Sunday, May 10, 2009

Post-Hype: Christian Lander (Stuff White People Like)

After the mobs go away, I'm the only one who still cares...

That's not true, but I kind of wish that were the salacious smarmy tagline for this interview series premised on a simple idea: much better to talk to people after the hype cycle has buzzed on.

When I first interviewed Christian Lander, few knew his name: the L.A. Times was breaking the "who's behind the blog-sensation 'Stuff White People Like'" story the same day as me. I got him right at the cusp of his mainstream explosion (you'll notice the enthusiasm in sharing his link from Kanye). In only a few weeks Christian would have a huge book deal, and be restricted from even conducting more interviews. The book would be rushed to print, and amidst throngs of media critics predicting a quick crash-and-burn would go on to be one of the smartest publishing "gambles" of the year, becoming a NY Times Bestseller. All of that, from blog conception to dudes taking "gonna show my mom" pics, happened in less than a year ('08).

Now in 2009, I thought I'd check in and see if Christian's postpartum depressed or riding high or just trucking along or what. So here we go:

The Assimilated Negro (TAN): So you've posted, like, four times in the new year. That's slower than me! Also, quite a contrast to your torrid pace to start the blog. What are we thinking: burn out? too busy? end of the SWPL road? something else?

Christian Lander (CL): Part of it is definitely a burn out. I try to make sure that the posts and the topics are still accurate and funny, I have no interest in updating just for the sake of updating. I also just finished the Page-a-Day Calendar which is actually a lot more work than it sounds like and leads to an enormous burnout on talking about white people.

TAN: So I see the tour ended a month or two ago: Much success? How many stops you make? Good consistent turnout?

CL: There were actually three tours- Summer 2008, Fall 2008, Winter 2009. I've lost track of how many cities were there, but I feel like I hit almost every big city in America except for New York (who knows why). Every stop had an amazing turnout and it stayed consistent the whole way through.

TAN: There was some backlash at the time of the deal, but I do feel SWPL has sustained as a go-to reference/standard if a writer/blogger is accessing that classification. i.e. when you need a link to describe white people. Thoughts on that? Will it be forgotten eventually or stick

CL: It would be great if it sticks, but I never in a million years expected it to become as popular as it has. So if it completely fades away, that's just fine with me.

TAN: any networking with your offshoots (stuff blacks/asians like ... etc.) any word on if any of those blogs turned to books?

CL: I have nothing to do with the off-shoots, Stuff Midwesterners Like was published and Stuff Christian's Like is also going into publication soon.

TAN: What's been a bigger deal for you: getting the money or developing the platform?

CL:It's been absolutely amazing to have developed the platform. I still can't get over the popularity and it's been so much fun. Not to sound too pretentious but it's been a lifelong dream to have a book on the New York Times Best Seller list, to have achieved that is just incredible and it still blows my mind.

TAN: Are you earning out your deal? Is that a concern? You hear stories about books being successes but the size of the deal becoming an albatross.

CL: The book is doing very well.

TAN: What's one thing you have learned from the experience, that you could not have anticipated?

CL: Hard to say, I don't think I had any expectations going into this so I'm not sure what has been a surprise. I think I just never anticipated how big it eventually became and it's still strange how often I meet someone and when they find out that I wrote the blog/book, they are impressed. That's still pretty weird.

TAN: Other projects, future plans etc?

CL: The book has been optioned by Imagine Entertainment to become a TV show and I'm working on that along with a few other TV projects that I'm really hoping will pan out. But immediately next is a talk show this summer with Microsoft and Crispin, Porter Bogusky. It's going to be on-line, so it won't be the biggest thing in the world, but it's going to be a lot of fun.

Thanks, Christian.

Original SWPL Interview (pt. 1)
SWPL Interview (pt. 2)


  1. Good interview. My son picked up a copy of the book a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Can't front, I scoffed at first and then ended up purchasing a few copies as gifts last year.

  3. Anonymous5/11/2009

    What did ever happen with Stuff Black People Like and the rest? Seems like they should have at least gotten to publish. I'm fascinated by the Meme publishing industry.

  4. The book was solid, similar to the blog, but overall I never felt ripped off or cheated. It was mostly funny!


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