Monday, May 26, 2008
Stuff White People Like?
You may have already seen the satirical blog "Stuff White People Like" (#28 - Not Having a TV, #41 - Indie Music, #87 - Outdoor Performance Clothes). It's been getting a lot of attention lately in the Chicago Tribune. I can appreciate it's intent, and I know some friends of mine think it's hilarious, but to be completely honest, it just doesn't get a chuckle out of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not offended by it or anything, it's just not that humorous to me.

At first I wondered why this was (am I just not a very self-aware white person?), but as I thought about it, it became pretty clear that I the reason I don't find the blog funny is simply because I've never really been a part of that sub-segment of white society. While a few of the descriptors do fit me (#1 - Coffee, #6 - Organic Food, #35 - The Daily Show/Colbert Report), for the most part I don't really identify with the politically correct, upper middle class, young urban professional (aka yuppie) culture it seems to be describing. I grew up in a northern red-neck, rural poor and lower middle class culture (though I was mostly in it but not of it - having moved from a relatively lower middle class, blue-collar neighborhood of Toledo, OH when I was 11), and then moved to the upper middle class but still very conservative and not very politically correct suburbs (though I've never really self-identified with that subculture either).

At any rate, satire usually only works on someone when they have some familiarity with what is being lampooned. Since I'm not that familiar with the culture this site makes fun of, I suppose that's why it doesn't really make me chuckle very much. Granted, I've slowly become more politically progressive and even more "cultured" over the past decade or so, which is why I fit some of these descriptions now, but I've still never really self-identified as that and have never been surrounded by very many people who thought or acted like me.

That's probably the strangest thing about this site for me, it's describing as normal and mainstream things that in my personal experiences have always been a little odd and counter-cultural for the settings I've been in. Even where I do identify with this list, it is usually not out of conformity to my surrounding white culture, but things that actually set me apart. (Though I expect much of this will change once we move to Austin.)

At any rate, I think the lesson here may be that white culture is no more monolithic than any other sub-group of American society. This list could use a bit more awareness that there is a big difference between the educated, liberal, urban white culture it describes, and the conservative, lower-middle class, rural or suburban white culture I'm more familiar with.

Another lesson is also that whichever race we're talking about, skin-color is a really crappy way of categorizing people. Just because I'm white, doesn't mean I necessarily like the stuff white people are supposed to like, anymore than being black means the person is automatically a "gangsta" or likes hip-hop.
posted by Mike Clawson at 9:45 AM | Permalink |


At 5/26/2008 10:07:00 PM, Blogger D

Good point. Though, I have to admit, every time I read this, I go, "Damn, that's me." Especially the one about the dinner parties.

My wife describes it as "stuff urban, youngish white people like."

I'll probably buy the book. :)


At 5/27/2008 01:08:00 AM, Blogger Amy G

I don't know if it's because as a "minority" it's easier for me to read the blog as an outsider, but I find it hilarious, and this is why: Wheaton College. The blog basically describes the dominant culture of the entire school. I spent 2.5 years feeling so perplexed, left out, and frequently insulted by the culture there, so it's funny to see a blog that shares my perspective more or less.

You're right, it only pertains to a certain sector of the overall white American population, but I think that's exactly why those who don't fit the mold often find it funny. At least if they've spent time NOT fitting in with that culture...


At 5/27/2008 01:26:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

That's interesting that Wheaton fits this list in your opinion Amy. From my perspective it only fits about half. It has the white and mostly upper middle-class parts down, but not so much the progressive/politically correct part.


Links to this post

Links to this post:

Create a Link