Christian Lander, originator of Stuff White People Like, is profiled in the Los Angeles Times today. It’s bad enough, of course, that we’ve already had an extensive discussion of whether or not it’s about race or class (Lander claims the latter), or whether or not it’s funny or lame (i think the consensus was more the latter); now it seems that he is One Of Us. That is, anthropologist (not freak). “Christian Lander, anthropologist of Stuff White People Like” reads the headline, “Christian Lander has turned his popular blog into a satiric ethnographic book.”
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the intuition that makes “anthropologist” work in this way. It’s obviously not Margaret Mead or Indy, our more conventional betes noires. In fact, there is something strangely on-target in this usage: the idea that anthropologists cleverly reveal the deep structure of the seemingly close at home or obvious. I’m not sure whether we should induct Lander or not… but if we had a real professional society representing us, maybe they would seize on this and leverage it something funny… maybe something about first contact with an isolated tribe of academics?