It nailed me! It really did. My eyes ran through the entire list and again, and again I sighed and thought that’s me. That’s me. Dang. Me. Me. Me.
I felt exposed and typical—a feeling no one, me included, likes to experience. We think we are each special, and then here comes Mister Satirical Blogger to shoot our authenticity out of the water.
A couple weeks ago, I was referred to stuffwhitepeoplelike.com by a friend, a white friend, who thinks the site is endlessly witty. He checks it everyday for updates. It is witty, no doubt. This humorous new blog is ragingly popular. Rumors have been running for the past few days about a $350,000 deal that the author of the website was offered to make a book of the same name. The Canadian blogger behind the site says that the essence of the blog is a scientific study of white people and the things that they enjoy. Hardly. Though I’m not on the up-and-up about the scientific community and its breaking news, I feel confident that the idea of this blog being scientific is as satirical as the content.
The blog has almost one hundred entries so far. One gets churned out every other day or so. The topics are decently well-written and hip-- Whole Foods, Not Having a TV, Gondry films, and T-shirts are a few. Posts range from things white people like to wear, like shorts on the first warmish day after winter, to things they like to do, like raising multi-lingual children or going to law school, to objects and people groups that they value and covet, like Asians girls and vintage anything.
Right off the bat, after having read a handful of posts or having scanned the full list, one realizes that this blog does not “study” all white people, at all. It primarily exposes typical young, upper-middle-class white people, the kind of people who care about things like organic cotton clothing, or getting graduate degrees in the arts for no efficient reason, the kind of people who would read this blog… and check it everyday.
Is it racist? That is the easiest question to raise about SWPL. And the easiest answer? No.
The blog, though written with an utter disdain for the consumerism and pseudo-intellectualism exhibited by this group of people, which is revealed in the praise of the topic-of-the-day and the bit of faux-advice about how to talk to white people about said topic in order to get in good with them, reveals a culture rather than spreads hate. It is a semi-outside look into their current obsessions. It hints at what these things mean about white people, but never casts an absolute judgment on them. For all of its eye-rolling, and the eye-rolling it causes its greater community of readers, it is thought-provoking. It causes one to reconsider the lifestyle choices one has made, through the eyes of someone less conditioned to think that those were necessary and important choices. Is organic worth the extra money? Is the good execution of an elaborate dinner party a matter of life and death? Are lawyers really a necessity for everyone?
In the wake of the increase of the conversation about race, much has been speculated about SWPL.com and its contributions to the discussion, and its effect on the way race is perceived. Little will be added to those ideas in this review, suffice to say that putting white people at the brunt of a type of joke usually aimed at minorities is only as fulfilling as the level at which the content is taken as humor. Extending the meaning to overly-transcendent levels is ridiculous and a waste of time. The content is not hateful to white, nor hateful to other ethnicities by way of drawing a contrast. There is not anything inherently racist about the blog, nor is it intended to follow in Senator Obama’s recent footsteps of showing whites to be in similar shoes as other minorities—whether by revealing their immigration hardships, or putting them at the mercy of a punch line, a place almost every other people group has been relegated to at some time or another.
The bottom and most simple line is that it is entertaining to consider how alike most young, Caucasian people with money are, when what it appears that they most want, is to be unique. We all push forward through life with a deepening understanding of our own capability to reason and hope that all of the choices we make separate us from the unreasoned paths of life that we could have been on. Realizing that one’s life is, to put it plainly, common, and that one can easily be typified into a group is startling, but beneficial. After a long consideration of this blog and a few laughs, the man who benefits from it the most will be the reflective man, who realizes with humility that he cannot escape his culture, and that his struggle to do so only intertwines him with his culture more and more deeply. Maybe that is not so bad. It can’t be if it’s inevitable. We cannot separate ourselves from the world we are born into. We work with it, laugh about it, and get on with our living.