Christian beliefs

The author of Stuff White People Like rates Inner Westies!

After having been officially sanctioned hate objects for the duration of the Howard years, you’d think we latte-belt elitists would have had enough of being slagged off. But if hits on Christian Landers’ blog, sales of the resulting book, and attendances at his recent Sydney Writers’ Festival lectures are anything to go by, we urban progressives love nothing more than being mocked as the Fair Tradecoffee drinking, Mad Men-watching, vintage T-shirt wearing, fixed-gear bike riding, yoga-practicing vegetarians we truly are. At the end of his recent field trip Down Under (which, of course, included a visit to Newtown) we asked the author of Stuff White People Like what he made of the locals…

How do Australian white people compare to their foreign cousins?

“Since I’m writing about a very specific type of white person, they tend to be the same wherever you go. Though you guys do have some fantastic slang, specifically ‘try-hard’. Australians were interested in trying to see if I could pick up on any Aussie eccentricities. This was particularly funny for me as a Canadian since we always ask the same thing from Americans.”

Australian white people like to congratulate themselves on having a sense of proportion and irony lacking in their earnestly PC American counterparts. Is this smugness justified?

“It’s tough to make a conclusive judgement. I spent all of my time in Sydney and Melbourne, which probably gives me a very skewered view. It would be like only visiting New York and San Francisco and making a judgement on the US. (Huge gay population! Great art scene! So many heroin addicts!)”

Do you think Aussies and Canadians share a comic sensibility?

“There are many similarities. In both cases the countries are able to recognise their size relative to the rest of the world and that brings about a certain sense of self-deprecation and humor that can be hard to develop in America which is a true super power. Being Canadian means that you have to be an observer because you know that the rest of the world isn’t watching you, so it’s probably a good idea for you to watch them and make a funny comment.”

Did you get to partake of any white person activities in Australia?

“I almost bought an awesome cardigan at a vintage shop but, alas, it didn’t fit. I was unable to ride a bike, but in true white person fashion I was able to criticise a number of fixed-gear bikes for not being as cool as mine.”

Do you ever worry you’re handing ammo to the culture warriors of the Right?

“I think that it’s important to make sure that the Left is capable of being satirised. Anyone who spends this much time patting themselves on the back and reaffirming just how correct they are needs to be reminded that they can be wrong or pretentious. So I don’t think I’m giving ammo to the Right, but reminding the Left that we can be assholes too.”

What do you make of your success with the very demographic you’re lampooning?

“Self-deprecating humor is in the book [as one of the things white people like]. So it’s pretty covered. Usually people who don’t get the book or the blog are the wrong kind of white people or… what’s the word? Idiots.”