The last time I saw the LSE’s main lecture theatre overflowing with 450+ giggling students was when the Queen came here. So what was the attraction of a geeky Canadian blogger who writes about organic coffee and camping?
Within a year Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like blog has gone from a private joke for college chums to global brand with a book, charity t-shirts and a TV show in development.
The basic riff is that he lists lifestyle habits of upper middle class north Americans in an ironic, dead-pan style that mocks the cultural pretence of liberal metrosexuals in an affectionate and ultimately approving manner. It’s very funny and you don’t have to be white to enjoy it – or share the traits.
Think early Woody Allen but with ginger hair and a beard.
All Lander has to do is say ‘farmer’s market’ and the whole audience cracks up. He is the only comedian I know who can use the word ‘shorts’ as a punchline.
He says he is successful because the American Left has always been badly satirised. The Right doesn’t understand them, while the Left always talks about trailer trash and C&W music when it takes the mickey out of white folk.
Like all good comedy, his targets are the people he lived with in Toronto and himself. He says that white people are ‘uniquely’ over-competitive. But now they use culture and taste in their Darwinian struggle for social status rather than money. Although, as Lander says, this is actually about wealth as much as race.
He accepts that his take is ‘awful and snobby’ but he claims a serious message:
“The taste of this class has been bradned as ‘white’ by society as a whole. That says something about where power and money still lie…You don’t have to be white to be white, you just have to be rich”
[In this article, Lander explains the phenomenal success of the blog.]