Interview: Christian Lander

Beyond the pale
By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  January 18, 2011


With his first book, Stuff White People Like, and his blog of the same name, Christian Lander poked savage fun at the urban bourgeoisie. He hit a nerve and the bestseller list; it all culminated in an appearance on Conan.

His latest book, Whiter Shades of Pale, dissects Caucasian affectations by region. I spoke with him while he was taking a bus to the Denver airport. It should be noted that he was in direct violation of Stuff White People Like #147: "Public Transportation That Is Not a Bus."

Harvard Book Store was the very first stop on your very first book tour. What has changed for you in the past three years?
At that point, I had no idea if the book was going to be a success or a complete and total failure. . . . Waiting for someone to take it all away from me hasn't changed. I'm still the same guy I was when I started the blog: just a really, really lucky web dude who has a lot of fun making fun of white people.

You were recently on the BBC as an expert on American liberalism. How was that?
It was an awesome honor to be given that option, and I had a blast. It was kind of amazing — they did all these on-the-spot interviews with people, and they were as predictable as I could ever hope. It was unbelievable. They asked what it means to be a liberal. Some woman was like, "What it means to be liberal is to eat all organic."

In your new book, you talk about lots of people like that. Do they make you angry?
I once had a meeting with someone and he called me the angriest white man he had ever met. I was joking the whole time, but rather than laughing, he was listening to what I was saying.

I'm frustrated more than anything else. If you are self-proclaimed as lazy, and you're not going to do a lot of work for a political cause, then there's an honesty to it, and I have no problem with you doing that. You're like, "I don't want to do anything about it, and I changed my Facebook picture." But the people who take this moral high ground and think they've actually accomplished something, that bothers me. So much of the humor comes from my frustration with white people patting themselves on the back for, literally, doing almost nothing and wanting all the credit in the world.

What drives you the craziest?
Any white dude who looks exactly like me. I hate those guys the most. Generally, they are exactly like me, so I'm going to hate them more than anything else. That's an insult to you and an insult to me.

There've been a lot of recent articles about the death of the hipster. Do you think your blog has helped that along?
I don't think it's hastened the demise at all, because that would involve white people actually recognizing what they're doing as being wrong or ridiculous or making a change. They don't do that at all. I think the only real "death of the hipster" is the death of our ability to recognize ourselves as hipsters, and that happened a long time ago. This is literally the end of it all. It's not going to change. What's our alternative? What, are we gonna become Republicans now? This is Francis Fukuyama; this is the end of history here. We've hit the end of the wall. Hipsters aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

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