When 29-year-old Christian Lander and his high school friend Myles Valentin were joking over instant messenger in early 2008, they tapped into a funny insight about their own "white culture." Myles said he didn't trust any white person who didn't watch the TV show The Wire. The two joked that if white people were not watching The Wire, they must be doing yoga, going out for breakfast and other "typically white" activities. The conversation turned into a wildly popular blog and is now the basis of Christian's book Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. Gayle talks with Christian about his book, his blog and the idea of mixing stereotypes with satire.
Christian says some of the "typical stuff white people like" include standing still at concerts, sushi, the Sunday New York Times, organic food, film festivals, backpacking, farmers' markets, grammar and snowboarding. "The people I am describing here are sort of the upper middle class, left-wing liberal people who want to believe they exist in this classless, raceless, sort of perfect society," he says. "The truth is that section of America, and Canada for that matter, is overwhelmingly dominated by white people and everything they do culturally is branded white."
Coed sports, microbreweries, gay friends, the Toyota Prius, public radio and marathons also make the list. While many white people say the blog and book make them both laugh and cringe, Christian says it's not meant to be offensive. "The book is really going after the idea of stereotypes," he says. "But they are not stereotypes meant to degrade or demean anyone."
If people are truly offended by his book and blog, Christian says he's not sorry. "I think the best part is, people getting offended at this are mostly offended because it's right," he says. Plus, Christian says those who are offended likely don't understand his humor. "Satire demands more of the audience than a lot of other types of humor," he says.
Published on August 11, 2008