Author discusses inside joke turned online phenomenon

By Connelly Hardaway

Cavalier Daily, U. Virginia via UWIRE

Most people who pursue dreams in Hollywood end up being disappointed, but Christian Lander is not one of them. Best-known for his blog “Stuff White People Like,” Lander appeared at an event at U. Virginia. After the talk, he shared his story in a one-on-one interview.

Working as a copy writer after graduating, Lander said he enjoyed his job but sought alternate outlets for his humor. In January 2008, he came up with a list of “Stuff White People Like,” which quickly evolved into a blog.

The blog “Stuff White People Like” soon became an Internet sensation, accumulating 20 million hits since its debut. Lander began to get calls from major newspapers and, eventually, from talent agencies hoping to strike a book deal.

By March 2008 Lander had quit his job and signed a book deal with Random House. On July 14, 2008, “Stuff White People Like: A Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions” became a New York Times best-seller.

The list includes black friends, scarves and beards, but is meant as a joke, Lander stressed. He said he includes himself in the “white people” at whom he pokes fun.

“I encourage everyone to make fun of white people,” Lander said.

Capitalizing on his ability to laugh at himself and people like him, Lander’s list of “Stuff White People Like” expanded, and in 2010 he published a second book, “Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews.”

Despite the success currently enjoyed by the racially conscious comic, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. After majoring in English and history during his undergraduate years at McGill and completing a graduate program at U. Arizona, Lander ultimately dropped out of a PhD program at Indiana and moved with his wife to Los Angeles.

Even now, the future of the “Stuff White People Like” creator remains uncertain.

“I’ve hit my wall,” Lander said. “Things have a shelf life in terms of making stuff good. If I don’t have something really quality, I’m not going to put it up.”

The humorist advised aspiring writers to write what they believe in. “Don’t write with the intention of getting popular,” he said.

With its subtle criticism of modern furniture, expensive sandwiches and kitchen gadgets, Lander said his blog tackles class issues, not racial ones.

“You don’t have to be white to be white,” Lander said. “You just have to be rich.”

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