a documentary where the camera panned across the classroom at the Juilliard; I think it was like 90% Asian.

Obviously, the reason is not that it’s a good career. Since music is consumed mostly as recording, we only need a handful of best performers for each instrument in the entire world. I’m sure the vast majority of these kids do not become professional performers, and I’m sure the parents know it too.

If the point is to teach kids self-discipline or develop grit, why not just force them to clean the house?

If the point is to develop artistic skills, why aren’t there any Asian parents forcing their kids to take painting classes? Visual skills are much more versatile and useful, and have more longevity.

And, why classical music? Why aren’t there any Asian parents forcing their kids to take electric guitar lessons? In college, it would help them make more friends (and get laid). And, why ballet? Why not other more popular forms of dance, like hip-hop?

Furthermore, what baffles me is that classical music and ballet are traditional Western art. It would be understandable if they were pursuing more modern, avant-garde music and dance since they are beyond East versus West at this point in history. Wouldn’t it be weird if suddenly a whole bunch of white parents began forcing their kids to study traditional Chinese music?

I’m not saying Asians shouldn’t pursue anything Western. It’s just weird to see so many Asian kids study old, Western art for no apparent reason. If you have to do it, why not avoid the cliché and do Irish stepdance or something?