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White Is The New Black - Christian Lander Interview

Author: Darryn King
Monday, 3 November 2008

Do you like girls with bangs, Arrested Development and Barack Obama- How about Wes Anderson movies, bottled water and standing still at concerts- If so, Christian Lander has you pegged. 3D’s Darryn King spoke to the blogger behind the ridiculously successful (and acutely perceptive) Stuff White People Like blog, which was released in book form by Hardie Grant last month.

How did the idea for the blog come about-

The idea came about from an instant messenger conversation that led to my friend and I talking about what white people were doing instead of watching The Wire. It was done as a side-project and I really only expected about five people to read it. I just wrote what was in my head and it all came out very quickly. Most posts were written (from first word to publish) in about an hour.

When did you realise the site had become viral-
It was a strange few months where things just kept getting bigger. Each day I would think ‘this can’t get any bigger’, and then it did.

How much of the project is self-mockery-
It’s almost entirely self-mockery. I don’t like outdoor performance gear, but other than that I’m pretty guilty of all of it. But my worst one is ‘knowing what’s best for poor people’. Truthfully (and shamefully), most of the photos in the book were just taken from our lives the past few years.

Some comedians are quietly pleased when they offend someone: it means they’re doing something right. Is this true of you-

I think offending people can be really fun if you do it with material that’s not really offensive. What I mean is that it’s very easy to offend someone with photos of dead children or bestiality or something deplorable. When you offend them with something that really isn’t offensive, it’s really fantastic. As far as racism goes, I spent a lot of time in graduate school with people who were desperate to censor everything and label it all as racist. I think when we keep making race such a taboo it never solves anything. I grew up with friends of all kinds of races, and we generally used a lot of horribly racist slurs against each other. But it didn’t matter because there was no malice behind it. We were friends first and I think sometimes people can get caught up in words and miss out on what’s really important.

Do you see it primarily as observation comedy-
It’s definitely observation comedy. I’ve said before you don’t have to be white to be white. All of this behaviour and action can be enjoyed by anyone, but the truth is that all of these activities are fundamentally branded as white in our world. So a Chinese person who enjoys farmer’s markets and indie music is probably going to be accused of acting white.

What has the fame been like-

It’s very strange, and fortunately it’s hard to get a swelled head from it. I went to a conference in Boston called ROFL Con that brought together all the internet famous/funny people out there and everyone was very similar in that all of us know how lucky we are and all of us started our respective projects because we thought they were funny, not because we thought they would lead to real fame.

What sort of work would you like to do after this project runs its course-
Comedy writing for television or hosting a talk show. That’s pretty much it really.

WHAT: Stuff White People Like blog and book
MORE: stuffwhitepeoplelike.com / hardiegrant.com.au

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