Top positive review
56 people found this helpful
More insightful than ever - oh, and still funny.
on December 12, 2010
Stuff White People Like is, to be blunt, something that very few people seem to get. It's not just an attack on hipsters, and it's certainly not racist, but rather, it's an attack on privilege. The 20 and 30-something upper-middle class kids Lander mocks benefit tremendously from their positions as children of the elite, and have created their own "culture" that reflects their pretensions by affirming their own uniqueness and artistic merit without requiring any real effort. It's also an attack on class (which Lander shows is bound up with race in this country - see the San Francisco white person), and repeatedly points out that in order to advance in a society controlled by the "right kind of white people," you have to parrot their views and affirm their (well-meaning, but sill patronizing) stereotypes, which is ironic considering how tolerant and open-minded they claim to be. This might sound bitter or partisan, but Lander is a young liberal who worked as a PhD student in Lit Crit, so he's as much a part of this group as anyone, and consequently is less hostile than you might imagine. As a member of the group satirized, I can say that while Lander is occasionally harsh, he never comes across as mean spirited, but mostly just disappointed, and even when he is slightly bitter he remains highly insightful.
Of course, all this belies the concern most people (rightly) have: Is this book funny, and is it worth purchasing when his website is free? To the first, I can say that he is indeed quite funny, and to the second, most of the best material was written for the book, so there's plenty of reason to check it out. The individual new entries are quite good (Duke Basketball, Losing Weight, Taxes, Punctuality, etc), but the best part is the addition of white people by city. The residents of a stereotypically "(right kind of) white" city (Portland, Austin, Asheville) are presented with an illustrated diagram, followed by a series of statements that analyze their strengths and weaknesses (Atlanta white person - might know a black guy, but takes jokes about the South personally, and has a Republican family).
Overall, most of the book is new material, and that new material is consistently funny (especially if you know people like this) while not lacking in valid criticisms of the people mocked. The only area in which this book is lacking is that it has no suggestions for how members of this demographic can better themselves and stop being so self-absorbed. Still, for anyone looking for a humorous (but not superficial) lampoon of race and class in North America, this book is great.