Tuesday, July 15, 2008

American Prospect - The White Stuff

More press for Stuff White People Like. American Prospect looks beyond the obvious humor to analyze the state of race in America.

Here are two good quotes from the lengthy article:
Commentators and bloggers of all races have hailed the site as groundbreaking. Some have said it is edgy and deals with white privilege in a real way; others have said that it is a refreshing and funny take on racism in our culture. But this is true more on an implicit than explicit level. Even though some posts deal directly with race, such as the entries on Diversity (No. 7), Being an Expert on YOUR Culture (No. 20), and Being the Only White Person Around (No. 70), Lander didn't set out to write an academic treatise on whiteness. Rather, he set out to joke about it. What sets it apart from the hundreds of other well-written, funny Web sites is that it's hit a nerve--especially because it appeared at a time when America was captivated by the issue of race in the presidential primary. And so it's worth thinking about exactly what this blog tells us about whiteness and why its mostly white, affluent audience has so enthusiastically embraced this gently mocking rundown of their culture.

* * *

Some people will protest that Stuff White People Like is just a humor blog, and it need not be taken so seriously. But that's the point. When you're part of the dominant culture, you don't have to be self-aware about the assumptions in your own product. You don't have to examine how you overlap with, and set yourself apart from, other cultures. Meanwhile, the vast majority of owners of pop-culture outlets are white and wealthy, as are the people producing the content. So though it may be just a start-up humor blog, Stuff White People Like has an impact on the dominant narrative on race and class.
Gee, and here I thought it was just funny. You know, like this:

2256034027_f48985d435.jpgAs white people get older, they like to make clear boundaries between their professional and personal lives. They don’t mind talking about their personal life at work, but they hate talking about their work life when they are enjoying a weekend or vacation. But with blackberries and laptops, white people could be working anywhere, at any time. So how do you know when they are off the clock? It’s easy, check their clothes.

When white people aren’t working, they generally like to wear Outdoor Performance Clothes. The top suppliers of these garments and accessories include North Face, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Columbia Sportswear, and Patagonia.

When you see white people wearing these, it is important that you do not discuss business matters. Instead you should say things like “where did you get that fleece?” and “what’s that thing holding your keys to your shorts?” White people will be more than happy to talk to you about their sustainably produced possessions.

The main reason why white people like these clothes is that it allows them to believe that at any moment they could find themselves with a Thule rack on top of their car headed to a national park. It could be 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday when they might get a call “hey man, you know what we need to do? Kayak then camping, right now. I’m on my way to get you, there is no time to change clothes.”

Though it is unlikely that they will receive this call, White people hate the idea of missing an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities because they weren’t wearing the right clothes.

If you plan on spending part of your weekend with a white person, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a jacket or some sort of “high performance” t-shirt, which is like a regular shirt but just a lot more expensive.

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