Saturday, November 20, 2010

A voice worth listening to

The only part of him that isn't white is his hair.
Christian Lander created a blog titled “Stuff White People Like”, a study of upper-middle-class white culture, a comical and clever observational blog for making a path in modern white society. His voice is that of a scientific observer or sociologist that is peering into a zoo of white people. Essentially what Jane Goodall accomplished with primates, Christian Lander did with white culture. His blog has 74,700,125 hits, truly he struck a nerve of conviction people felt and a vein of culture people bled. His goal is to bring contemporary white culture to its senses and have them living a real life.
Lander accomplishes this by stating observations, such as, white people like the Ted Conference only because:
You see white people like the idea of getting smarter quickly, but they don’t like the idea of people thinking that they are lazy. It is a bit of a paradox, but it does explain why white people only like Cliff Notes if they are part of some sort of hilarious college story about last-minute studying for an exam. And why they consider it highly unacceptable to use cliff notes or Wikipedia to get a rough understanding of a book you don’t want to read.
He sounds as though he is being serious, but it is absurdity wrapped in the fooling guise of ‘scholarly prose’. As a graduated graduate student, Lander knows how to pull those strings and does it effectively in absolutely every-single-post. He is so subtle in his approach that a good number of people probably take him too seriously, nodding their heads in agreement, all the while missing the point that Lander is actually satirizing them and not talking about them.

This blog is simple. The bare DNA of it is: simple. It is comprised of a list of things white people do, numbered 1 through infinity. Each ‘thing’ is written about, equating to 1 blog post. There are a lot of key words of pop culture: Conan O’Brien, Ray-Ban Wayfarers, Bansky, Bob Marley, the World Cup, Facebook, Netflix, Marijuana, and so on. All these key words (actually titles of blog posts) help put SWPL near the top of every search, gathering many views.

His sentence style is simple. Just the way the ‘white person’ likes it. A simple sentence with a complicated implication. His writing is intelligent but concise, with few (if any) grammatical errors in between. He delivers and pauses at precise moments to let each bullet point settle. His sentence structure has been strikingly consistent for over 2 years since he first posted #1 Coffee. Perhaps the only thing that has changed is the length of his posts, they are getting longer and ingeniously descriptive. The emotions that are conveyed are so blunt that they are mistaken as being genuine, for example, what Lander says about the TED Conference,
For many white people, TED Conferences are actually a source of sadness and depression. This comes from their dreams to attend a future TED Conference in person. But with a price tag of $6000 and an invite-only policy, many white people are simply unable to attend. This is a new concept for white people as they have successfully been creating and joining expensive exclusive clubs for over one thousand years. Popular examples include: private schools, politics, and ice hockey.
Lander is clearly being sarcastic, but because he sounds so serious and full of goodwill when he writes, he is able to digress about touchy subjects such as ‘class’ and get away with it. This is because what Lander says about the ‘white person’ (or human nature) is so unabashedly true that the natural response is to nod in agreement, thinking nothing of what he implied.

The content of the blog is simple: all the things we love to do, and hate to lose. Currently there are 134 blog posts, each on a different thing a white person likes. The character of the blog fits snugly into the mindset of a white person: blissful simplicity. This reflects the character of the character, namely, he knows himself and his own culture so well that he is able to intelligently wrap petty trifles in expensive words.

Simplicity & humor is Lander’s technique to get middle class America thinking about their sham of an existence.

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