What is our society’s obsession with child prodigies?

30 Nov

I have to reference this video again. It’s Mercedes Cheung playing Sarasate. However, this time, I’m going to be drawing a comparison between that and this video I found of Brianna Kahane on Ellen.

This will be my once-a-month-speak-from-angry-Asian position post. I know I’ve said some not-so-nice things about Mercedes’s playing, but Zigeunerweisen is a lot more challenging than Vivaldi’s Concerto. Two things come to mind. 1) Brianna Kahane is probably more along the lines of my “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” philosophy and is, in fact, playing something that suits her skill level at this point in her life. However, in terms of impressiveness, 2) shouldn’t Mercedes Cheung be on Ellen? I mean, a 6-yr-old playing Sarasate and Paganini is pretty darn impressive, especially since, you know, she really is playing it. Ellen’s show, being the huge mass media outlet that it is, has the capability of rocketing these kids into the public’s eye. So who does she (or, her producers) pick? Not the one with the Asian face, that I can say.

It’s obviously a lot more complex than just this, but that’s all I can come up with at 2 in the morning after 6 days of an almost non-stop cycle of work/eat/sleep/eat/work/coffee/dogs repeat many times.

Ironic that I still blog about this when I want to academically get AWAY from all this race politics and speaking from a position of repression and defensiveness thing I feel like I have to do when talking about Asian American issues. My thesis will be looking at the race of classical musicians, but I think it’ll be on a more global level and will deal with issues of cultural imperialism rather than race dynamics. Obviously lots of overlap here, but I think it’s different than speaking from within a framework in which these struggles over racial inequality have been written into our history. I’m hoping the position I take can be not-so-angry-and-repressed, and look at it more meta-ly (see, I told you it’s late – or, rather, very very early).

How the heck did this turn into some weird introspective thought process of my academic path?

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Posted by on November 30, 2009 in Uncategorized


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