Kerri Pinchuk > Junior > Journalism > University of Maryland
The 31-year-old Toronto native is the author of the wildly popular self-deprecating blog, “Stuff White People Like,” as well as the book Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions.
From not-so-alternative music tastes and nonsensical wardrobe choices to irrational predispositions and hardwood floors, “Stuff White People Like” calls out the white “yuppie” culture quirks that prohibit any of its individuality-seeking members from actually being unique.
“I wanted to call all this out and make fun of how ridiculous we are,” Lander said of the inspiration that started the blog in January 2008.
“Stuff White People Like” plays on “non-hateful” stereotypes to point out the hilarities of some of the culture’s mentalities. Lander often refers to the “right” and “wrong” kind of white people – the right kind being upper-middle-class, left-wing, liberal arts college graduates who enjoy yoga and organic coffee, and the wrong kind being those who live in trailer parks and get meaningless tattoos.
So why exactly do people, especially white people, enjoy reading “Stuff White People Like?” Because it’s true, Lander said, admitting he likes everything on the list – except for camping.
“People love pointing out how unoriginal their friends are,” Lander said, which was something he hadn’t predicted for his site. “People take a weird pleasure in reading the site, recognizing one of their friends, sending it to them and being like, ‘Hey, you think you’re special? Here you go. You’re not.’”
Reader comments on the blog generally lean towards appreciation and admiration for Lander’s bold wit. But some people, he admits, take offense to his generalizations.
There are those who perceive the blog as racist because “it’s fundamentally about stereotypes,” Lander writes on the site. “This blog is not filled with hateful or negative stereotypes and it’s not meant to incite anger or demean white people.”
Lander said he started “Stuff White People Like” with no intention other than entertaining his friends. In fact, the site was inspired by an instant messenger conversation with a friend.
“The goal was, ‘I’m just going to do this to make myself laugh, to make my friends laugh and because I actually enjoy doing this,’” said Lander. “Somehow, people picked up on that energy. And it caught on.”
The key to Internet fame is being real, he said, because people can always tell when you’re just trying to be famous.
Once he created the blog by listing a few things he believed all white people liked, such as the television show The Wire, Lander sent an e-mail to 20 of his friends with the link. He was surprised to see that his friends then forwarded the link on to others.
When the people who had no stake in Lander’s success started forwarding the link, that’s when he knew the blog was getting big.
Soon after, Comedy Central posted a link to the blog on its Web site, and newspapers across the country were writing about the sensation. Weeks later, “Stuff White People Like” was receiving 400,000 hits per day. Two months later, Lander had a book deal.
Within two weeks of its publication, Stuff White People Like:The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions reached the New York Times bestseller list.
Lander now gets to travel across the country speaking about his book and experiences. At a recent appearance at the University of Maryland, Lander spoke to nearly 250 attendees about his overnight rise from obscurity, being a redheaded hipster and the perks of Internet fame.
University of Maryland freshman Adam Garner had never heard of Stuff White People Like, but tagged along with friends anyway.
“It was hilarious,” Garner said after the show. “It’s funny because it’s all true. Whether it applies to you or not, it’s funny relating the subjects to people you know.”
Now Garner is planning to read the book and start following “Stuff White People Like” online.
Next up for the phenomenon is a TV show that was recently sold to FOX. Lander said that plans for the TV show – “the wrong kind of white guy learning how to be the right kind of white guy from a black guy” – involve working with the creators of Arrested Development.
For Lander, who was working as a copywriter at an ad agency when he created the blog, riding out the success is all about fun.
“If there’s something you really enjoy and you find a passion for it, take that as its own reward,” he said. “I’m going to take every single opportunity that came along with this, because I know it doesn’t last forever.”
Photo from http://images.smh.com.au/ftsmh/ffximage/2009/05/20/lander_wideweb__470x321,0.jpg