Friday, July 04, 2008

Stuff White People Like

I just bought and finished the book Stuff White People Like: The Definite Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions by Christian Lander (who, purely based on outward appearances, fits several of the criteria). It's apparently pretty well brand new, so I kinda lucked out when I happened to see it on the shelf in Coles in Newmarket.

The book is, essentially, a list of 150 things that "white people" stereotypically do and enjoy. I suppose it's not really for everyone (for example, skye930 on Amazon that wonders "Where did this guy do his research?"), but really, I found it to actually be a very humourous look at just how cliché people can be, either a) without realizing it, or b) while thinking they are being quite unique and individual. And, as for where Lander did his research, all of the ones I recognized simply came from being around people (Orangeville and Barrie have a fairly good portion of white people, so that probably helped).

Now, if I may, I would like to list the ones I found not only the funniest, but also the most prevalent. And please, for the love of God, don't get offended if I list one that you think is about you. I didn't get upset when I saw the ones that were me in the book, and, yes, I plan on listing them here, so you can all chortle at me and my whiteness. There are a few that are more regional, I suppose, and there's a couple that are geared clearly towards Americans (#91 San Francisco and #111 Portland, Oregon, for example), and some that I just don't see, so not everything spoke to me, but the vast majority are pulled right out of my (nearly) 25 years.

So, in no particular order (except the order they appear in the book, so...numerical order):

#1: Coffee - particularly the line, "It was obvious that they didn't enjoy it, but they did it anyway, until they liked it - like cigarettes." I think that's certainly true, as is evidenced by the number of people that drink it double-double, triple-triple, half hot chocolate-half coffee, etc.

#2: Religions Their Parents Don't Belong To - "This usually means that they will believe in any religion that doesn't involve Jesus." Oooooh yeah.

#3: Film Festivals - I've never noticed a lot of like for the festivals themselves, although I have heard rumblings about an eventual trip to the TIFF, but I do remember that it was mostly staff at Blockbuster that sucked up the Festival Flicks.

#6: Organic Food - "In spite of the fact that most organic food is made by major agribusiness, which just uses it as an excuse to jack up prices, white people will always lose their mind for organic anything." Organic = good. No exception.

#7: Diversity - "...but only as it relates to restaurants."

#10: Wes Anderson Movies - Just one of those directors that has never made anything even remotely less than excellent. However, "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:...(Note: It is acceptable to be critical of this movie.)"

#13: Tea - The fact that Georgian Mall has a tea store that is about the same size as two or three restaurants in the food court speaks to this. However, best line in the section: "But do not remind them about the role of colonialism in tea, it will make them feel sad." Colonialism and the drug trade.

#14: Having Black Friends - I think the day Wade met the black dude at the Leadership Conference was probably, at the very least, one of the Top 5 best moments in his life.

#15: Yoga - "Yoga is essentialy stretching with guidance." Personal opinion matched. Also, as with all of these things, one large component of these being White People Specific is the fact that white people do them more than anyone else. Go to a yoga class. Count the people that aren't white. Even in movies, where they can pretty much cast anyone as an extra - count the minorities. It's fun!

#16: Gifted Children - "White people love 'gifted' children. Do you know why? Because an astounding 100 percent of their kids are gifted!" Seriously, a white kid could be writing his name on the lawn with a flamethrower, but is he a hellspawn of a child? Nope, just "creative".

#18: Awareness - Think about it: How many Facebook groups espousing awareness about something you don't really care about have you been invited to by someone other than a white person?

#19: International Travel - "This travel is not only beloved but absolutely essential in the development of a white person." These people can be tremendously pretentious, particularly when all you want to do is see the rest of freakin' Canada (honeymoon!).

#22: Having Two Last Names - Again, think of all the non-whites with two last names. Not many, eh?

#27: Marathons - I know a few people that are just nutty for marathons. And, for some reason, I could not stop laughing at "If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players. It's not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial."

#29: '80s Night - At every college pub at every college in North America, you will find an '80s night, usually before the end of October.

#31: Snowboarding - "Assuming that you can wear any winter jacket when you go snowboarding is a common mistake that can lead to wealthy white children laughing at you from the chairlift." I am not a snowboarder by any means (or a skier), but I have felt this pain.

#35: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart/The Colbert Report - We really are in love with these shows, aren't we?

#38: Arrested Development - I'm not a big fan, but really, white people love this show. Can you imagine if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert guest starred?

#40: Apple products - Guilty.

#41: Indie Music - Oh, GOD yes. "To a white person, being a fan of a band before it gets popular is one of the most important things they can do with their life." Also, this section included "What Are White People Listening To?", in the form of a 4GB iPod with a playlist that includes the following albums:

  • Funeral by The Arcade Fire

  • Let it Be by the Beatles

  • Tigermilk by Belle and Sebasttian

  • London Calling by The Clash

  • Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan

  • In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel (total white person band)

  • Ys by Joanna Newsom

  • Slanted and Enchanted by Pavement

  • Doolittle by The Pixies ("All white people love the Pixies. Period.")

  • Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest

  • The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground
Yep, sounds pretty spot on.

#42: Sushi - Yeah, we're pretty queer for it. "To them, it's everything they want: foreign culture, expensive, healthy, and hated by the 'uneducated'." Seriously, sushi is mad expensive, but it's so worth it.

#47: Liberal Arts Degrees - At the end of high school, I was advised to enrol in a Liberal Arts program instead of "settling" for journalism at Humber. God damned education that can lead to jobs!

#49: Vintage - Oh yes.

#50: Irony - Again, oh yes.

#55: Apologies - You might not think so, but consider this: "In fact, white people are so used to apologizing that they start all sentences that might cause disagreement with 'I'm sorry.'" Admit it, you do.

#58: Japan - In elementary school, people were crazy for Japan. In high school, people were crazy for Japan. Even in college, when you would think it'd gotten kinda cliché, people were crazy for Japan. One girl at Georgian wanted to go to a specific part of Japan that had a climate nearly identical to Canada!! Now that is an effective use of $2,000!

#59: Natural Medicine - Ahem: "Note: It's weird that there are some white people who won't take aspirin but will take Ecstacy, cocaine, Xanax, and Vicodin." I agree entirely (although, not really the E or coke, that hasn't really been too prevalent, I suppose). I've seen many a medicine cabinet overflowing with natural remedies, and one bottle of some sort of highly addictive opiate-based painkiller. But no aspirin - everybody takes aspirin.

#61: Bicycles - Sorry Wade, but I've gotta quote this: "It is important that you never question why someone needs a $5,000 bicycle, since the answer is always 'performance.'" Seriously, it always is.

#62: Knowing What's Best for Poor People - Sally Struthers to the rescue.

#67: Standing Still at Concerts - That's how I roll!

#70: Difficult Breakups - Is it me, or are white people always in some sort of a crisis relationship?

#72: Study Abroad - I believe I've brought this up several times. And, for Nad and Miranda: "Study abroad allows people to leave their current educational institute and spend a semester or a year in Europe or Australia. Though study abroad is offered to other places, these are the overwhelming favorites."

#74: Oscar Parties - Been to 'em.

#77: Musical Comedy - Weird Al, Stephen Lynch, Bowser & Blue, The Doowops, Tenacious D, Flight of the Conchords, Denis Leary (I'm an Asshole-eo-eo-o-eo), Adam Sandler, etc. etc.

#80: The Idea of Soccer - I actually got to this point in the book right before the Euro final, when everyone I talked about it with pretty much proved this one. You can pretty much assume any Manchester United fan not from Manchester falls under this category.

#82: Hating Corporations - "WARNING: When engaging in a conversation about corporate evils it is important to never, ever mention Apple computers, Target or IKEA in the same breath as the companies mentioned earlier. White people prefer to hate corporations that don't make stuff they like." Yep, got a problem with that?

#83: Bad Memories of High School - I actually remember high school (mostly) fondly, but I know the "bad" memories exist.

#88: Having Gay Friends - There's a law that within 36 hours, if you meet and befriend a gay person, you will tell your friends, even if it doesn't come up in conversation.

#89: St. Patrick's Day - "His [St. Patrick's] ascetic life is celebrated every year by white people drinking large amounts of Irish-themed alcohol and listening to the Dropkick Murphys." It is a pretty obnoxious holiday.

#91: San Francisco - Not applicable to my life, but it's essentially "Vancouver" for Canadians. Everyone wants to move to BC. When they get there, what do they find? Fifty thousand people from Ontario.

#94: New Balance Shoes - "Seriously, the next time you are at a casual party where guests are encouraged to take off their shoes, take a look by the door at the veritable rainbow of New Balance sneakers." It's true! Working at Sport Mart, I see it even more, but "white" people (the people this book is talking about) will always at least try on a pair of New Balances, regardless of what they're looking for.

#97: Red Hair - I mention this part only because he says: "'We are going to beat that other team like a redheaded stepchild.'" Bravo, sir. Bravo.

#100: Boston Red Sox - Fucking Red Sox.

#101: Scarves - Gay guys like 'em, white people like 'em. Anybody else? Nope, didn't think so.

#102: Cleanses - Done 'em, enjoyed 'em, discussed 'em.

#103: Self-Deprecating Humor - Very common, but dangerous if overused - you just sorta come off as whiny if you are a little too self-deprecating.

#106: The Criterion Collection - Two words: Chris Nash.

#108: High School English Teacher - Think of your favourite high school teacher. Was s/he an English teacher? Yeah, s/he was.

#109: Native Wisdom - Cherokee Hair Tampons. 'Nuff said.

#113: Che Guevara - Allow me to paint a picture of Stephen Gill, in the words of Christian Lander: "For bonus points, some white people like to pair the Che T-shirt with a sport coat and a pair of jeans." I'm going to go look through Steve's pictures on Facebook after this, and I can guarantee I can find a suitable picture.

#116: Subtitles - Again, Chris Nash, but there are a lot of us that qualify here. However, one very good point is made: "The simplest rule to follow is that every foreign film is good. Amazingly, in the history of cinema, the only truly awful films ever produced have been in English." It's a good point, and allows me to say that Ong-bak sucked. He's avenging the theft of his elephant!

#120: Platonic Friendships - "These arrangements feature a white male who is in love with a white female who needs companionship or access to someone with a car." Yeeeeeeeah.

#123: Dave Chappelle - White dude's DVD collection - Arrested Development, The Chappelle Show, other stuff. Guaranteed.

#124: Tibet - I just like this thought:
"Many white people do not need to know the history of the situation in order to be passionate about the need for China to 'get out of Tibet.' Unlike many other problems that have exceptionally complex solutions (global hunger, poverty, the environment), Tibet presents a rather clear-cut solution and is much easier to support blindly."

They really do think that. How many non-whites did you see in all the crowds that are (for some reason still) protesting the Olympics. I know people that are going, fuck you if you want to take that away from them.

#125: Nintendo Wii - We LOVE it!

#127: The Simpsons - Got a problem with The Simpsons? Listen, you can take it up with me and these 700 million white people if you want. No? Didn't think so.

#128: Avoiding Confrontation - Goes with the "Apologies" one.

#129: DJs - I only mention this one for this line: "White people prefer the word spin because is sounds cooler than 'choosing songs for people to listen to.'" I know people that say "spin"!

#132: Not Having Cash - The exceptions to the rule are Mannie and her mum. Wade and I are the rule.

#136: Singer-songwriters - "White people enjoy hearing about others who have gone through problems similar to theirs and like to try to match them to their own lives." Ladies and gentlemen, John Mayer.

#139: Music Festivals - Just read this first paragraph and tell me it doesn't sound familiar:

Imagine spending three days in a tent, but instead of being surrounded by nature you are surrounded by mud, oppressive heat, loudspeakers, and thousands of white people swaying with their eyes closed. Many people would call this "hell," "a nightmare that won't end," or "some sort of sci-fi zombie scenario that is worse than anything we could ever imagine." White people call this a "music festival" and will pay large amounts of money for the experience.

#149: Self-importance - As I post on my blog.

#150: Rock Climbing - Almost universally white person enjoyed.

Crap, I used a lot more than I expected; sorry it's so long.

But, seriously, get this book. It's cheap ($16.50), it was a really funny read, and it really does make you think about everything you do and see and just how many white people are involved.

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