STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE….Writing about the blog Stuff White People Like (now available in book form!), Samhita Mukhopadhyay says in the Prospect that its power comes from the fact that for the first time it explicitly identifies white culture as a culture, not merely the default background of American life:

To be sure, not all white culture has escaped scrutiny. Jeff Foxworthy has been on the comedy circuit (and on TV) for decades. And what about Roseanne, or the Canadian show The Trailer Park Boys, or the Blue Collar Comedy Tour? True, this segment of pop culture examines working-class whiteness, often quite critically. What makes Stuff White People Like special is that it describes relatively wealthy white Americans, and in doing so, recognizes that their particular culture has been mainstreamed and presented by Hollywood as the norm.

I think this might explain why I never really appreciated SWPL much: it’s a generational thing. As Mukhopadhyay points out, SWPL isn’t really about mocking white people as a whole, it’s about mocking white yuppies, and for anyone my age this particular well was drained dry long, long ago. In the 80s and early 90s bookstores devoted entire shelves to books lampooning yuppies, standup comedians had a union rule prohibiting them from going more than 15 consecutive minutes without telling a yuppie joke, and Graydon Carter rode Spy to fame and fortune on the backs of yuppies and Donald Trump.

SWPL takes a different tack than its 80s forebears, and I’ve got nothing against it. Still, I have a feeling you need to be fairly young to consider this stuff fresh and subversive.

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