Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Take Five: Things Bugging Me About Stuff White People Like

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 27, 2008

A blog riot of our own

Races–they have different cultures, don’t you know. What’s more, these differences have been known to be isolated and occasionally exaggerated to comedic effect, by such luminaries as Dave Chappelle, Jeff Foxworthy, and Whoever Makes That British Show About Indian People in the UK Whose Name I Forget. It’s a time-honored tradition, one responsible for countless classic buddy comedy movies and a disturbingly high percentage of the decent stand-up comedy out there, and let not we here at Intensities in Ten Suburbs take it upon ourselves to be among the first to call the merits of this comedic sub-genre into question.

However, recently the Internet has reared its ugly head with one of the more troublesome forays into this tradition. A blog entitled Stuff White People Like, which no doubt you IITS readers have been hip to for far longer than I have, has gained a fair amount of notoriety for its claims to document the titular category. Responses have been unsurprisingly mixed, ranging from “It’s true! It’s true! We’re SOOOOO LAME!“-types to reactions more along the lines of “You’re a c*nt and your blogs sucks. ed. note – I had to add a * to this comment to keep it clean.” (Ok, that one might’ve been taken verbatim from their comments page).

Personally, I do have to give it up for some of the entires–Threatening to Move to Canada, 80s Night, and Microbreweries are all at least mildly on point in their cleverness and insight, and their list of the Top Ten Hip Hop Songs That White People Love is destined to make just about anyone shudder with its tragic accuracy. But on the whole, the site is far from perfect, and occasionally borders on the offensive (and not even in the slightly admirable shocking way, but just the irritating, lazy way). The five least ingratiating things:

  • It Assumes That All White People are Posh Hipsters. Admittedly, I don’t have the best understanding of economics and demographic breakdowns and whatnot, but I’m pretty sure there are some white people out there that didn’t go to college (much less travel abroad), prefer steak and potatoes to sushi, have seen Road House more times than all of Wes Anderson’s movies combined and are more likely to get into bar brawls than they are to get into Yoga. Or have we found out a way to force minorities into all of our blue-collar working positions? Score another one for the white guys, I suppose.
  • It Assumes That All White People are Northerners. Uh, NASCAR? Smokey and the Bandit? Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”? You don’t get much whiter than these southern cultural touchstones, and there’s hundreds more where those came from, below the Mason-Dixon line. But everyone already knows how ridiculous those crazy honkys are, so no point in noting their more pitiful foibles, right? Plus, start to acknowledge that white people exist outside of New York and the Ivy Leagues, and you have to acknowledge that 95% of America, regardless of race, have absolutely no idea who Michel Gondry is.
  • It Gets Really, Really Lazy. Coffee? Plays? Having Two Last Names? I don’t really get how white people have a lock on any of these particular pursuits. And when they’re running low on something creative to right about, SWPL just brings up something supposed to be overly-conscious, like “Awareness” or “Knowing What’s Best for Poor People” or just something blanketly upper-class like “Wine” or “Arts Degrees”. And the one on “Divorce” is just bizarre.
  • It Lacks Parity. Stuff Black People Like? Stuff Taiwanese People Like? Stuff Transsexuals Like? Stuff Strippers-Turned-Bloogers Like? If it’s OK to do one of ’em, it should be OK to do all of ’em. C’mon, have the courage of your convictions.
  • It Simultaneously Ignores and Confirms The One Thing That White People Do Truly Love the Most. Making yourself seem cool and superior by being effacing about your race.

Missing the point? Maybe. Sucking the fun out of it? Hopefully. But if you’re gonna call your blog Stuff White People Like and purport to deliver as such, you had better come correct. And despite what certain members of other cultures may think, it doesn’t do that nearly enough.

12 Responses to “Take Five: Things Bugging Me About Stuff White People Like”

  1. Al said

    You missed the point.

    On the literal tip, and I’ve noticed this in the comments to the blog as well: because it is called “Stuff White People Like” does not mean it has to aim itself at ALL white people. It’s really aimed at the young, arrogant and urbane white people who come from too much money and have too much time on their hands. The type of people who wear scarves indoors (possible future post fodder) and attend bar trivia like church.

    So-called ‘White Trash’ (i.e., NASCAR folks) has gotten absolutely trashed by our culture over the last few years. For God’s skae, the essential premise of “Talladegga Nights” was that white folks from the South are intolerant retards. It’s nice to see that someone is fighting back a little. The way young and urbane white people assert their points and lifestyles like god damn gospel has gotten old. Hopefully, the blog will raise the self-awareness of this loathsome subset of white culture by an ounce or so.

  2. intensities said

    Well if that is the point, then I can’t say I’m too upset to be missing it. This “loathsome subset of white culture” needs to be taken down a peg about as much as big business and commercial Hollywood does–just because they’re in a position of superiority doesn’t mean that pretty much all of America (including themselves, arguably) doesn’t know how full of shit they are. What’s more, if SWPL is on the sort of mission that you’re ascribing to it here, I’d be curious what makes them better, or even different, than their subjects. Do they not eat anywhere but fast food restaurants? Are they staunchly republican? Have they discovered music that they can support that neither makes them look classically White or iconoclastically White? Or does SWPL just want to have it both ways–to be taken as clever, message-driven satire, but whenever pushed to really back up their position with solutions or answers, to just say “c’mon, it’s just a joke blog, don’t take it so literally/seriously”?

    I might also posit that there are issues out there more worthwhile than making rich white people feel self-conscious about attending Oscar parties.

    I might also posit that the great majority of this blog’s readers (and undoubtedly its writer) are “guilty” of more of a few of these Transgressions of Caucasianity.

  3. Al said

    Yes, a lot of white people, including myself, are ‘guilty’ of the transgressions laid out by the blog. And I am not sure the author is even suggesting that he/she is better than its subjects. To me, the reason this subset is being satirized is because they truly believe they are the most enlightened. And “the stuff” they’ve chosen to like is not necessarily what they actually like, but a way to show how superior they are to others. So, in a way, the blog points out how much of a fraud some of these people are. Then there are things on the list that truly kind of suck (e.g., co-ed sports, expensive sandwiches, Juno, Sarah Silverman) that I am happy to see acknowledged as such. In any event, the blog has covered almost everything already, so I don’t know how much punch it will have going forward.

  4. intensities said

    Placekicking?

  5. Josh said

    I admire your efforts to leave no stone unturned, but I think you’re taking this a little too seriously. I’ve forwarded the site to a couple of friends already, but not on the premise of “omg, this is the funniest shit ever” but rather just to share a gentle collective chuckle or two at our shared predictability in certain areas. And while not every entry’s a winner, there are some rather wryly spot-on observations here, like:

    “If you are in a situation where a white person produces an empty bottle, watch their actions. They will first say “where’s the recycling?” If you say “we don’t recycle,” prepare for some awkwardness. They will make a move to throw the bottle away, they will hesitate, and then ultimately throw the bottle away. But after they return look in their eyes. All they can see is the bottle lasting forever in a landfill, trapping small animals. It will eat at them for days, at this point you should say “I’m just kidding, the recycling is under the sink. Can you fish out that bottle?” And they will do it 100% of the time!”

  6. Greg said

    If it’s really trying to knock these people down a peg, then it’s really failing, since I’ve noticed about 90% of the audience and fans of this site are hip, educated, middle class liberals themselves. This is just a group trying to make itself seem cooler by pointing out how uncool and predictable they are, that’s all.

  7. jonathan said

    I don’t know about this Al character posting here. How is it possible to come from “too much money” or to have “too much time on your hands”? And what’s so bad about expensive sandwiches? They’re sandwiches (awesome), and also expensive (again, awesome). What do you have against money and sandwiches, Al?

  8. Jack H. said

    Isn’t one of the posts on the blog on “irony”? Because somehow I think that the people writing the blog have somehow succeeded in “ironic-ing” themselves and all detractors of the blog into oblivion. I don’t know how thee did it. But they did. And it annoys me that someone can be so saucily and offensively ironic.

    Basically, I like it and hate it all at the same time.

    And I think the one on Assists is pretty damn funny.

  9. Jack said

    I don’t know what to do with that site. It’s funny, but not that funny. It’s obviously rooted in irony, but I can’t tell just how ironic it is. Trivia Nights are fucking awesome, though.

  10. Mitchell Stirling said

    The equivalent of this gentle mocking in the UK can be seen here

    http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/travelog/2008/02/skins_blog.html

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