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#110 Stuff White People Like

By John Murphy

Posted 9/18/08 at 12:19 PM

 

The Atlantic has an interesting commentary on the popular blog site, Stuff White People Like (also now a New York Times bestselling book). The website features mini-essays by Christian Lander, a PhD dropout now famous for skewering the tastes and mores of ‘White People’—alternately called ‘bourgeois bohemians’ and the ‘educated elite’—that curious class of soi-disant progressives that vote Democrat and pursue ‘personal happiness’ as the highest good while attempting to define “themselves and their values through their all-but uniform taste and accessories (Sedaris/Eggers/The Daily Show/the right indie music/Obama bumper stickers/uh, The New Yorker).”

Self-importance is always ripe for mockery (Christopher Guest, director of movies like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show has made a career of it), and Lander’s blog makes funny, cutting commentaries on popular ‘White People’ fads like sweaters, coffee, and Facebook. A personal favorite is the entry, “Comparing People to Hitler,” that includes the following incisive insight: “Being a truly advanced white person means being able to speak with authority about pretty much any field of conversation- especially politics. In order for white people to streamline the process of knowing everything, all human beings can be neatly filed into one of two categories: People I Agree With, and People Who are Just Like Adolf Hitler.” Think of this next time you see a sign that reads Bush (or fill-in-the-blank) Equals Hitler. 

Stuff White People Like has the cute but caustic tone of a shlub at a cocktail party making fun of the preening, self-absorbed host. Lander describes the aversion of “White People” to Christianity as “rooted not in religious enmity but in taste (Christianity is “a little trashy”), formed largely by class and education.” This will resonate with anyone who has ever seen their IQ points drop in the eyes of an interlocutor due to the admission, “I’m a Christian.” For Christians, the site is actually quite useful for prompting an examination of conscience—entries like “Appearing Empathetic with Personal Anecdotes of Poverty” remind the reader to not use volunteering or charity donations as status symbols. If you do, Stuff White People Like will mock you. 

Satire is a useful tool for exposing hypocrisies, but what Lander perhaps fails to appreciate is that the ‘White People’ he eviscerates also love ironic, meta-self-commentary. In other words, Lander should add item #110 to ‘Stuff White People Like”: the blog site, Stuff White People Like.