Everyone knows stereotypes can be detrimental. But they can also be hilarious! It has been argued many times that stereotypes tend to contain a nugget of truth. And if you’re a minority, you’re used to getting some um, unique insights on how you’re perceived. But what happens when white people become the primary arbiter of their own inappropriate gags? The result may look something like stuffwhitepeoplelike.com.
And what do white people like, you ask? Excellent question. Among the items that made the list are Whole Foods, Dinner Parties, Coffee, 80’s Night, Lawyers, Diversity, and Modern Furniture. Yeah, it’s pretty hilarious. The joke is of course aimed at the middle class, also referred to as yuppies. And as far as I know, it will only be funny to Americans. Like most satires, it’s not meant be accurate, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t pointed. Toronto native and 29 year-old Christian Lander is the creator of stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, and currently lives in L.A. The once aspiring copywriter now has a million dollar book deal with Random House based on the site.
SWPL succeeds in terms of irony, parody, and keen observation. The tone mimics a how to manual, geared toward minorities as a guide for surviving among white society, though it’s unknown how many non-whites actually read the blog compared to whites. Occasionally among the polarized comments that either confirm or condemn, a grateful minority will express playfully sincere gratitude or utter astonishment at its accuracy.
The blog’s success lies in its inherent position that white culture is not the norm, and needs to be explained. Perhaps this comes from a shift in social context, now that it’s more likely in some parts of the U.S. for whites to be a minority. Such an experience illuminates differences. Occasionally Lander includes biting commentary asserting white people’s attachment to social competition, false humility, guilt, episteme, underlying ignorance, and an appetite for superiority. These caustic elements are so self-aware and well executed that Lander could comparably be the white equivalent of Richard Pryor.
It’s safe to say that Lander has no idea the impact the site has made, particularly for the perplexed and insecurity-laden minority trying to sort out his “double consciousness” among white culture. Though it’s meant in jest, stuffwhitepeoplelike.com is actually a competent and comprehensive guide, and moreover the only one in existence. In a fit of genius, Landers saw a void that needed to be filled. After all, with the exception of a few observers, white culture has been an enigma that had yet to be painstakingly profiled. Reading the comments one can see why. While most are enamored with the provocative site, many reiterate the unfairness of category lumping– typical of someone unfamiliar to the treatment, someone who’s, say, white. The fact that this mode of perception is itself cited in part of the blog makes the whole dilemma that much funnier.
If you do the stuff on the list and you’re not white, don’t be confused. It’s not suggested that entries such as #28 Not Having a TV are exclusive to white people, only that it plays a unique role in the caricature that is “whiteness.” It follows an arguably American tradition of sizing up the “others” of the population, an act so rarely practiced on white people that it’s extremely amusing and on some level freeing. It’s even inspired “stuff” spin-offs, such as Stuff Black Educated People Like and even Stuff Stick Figures Like. Now we can all have a good laugh at each other, this time in a good way.