Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuff _______ Like(s)

Wowzers, it's funny when an idea takes off, huh? Like the bizarre and growing world of lolcats, lolruses, lolpresidents, and all manner of other lolcreatures before it, the new-fangled phenomena of Stuff ____ Like(s) is, apparently, the new black.

As the big daddy blog that started it all, Stuff While People Like burst into so many of our lives earlier this year, documenting the obsessions of white folks with entries on hilarious topics such as "Knowing What's Best for Poor People," "Kitchen Gadgets," and "The Idea of Soccer." The precision of their wit was remarkable, and the accuracy of their commentary hit home in that way that makes you go... hmm, then laugh out loud. Still, a good phenomena can't help but be co-opted in this internet age, hence I have learned in the last week of two new sub-sites that use the same mold (and the same layout) to talk about Stuff _____ Like(s). They are:

Stuff Hill People Like
This is the first sub-site I heard about, through a friend on Facebook, and it provides a nice case study in how these phenomena can spin off into oddness. The Hill People version is either one of two things:

a. it's a niche thing, that is hilarious to the hill people, and who cares what anybody else thinks
b. it attempts to make the eccentricities of the hill available and funny to people beyond it.

Even as someone who lived in DC for awhile, and is quite a political junkie (although I recognize there's a difference between being a political junkie and part of the crowd up on the hill) I think it fails at this second one. One strength here, is that since the "Hill People" in question are, in fact a crowd, this page can use an angle SWPL often does, discussing how you can use knowledge of what white people (or hill people) like to make conversation with them.

Our second example is, perhaps more interesting.

Stuff Nobody Likes

The banner atop this blog displays some obvious choices for things nobody likes (Hitler, Cold Sores, Taxes), but their impressive list of posts displays an eclectic eye for choosing a mixture of the obvious, the absurd, and occasionally very pointed topics. I literally just got wind of this site today, so I'll be flipping around a bit later to read more and develop a more informed opinion, but so far it seems like it could make for some good fun.

In the end... I have a feeling that before the end of the summer we will have seen dozens of new Stuff ________ Like(s) sites pop up for niche groups (Stuff Hindus Like, Stuff Furries Like, Stuff Your Mom Likes) as well as new angles (Stuff White People Cringe At, Stuff Bill Clinton Licks, Stuff Aliens Probe)... but maybe it will all fizzle out leaving SWPL to continue their stream of hilarity.


Check out an interesting take on Stuff White People Like over at Stamford Talk.


Matthew said...

I LOVE that what the woman is eating in the picture in this article from on stuff nobody likes. I'll go ahead and admit that it made me lol.


elizabeth said...

i know you're not trying to mess with LOLcats... those are some funny cats, dude.

John said...

Oh, don't get me wrong her, I loves me some lolcats, lolruses, etc. I just think I've maybe seen some sad derivatives lately. The lolspeak is an art.

Lambira said...

I'm just amazed that there are that many people skilled in Photoshop or whatever that can put so many cats in peril...

narthan said...

I always thought White People would be a little less disingenuous if the phrase "white people" were replaced by "my parents" or "the people at college who I wasn't really friends with" or even "my bitch ex girlfriend." The humor is often sharp, but it sometimes seems like an ax is being ground somewhere between the lines.

Stamford Talk said...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr John! I am trying to forget SWPL! Stuff Nobody Likes better be better than SWPL, which I hate.
I actually posted about it at my blog this morning before I saw your post.
Again: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

John said...

I just left this comment over at Stamford Talk... and figured it belonged here too:

How wonderful that this is on our minds simultaneously, and I think it's fun and fascinating to look at the different ways SWPL resonates. I’ve got some thoughts I’ll try to brief with.

Let me start with some identity admissions: I'm a mid-twenties white kid from the suburbs of Philly. My family never had tons of cash to throw around (my mom is a minister, my dad worked for the navy), but I also don't think I lacked for opportunities. I went to good public schools, attended a private college, where I was the punk kid on campus (dyed my hair every color you can imagine, studied math, then when math got boring switched to philosophy). I have worked in nonprofits and the like my whole professional career. I think I'm a pretty creative guy, and I would like to think I've got an interesting take on the world around me. I would claim to be far from a yuppie, but I could be really wrong on that one... I dunno.

What I do know, is that when I started reading SWPL I was struck by how often they hit things I like. That said, I also take it completely as a joke and something to be taken fairly lightly, so looking at some of the media coverage, I would tend to agree that the media angle on SWPL is pretty bizarre.

What I enjoy most about the site is the tongue-in-cheek tone when they get to saying, “now here’s how you can use this new knowledge to get in with white people.” This air of advice is actually what I most often find really hilarious about the site.

In your post today you briefly mentioned a comparison to shows like Best Week Ever, and I think that comparison could be a good one. I enjoy reading other blogs like Wonkette, where they take news about politicians and DC happenings and toss them up in sarcastic and completely scathing ways. Just today they took a video camera to the National Portrait Gallery in DC and posed the question, “is Steven Colbert well hung?” to various people. I think there’s a brand of humor that often is described as snarky, where the bread-and-butter is sarcastic observation. Sometimes it rings true, others hollow, but overall it works when it comes through as somewhat detached, yet accurate.

Back to SWPL, I think they hit the mark sometimes and at others they don’t. I typically scan entries and skip a good few. When I am drawn to one by the title they are fairly good about 2/3 of the time. I think one positive of Stuff Nobody Likes is that it has no demographic, hence it isn’t open to people overanalyzing it as a tool for understanding some group. All in all, I think the whole realm is aimed at good fun, if at any time it isn’t enjoyable, it’s a complete waste of your time. Hence, if you don’t like it, I could see how you would quickly become frustrated by it.