Christian Lander lectures on white culture


Photo: Yue Wu/Iowa State Daily

Christian Lander gives a lecture to students in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union Wednesday, March 2. Lander writes his blog about upper-middle-class white culture and his book “Stuff White People Like” is published by Random House.

Kaleb Warnock

“That’s it. It’s blog time.”

It all began with a debate between copywriters at an interactive law firm.

Stuff White people Like” is a blog and book by Christian Lander designed to pick fun at the stereotypes associated with white people. However, there is an underlying message to his inimical commentary that raises social questions that are easy to overlook, Lander said in his lecture Wednesday at the Memorial Union.

“The fact of the matter is is that this book is proof that upper-middle-class liberal and white are interchangeable,” Lander said. “The fact that I can put all these things together that imply over education, that imply wealth, that imply the ability to have these creative freedoms backed up by financial needs.”

Instead, he said things like free trade coffee, raising awareness and driving a hybrid — all from his list of things white people like — are just another way for white people to compete.

“What we want to tell ourselves is that our economic freedom brought about by the wealth of our parents’ wealth has enabled us to become above money,” he said.

In other words, rather than the “competing with the Jones” mentality, white Americans have taken altruistic things like charity and human rights, and turned them into competition.

Lander assembled a list of things white people like in an effort to pick fun at white people and call attention to their new emphasis on material wealth.

But the story of “Stuff White People Like” has humble beginnings.

The book began as a blog that has been gaining momentum and has topped nearly 80 million hits and is continuing to rise. The enterprise sprung up almost overnight and helped Lander’s dream of being a comedy writer come true.

“I’d done it. I’d made this little blip on the culture of the Internet,”  Lander said. “This is amazing.”

After being published, the book topped the New York Times Bestseller list within weeks and is even been published in three languages, including Japanese. He confessed he secretly hopes it will become a textbook for Japanese business English.

The site began as a WordPress blog, and in an effort to gain hits, he sent it out to 25 of his friends.

Soon, traffic jumped from 150 hits to 1,000 hits a day then to 30,000 hits. By the end of February, he was topping 60,000 hits a day and had been contacted by several major talent agencies in Hollywood.

“Six months,” Lander said. “Six months from literally dicking around on the Internet with my friend Miles to the New York Times bestseller list.”

He spent most of the rest of the lecture picking fun of white people for liking things like coffee, religions that parents don’t belong to, diversity, public radio, having two last names, the idea of soccer, expensive sandwiches, awareness, hating corporations and shorts.

Despite the light-hearted tone of the lecture, he left the audience with a heavy feeling brought on by a deeper message from his satirical depiction of American white people and feelings of entitlement brought on by wealth.

“We need to stop demanding so much recognition for doing the right thing,” he said. “Because as white people, we won’t do the right thing unless we get a rubber bracelet out of it.”