Stuff white guys like: publishing their blogs

By Colleen Seidel

Christian Lander doesn’t exactly think all those canvas bag-carrying, organic-food shopping,… Christian Lander doesn’t exactly think all those canvas bag-carrying, organic-food shopping, NPR-listening, vintage T-shirt-wearing white people who name Wes Anderson as their favorite director are all that unique. In fact, that’s pretty much the point of his new book, ‘Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions.’ Taken from his blog by the same name (, it’s a book that lists 150 things white people like and then self-mockingly describes those things and why they’re popular. It’s been garnering attention, good and bad, since its publication in May. And while the whole thing’s really just a big joke, it’s a joke with a point. Since it caught our attention as well, The Pitt News decided to talk with the newly minted comedy writer to get the scoop behind his self-proclaimed ‘ultimate guide to the unbearable whiteness of being.’ The Pitt News: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We always like to highlight writers who’ve become successful because, let’s face it, that’s what we’re all trying to do. Christian Lander: It’s no problem. I worked on my college paper [the McGill Tribune] for three years, with pretty much exactly the same people as me ‘mdash; generally overachievers. TPN: Oh yeah? That’s cool. What was that like? ‘ CL: It was fantastic, but I wanted to be a writer my entire life. That was just one of the outlets, and it helped me realize I didn’t have passion for journalism. TPN: So then what lead you to comedy writing? CL: Growing up I dreamt about being a comedy writer. But I lived in Canada. It was like, how the hell is this ever going happen? I didn’t really know the path. I worked on the college paper, and I went into academia. But my love of film and literature was not really all that great to get me through. TPN: We read somewhere that the idea for ‘Stuff’ came from an [instant message] conversation you had with a friend about the TV show, ‘The Wire.’ Is that true? CL: Yeah. We were just talking about the TV show, and my friend Miles, who’s from the Philippines, said he didn’t trust any white person who didn’t like the show. We got into a conversation about ‘what are they doing instead of watching ‘The Wire?” We came up with things like getting divorced, drinking fair-trade coffee. And I thought it was hilarious, so I just started writing. TPN: So this might be an obvious question, but where do you get your ideas for the topics? CL: When it hits you, it hits you. I use people I went to grad school with, I went to McGill with, and I ask, ‘Would they like this?’ If the answer is yes, then it’s in. And if I ever need inspiration, I just go to the farmers market. TPN: Considering the subject of your book, there’s been some criticism to it. Have you yourself received any kind of negative responses from people? CL: Yeah, tons. It’s almost entirely from idiots. It’s usually people who are utterly humorless, is a good way to put it. Who don’t get what it’s about, what I’m trying to do with it. Some people call me a racist, which is my favorite one. I absolutely love that. For once you’re offended that I made a broad generalization about your race that you’ve never heard before. Ask anyone else from any other race if they’ve never dealt with that before. If the harshest criticism is that I’m racist to white people, then I can deal with that. The criticisms that I’m not a good writer, that I’m not funny, those are just from people who are jealous. TPN: So then are you trying to make some kind of social commentary, or is it just something you do for fun? CL: First and foremost, comedy is my top priority. It has to be funny above all else. The whole thing is really about me in terms of making fun of myself. Sort of cathartic, you know, thinking, ‘Your brother was right. You are pretentious. Deal with it.’ TPN: The book has hit The New York Times’ bestseller’s list. Does that feel surreal to you? CL: Surreal is exactly how it feels. None of this feels real. I dreamt about having a book on the bestseller’s list ‘mdash; is this really happening? It’s happened. TPN: So what’s next? CL: I just want to be a comedy writer, that’s it. I’m not a novelist ‘mdash; I don’t have the great novel of our generation in me, it’s just not there. If I can’t turn this into a comedy-writing job or career, then I was never talented enough. I’ll say I tried and there was nothing more I could have done. I’ll find a regular job and move back to Canada. TPN: Fair enough. One last question, do you stand still at concerts? CL: Yes, of course. I’m not going to be that asshole. I listen to Belle and Sebastian-type music. What are you going to do ‘mdash; sway side to side? I do, I stand very still at concerts. And I judge everybody who’s dancing. If you’re dancing, then I’m watching your every move and making fun of you. TPN: [Pause’hellip;] Awesome. Well, thanks again for talking with us and good luck with everything. CL: Oh, one more thing. Have all the Pitt students get together and bring me to campus. It’d be fun to go on a college speaking tour.