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Stuff White People Like: an interview with blogger and humorist Christian Lander

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Christian Lander, author of the 'Stuff White People Like' blog.

If you’ve ever been involved with the refreshingly lo-fi world of blogging (known collectively as the ‘blogosphere’), then you’ll know that most blogs are lucky to get a few clicks a day, never mind hitting triple figures. So when I tell you that Christian Lander’s blog Stuff White People Like has now received over 71 million hits, you’ll know that it’s nothing short of a miracle.

Founded in 2008, Stuff White People Like pokes fun at the cornerstone of American culture: the educated, middle-income, liberal white person. Witty, cutting, and surprisingly accurate, Lander’s observations all too easily puncture the self-satisfied bubble of middle class America. It’s little surprise that the tie-in book spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists – this is a frank, and hilarious, dissection of white America that was long overdue.

This week sees the publication of Christian Lander’s follow-up book, Whiter Shades Of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews. Despite the long-winded title it’s another refreshing sideways glance at our pretensions and foibles, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny from cover to cover. In addition to 100 new entries on the stuff that White People like, Whiter Shades Of Pale also gives us the rundown on individual regions, mocking Seattle’s love affair with coffee and sweaters in the same breath as Europe’s slim-fit pants.

We caught up with Christian Lander shortly before he embarked on his book tour, to ask him some tough questions about his book, his blog, and his derogatory remarks about Seattle’s musical pedigree.

Dan Coxon: When you started the Stuff White People Like blog, did you have any idea of how successful it would become?

Christian Lander: Absolutely not. I started the blog to entertain literally three friends (Myles, Sean and Ron). I had no idea it would catch on the way that it did. A lot of why it became successful is luck, just good timing on a good concept that was done well. Also I think that a send up of the left had been really long overdue. Frankly, the right has no clue how to make fun of the left, so when this came along it seemed like something new.

Christian Lander's White Shades Of Pale.

DC: I’m sure most people find the blog, and the books, hilarious… but have you ever had any negative reactions? Any entries that cut a little too close to the bone?

CL: Oh yes. You cannot write about race on the internet without angering someone. In fact, you can’t write ANYTHING on the internet without inciting a small race war. So when I put the site up, I got all sorts of emails saying it was racist to stereotype white people, that the site was elitist, and so forth. I also got an email from someone who said he hoped I went to get jail and got raped and got AIDS. Love you internet!

DC: The new book also focuses on specific regions in addition to your usual, general observations, and at one point you turn your eye on Seattle. As I sit here in my sweater, drinking coffee, I can’t help noticing how close to reality you come. Did you have to travel much to research specific areas?

CL: I have traveled a lot in the past few years. I’ve done a book tour and a few college lectures around the country, and so I’ve witnessed everything first hand. Of course, white people are very predictable, and the majority of these observations could have been made with a notepad and a few hours on a regional parenting message board… or Chowhound.

DC: You also suggest that Seattle’s musical relevance lasted for a short period between 1991 and 1994. This will clearly upset a lot of people here, so I’ll give you a chance to defend yourself in advance!

CL: Ahhh, yes, nothing white people hate more than the truth. Yes, I know about Fleet Foxes and all the other wonderful bands that have come out of Seattle since then. But the book is a send up of these cities, and Seattle got off fairly lightly compared to the insults to my own hometown of Toronto. But seriously, I think Seattle is a wonderful city – it’s  like Canada, without the socialized medicine or coin money.

DC: Any new observations on us White People that didn’t make it into the book?

CL: The Ted Conference.

DC: And what next for the Stuff White People Like franchise? Another book? Stage show? iPhone app?

CL: To be honest with you, I really don’t know. I kind of thought all of this would have disappeared a long time ago. I’ll just say Stage Show. Interpretive Dance Stage Show.

Whiter Shades Of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews is available now from Random House Publishing, priced $15.00.

Christian Lander will be appearing at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company on Tuesday December 7th, 2010. The event starts at 7:00pm. For further details of his book tour – including stops in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Chicago – visit the Stuff White People Like blog.

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