Plenty of white people found something to love about the hit website Stuff White People Like. Oliver Lee Bateman wasn’t one of them.
As anybody who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past half-decade knows, there’s this really popular website called Stuff White People Like. It has begotten a couple of books that appear to sell reasonably well on Amazon (where white people like to shop), and I think there’s a better-than-zero chance it will become a movie starring Shia LaBeouf as a white guy (which white people would wait to watch on Netflix or Qwikster or whatever it’s called these days) or a CBS sitcom starring Matthew Perry as a white guy (which white people would refuse to watch if it were filmed using a multi-camera setup or had a laugh track).
It’s pretty obvious, then, that Stuff White People Like is something that many white people like. In fact, given its smashing success, it’s probably safe to say that it’s something that at least a few white people love. So why hasn’t Stuff White People Like published an entry about itself? Why haven’t its editors — in the interest of obviating any charge of hypocrisy from bleeding-heart critics like yours truly — deigned to discuss how much white people like poking gentle fun at themselves in a way that nevertheless fails to shake their smug sense of cultural superiority?
Because there’s no need. Facing up to the facts isn’t among all that cool stuff that white people like. Instead, it’s something that many white people actively refuse to do. How else could one explain the dysfunctional, implicitly race-based American criminal justice system described with such eloquence and conviction in Michelle Alexander’s recent book The New Jim Crow? Might this also help us understand the lack of national outrage over the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago? At any rate, it’s obvious that facing up to the facts isn’t nearly as fun as facing one of those stylish HD screens popularized by the late, lamented — at least on the Twitter feeds of millions of white people — Thomas Edison of our age, Steve Jobs.
Nor is that wretched old Tea Party — which is composed almost entirely of angry white people — among the various iPhone apps and kombucha teas that white people like. Most people in the sophisticated Stuff White People Like reading audience wouldn’t be caught within 50 miles of one of these wingnuts. Even if their outrage is genuine and many of their complaints are legitimate, such loopy moonbats are beneath mockery. With their pitchforks and misspelled protest signs and silly Walmart “USA #1” trucker hats (an item that hasn’t been liked by discerning white people since 2005 or so), they’re a reminder of how déclassé white people used to be before they became couth and started liking great stuff.
No, these readers need nothing more than a tame critique of their slavish worship of expensive pug dogs and the bland comedy of noted ginger and failed “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien. They want, to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, “a little poison now and then that makes for pleasant dreams — and much poison at the end for a gentle death.” Stuff White People Like is therefore the perfect solution to a problem of no importance whatsoever: How should people who have discovered happiness — their pug dogs, Steve Jobs-inspired screens, Conan O’Brien quips — pass the time? For these people, the hard questions posed by the union organizers of the 1930s and the urban radicals of the 1960s are no more. “What is quaint and vintage and now and with it and hopefully on sale — relatively speaking — at Anthropologie? Where is the artisanal chocolate? What is going on back in Williamsburg or Portland or somewhere hip like that?”
In other words, Stuff White People Like writes stuff that I can’t stand. That doesn’t mean I haven’t laughed at it — man, I’ve laughed at plenty of bad jokes, from the brahsome Dane Cook’s ridiculous gyrations to that genuinely awe-inspiring scene where the nerdy kid humps the apple pie. But this hipster-created website strikes me as insincere, much like most of the stuff it skewers. It’s not controversial or soul-crushingly sad or outré — not that all humor should be, but good humor almost always is — and amounts to nothing more than a barrage of ostensibly self-deprecating jokes at the expense of pseudo-cynical readers who are always in on the gag, always ready for all-American boy John Krasinski’s knowing wink to the crowd, always up for something that’s guaranteed to not challenge their exquisite tastes and refined prejudices in the least.
But I take heart in one encouraging fact that may spell the end of Stuff White People Like’s reign of terror on the World Wide Web (which appears to have ended years ago, anyway, given how fast the ‘net moves from Feminist Ryan Goslinging to Tebowing to FaithHilling): Census data indicates that white people now constitute a much smaller percentage of the U.S. population than they once did, and the trend appears likely to continue. Maybe fertility is something that many white people don’t like. All I can state with confidence about that statistic, however, is that there will eventually be fewer white people around to like all this worthless stuff and then giggle along to blog entries about how silly they are for liking it.