From a casual comedic conversation to a website boasting more than 30 miliion hits, PhD dropout and social commentary writer Christian Lander (pictured below) made rambling about stuff white people like into a full-time (not to mention lucrative) job. CH recently caught up with Lander to discuss the website, his new book and the sarcasm behind the stereotypes.
When and why did you start up Stuff White People Like?
On January 18th of this year, my friend Myles and I were having an instant messenger conversation about the TV show "The Wire." Myles, who is Filipino, said he didn't trust any white person who didn't watch the show and from there we started talking about what white people were doing instead of watching the show. We came up with things like going to plays, going to therapy and getting divorced. I thought it was a hilarious idea and started a blog with no intention of it being successful. It was really just a side project for fun.
Do you have any idea of the demographic of your audience. Is it mainly white people laughing at themselves?
The only idea I get is from my seven book readings and mostly it's made up of white people who are there to laugh at themselves or their friends. Though that is not to say it's ALL white people, there are always a solid delegation from other races who find the book hilarious.
Your observations are funny and, in many cases, utterly true. Do you sieve or monitor what you write so that it gets close to the edge but doesn't completely offend?
I spent four years in graduate school studying English Literature and Film, and in that environment you can offend people by using a pen—too phallocentric—so I learned to strike a balance of making an argument without offending. On this site, my goal is just to keep the tone light and not sound too aggressive or cruel.
What has the feedback from non-Caucasians been?
Amazingly positive. This is mostly because anyone who is not white but grew up in the class that I'm talking about has been accused of 'acting white.' All of the activities that I list are inherently branded as white in the society as a whole.
Have you had negative feedback from any particular sectors of society?
Mostly from morons who unfortunately make up a rather large sector of society. They generally make failed arguments about how the site isn't about ALL white people (obviously) or that any stereotypes—even if true and directed at white people—are evil and so forth.
Why did you decide to put out a book when everyone can just go online?
Well, the book (Stuff White People Like, Random House) is 1/2 all new content. So if you enjoy the site and want more of the same with some really fun charts and graphs (i.e. how to name a white child), pick up the book.
What's your day job?
I actually had to quit my day job to finish the book and do the tour. But, prior to that, I was an Associate Manager of Corporate Communications at an ad agency named Schematic.
Why do you think the site/book has been so successful?
I started it so I could have a chance to write something funny but I never expected this. I think the success is due to the fact that people can relate to the entries either on a personal level or they know someone who is being described. Also, since it's in a list form it's a great conversation starter as people can talk about what is missing. Lastly, to toot my own horn, it's funny.
I'm still figuring that out, but hoping to move onto more comedy writing, hopefully in television.