Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christian Lander - Stuff White People Like

I found this book to be fantastic and hilarious. Lander's savvy and subversive wit is astute and borders on prophetic, and is distressingly accurate. His cultural commentary vacillates between comic and biting, but it's so entertaining that any insults seem forgivable, if not well-deserved.
His comments on "the wrong kind of white person" are hysterical- and I'm honestly hoping Lander decides to expand this category into an entire book of its own.
I particularly enjoyed some of the following excerpts:
"Portland, Oregon, is essentially a Lord of the Flies scenario with white people in the Pacific Northwest instead of children in the South Pacific. In both cases, we have a situation whereby a homogenous group of people is left alone in an area with no one to keep them in check. Eventually the euphoria and self-congratulation devolves into savagery and murder" (Lander 148).
"Platonic Friendships - White people often engage in something called a 'platonic friendship.' These arrangements feature a white male who is in love with a white female who needs companionship or access to someone with a car. The relationship is symbiotic for a long time as the white male believes he is making 'progress' in his efforts to sleep with the white woman. The white female is in turn rewarded with companionship, someone to help her move [helping one move is a frequent theme in this text, one which I find particularly charming], and an excellent 'backup' plan in case she is unable to date the male of her choice" (Lander 161).
" much as white people love being outside, they also hate slight discomfort. So when eating in a cafe make sure that the white person you are with has appropriate levels of shade [...] It is not a good idea to say, 'If you like shade so much, there's this entire place called 'inside' that has nothing but shade.'" (Lander 186).
"The role of books in white culture is perhaps as important as organic food -- essential for survival. However, understand that this is not about literacy or reading, but about the physical object of a book [...] white people need to show off the books that they have read. Just as hunters will mount the heads of their kills, white people need to let people know that they have made their way through hundreds or even thousands of books. After all, what's the point of reading a book if people don't know you've read it? It's like a tree falling in the forest. As much as white people do not want you rifling through their medicine cabinet, they are desperate for you to examine their bookshelves. [...] white people like to purchase very expensive, very large books that they can put on their coffee tables for other people to see and then use to make value judgments. If the coffee-table book is about art, then the white person wants you to ask them about their trip to the Tate Modern [...] If it's about football or bikinis, you should politely ask to leave" (Lander...?)
"Imagine spending three days in a tent, but instead of being surrounded by nature you are surrounded by mud, oppressive heat, loudspeakers, and thousands of white people swaying with their eyes closed. Many people would call this "hell," "a nightmare that won't end," or "some sort of sci-fi zombie scenario that is worse than anything we could ever imagine." White people call this a "music festival" and will pay large amounts of money for the experience." (Lander...?)
I was also ridiculously thrilled to see that despite being a relatively typical white person (ie. not famous, excessively wealthy, or in some other way extraordinary), I didn't fit in to as many categories as I'd feared I would. Some, to be sure, but not all. Hooray for me.