February 1, 2006

It's Getting Hard To Keep Up With The Chinese Nanny Trend

From the news, you'd think the planes to France are full of unemployed nannies. as everyone in Manhattan gets in line for an upgrade to the hot, new $100,000 Mandarin-speaking model.

There was that Jan. 16 BBC story I linked to a couple of weeks ago, which came just a few days after a story in the China Daily, which was actually a syndicated rerun of a story in Spiegel [if the embedded text from a Spiegel promo didn't tip you off, the writer's gloating over the "extreme annoyance of French governesses, who are finding it hard to defend their traditional dominance over Manhattan's nurseries against competition from the Far East" left little doubt. Don't get me started on the "$1 million villa" on the Hudson with a swingset in the backyard.]

And then today, there's a story in Crain's NY, too, which features a little UWS girl named Hilton Augusta Rogers and her nanny Shirley...but wait, that's the name of the girl in the Spiegel/China Daily story. And now that you mention it, isn't that the name of the girl in the "Chinese Nannies Take Manhattan" story in NY Magazine last April? Why, yes, yes it is. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought every kid on the UWS was named Isabella, not Hilton Augusta. My two-part read on this: story-pinching reporters outside the US have never heard of Google, or there is only one Mandarin-speaking nanny in Manhattan, and she's got a kick-ass publicist.

[Thanks to Mediabistro, who cracked the Chinese nanny story smuggling ring]


i actually sent a note to rachel at mediabistro about this. just so i have this straight: not okay to rip off new york magazine; ok to rip off random chinese newspaper? excuse me? i just get so IRKED at this practice--it is easy and ethical to tell people where you got the idea for a piece, and if you do original reporting you can IMPROVE on your original source. journalists are so damn competitive and defensive--feh. give credit where it's due: other print media, news site, blog. (not quite as annoying but still annoying and related to the same vuntzy mindset: the major-paper-esp-the-NYT tendency to make EVERYTHING an Important Trend Story, always leading to a second graf saying "Few statistics are available about the phenomenon of Hello Kitty sexual fixation, but stories from therapists, cats, cartoon characters and individuals undergoing treatment for the problem testify to its prevalence nationwide. Stories like Toonces's shine a light on a problem that sits at the dark side of teh nexus of our nation's pop culture fixation and serves as a locus for discussion of isolation, longing, loss and raw feline need." WHATEVER, you just want to do a story on people having sex with hello kitty toys--OWN IT. don't bloviate and make a fake trend story out of it. uh oh, i'm ranting now, aren't i. but i totally agree with you that this is a non-trend...and like any good urban legend, it reveals a lot more about our collective anxieties than about any pesky facts about the pervasiveness of mandarin-speaking nannies and the UESers who love them. it's all about the truthiness, man.

Isn't this the offspring of one Jimmy Rodgers the Columbia Business School Prof. and Investment Guru. He was the first one, I knew of, who started the Mandarin nanny, when he was on Charlie Rose.

[same guy, George Soros' partner from back in the day. Which makes me laugh a bit, because his quotidian parenting decisions are being driven by abstract notions of competitiveness and global macroeconomic forces. Of course, one could argue that that's why Rupert Murdoch had some heirs with Wendi Deng. That, and true love, of course. -ed.]

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