Stuff White People Like: Coldplay

My daily life exists on reading and responding to emails sent by friends. Recently I received an email with a link to Vanity Fair. If you remember this blog's name and its initial post all deal with my love affair with that magazine and I've done a few pieces afterwards. My title even used to be Vanity is still a fair but it just got a little darker or something like that. Anyways, building off all the discussion on website Stuff White People Like (for a breakdown see Racialicious piece here) and the myriad of other sites that have emerged since its founding. There have been a variety of views concerning these websites. Some find they too stereotyping or as a way of building barriers. I find them hilarious and a way of showing how all this race jazz is so constructed (of course on sound historical issues that won't go away overnight or even over-decade) and that whiteness is not a norm, but a constructed ideal as well.

So I bring to you Vanity Fair's coverage of the book/blog, Stuff White People Like. Please read and laugh at this coverage of Coldplay, just the type of band that brings about discussion like this and also the fact that it is the poorer whites who really know what's up. That could mean a myriad of things, but I'll just continue to laugh at the notion that your approval or disapproval of Chris Martin can somehow determine your race. I feel like a lot of people are missing the satirical nature of this, which I guess could be an issue.

Unless of course the guy isn't trying to be funny when he says this is a scientific approach. Then I say we all go read Bruce Dain's A Hideous Monster of the Mind and cry.

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* Culture
* | Music

Stuff White People Like: Coldplay
by Vanity Fair
June 16, 2008, 8:11 PM

ColdplayOn July 1, 2008, Random House will publish Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, based on the insanely popular blog of the same name. In a remarkable coincidence, June 17, 2008, is the release date of Coldplay’s new album, Viva La Vida. asked Christian Lander—author of the blog and the new book—to deconstruct the band’s white fan base.

It is easy to think that all white people love Coldplay. However, if you assume this you will miss a great opportunity to dig beneath the surface of white people and learn how to really get inside their heads. By understanding a white person’s feelings toward the band, you can evaluate, recognize, and eventually exploit the type of white person you are dealing with.

White people who list Coldplay as their favorite band are what we will call “basic” level white. Chances are that they discovered the band a few years ago and have attended at least one concert. Their knowledge of music is very limited, and there is a 100 percent chance that they also like U2. If you need to befriend one of these people, just tell them that X&Y helped you get through a difficult breakup. They will understand.

If you mention the band to a white person and that white person rolls their eyes, you are likely dealing with a “standard” level white person. The way to know for sure is to say, “I consider the band to be a guilty pleasure.” A favorable reaction indicates that your white person is indeed standard level. For the most part, these people are either former fans (“I liked Parachutes when it came out”) or very reluctant fans (“Yeah, I guess ‘The Scientist’ is a good song”). Though they may appear more standoffish than basic level white people, they are far easier to manipulate once you know their secret.

Due to its big, sweeping sound, Coldplay’s music is perfect for montages about relationships in television and film. Because of this, many white people have listened to a Coldplay song on their iPod while looking out the window of an airplane or car, imagining that they are acting out a scene from a movie about their life. It is their secret shame and it is strongly recommended that you never bring it up with them. Instead you should direct the conversation to white hero Gwyneth Paltrow and her choice of baby names. This is guaranteed to put a white person in a good mood.

It is important to be aware that an affinity for Coldplay can cause an immediate loss of respect among “advanced” level white people. The best way to earn the trust of these people is to say “Coldplay is this generation’s U2.” (Note: this is an insult.) Advanced level white people are often the poorest white people in terms of money but the richest in terms of credibility and respect.

Knowing how to use Coldplay to your advantage will be one of your main assets as you climb the white social ladder.

Photograph by Stephan Craneanscki.


  1. Snarky, but on target. Hate Coldplay -- they're like a 70's AOL tune you can't get away from -- and am white as a ghost. But also over 40, so thought maybe I was just turning into a grouch. Thanks for the validation.


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