White people really like Good Will Hunting: An interview with blogger Christian Lander

Bostonians really, really like Good Will Hunting. We recently spoke via email with author Christian Lander of the famed blog — and subsequent book — Stuff White People Like. He has a new book called Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle’s Sweaters to Maine’s Microbrews. We asked him a few questions about his new book, Boston, and of course, Good Will Hunting.


Christian Lander (Photo credit: Jess Lander)

BLOG WILL HUNTING: Did your travels as a published author, perhaps on your first book tour, affect the way you see the (white) world? I was struck by the similarities — looking from your book tour dates to the cities you profile in the new book.

CHRISTIAN LANDER: Absolutely. Like most people I fell into a bubble of only visiting cities where I had close friends or were absolute must stops for white people (New York, San Francisco). I had a rough idea about the makeup and attitudes of these other cities but it wasn’t until I actually visited them that I realized that they were as predictable as me. Which is to say, very predictable.

Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle's Sweaters to Maine's MicrobrewsBWH: I suspect there are particular questions that authors get asked all the time. What is the quintessential question people ask of you at author talks?

CL: “Is there anyone who doesn’t get it?” And the answer is always yes. You can’t write about race, or you can’t write anything even close to satire without an drawing an audience that doesn’t get it.

BWH: Following up on that, I’d imagine you’ve been pitched some pretty esoteric blogs. Any that were particularly memorable?

CL: Not sure I’d call them esoteric. Most people won’t tell me their idea for a tumblr blog, they’ll just do it, and before you know it we have a site of “Cats that look look like this lesbian I know.” Boom. What I find are people who have done brilliant spin off sites: Stuff Educated Black People Like, Stuff Black People Hate, White Stuff People Like, etc.

Red Sox hat, from Whiter Shades of PaleBWH: I’m of course particularly interested in your Boston section. Why did you choose to kick off the book with Boston?

CL: I wish I could say I had a burning desire because I had my heart broken by a girl from Brookline or a particularly harsh rejection from Harvard. But the truth is when we were arranging the book we tried to do a rough geographical tour, and we figured we should start in the Northeast. After all, that’s exactly where white people started.

BWH: I feel like you sum up the Good Will Hunting phenomenon perfectly in your comment about Bostonians being “proud of their blue-collar roots” but “two generations is as close as they will ever get to a job requiring manual labor.” Matt and Ben made this film that was so intensely proud of its grittiness, and much is made of their true-blue Boston backgrounds, but they were Cambridge brats who were teachers’ kids and went to Cambridge Rindge and Latin. Assuming it wasn’t actually Damon and Affleck, what was your inspiration for this astute observation?

CL: The “Boston” movies help (Good Will Hunting, The Town, The Departed) and since I have a lot of friends from Boston (mostly classmates who I met at McGill), they all sort of take on this pride that Boston is somehow still a place where you can be white and tough and I guess sort of smart. It was fun to see people taking pride in these roots and then finding out that their parents were lawyers. It’s like when they call professional sports teams “blue collar.”

Harvard sweatshirt. Yet for some reason they are awkward about telling you they went to Harvard ("I went to school in Cambridge").

BWH: So… does Good Will Hunting fit? Is it something White People Like?

CL: Absolutely, because we all like to think we were smart enough to go to Harvard but chose not to.


Christian Lander at Harvard Book Store

Christian Lander will be signing books and speaking here in town, at Cambridge’s own Harvard Book Store, on Saturday, January 22.

Oh, and incidentally, here on Blog Will Hunting we’ve been known to whine “They got a book deal; why not me?” Check out our takes on LOLCats and Cake Wrecks.

Blog Will Hunting celebrates one year on the web, with cake wrecks

Ah yes, it was just a year ago when we first began blogging about Good Will Hunting here on Blog Will Hunting.

And as a part of our ongoing series THEY GOT A BOOK DEAL; WHY NOT ME, please enjoy a piece of birthday cake with us.

If a blog about ill-constructed cakes can get a book deal, why not a blog with brilliantly-constructed Good Will Hunting-themed cakes?


"How Do You Like Them Apples?" apple cake with brown sugar frosting and mini-cupcakes with red frosting

Many thanks to cake auteur Molly, who writes:

Well, it was supposed to be a “How Do You Like Them Apples?” Apple Cake, with Brown Sugar Frosting, with mini-cupcakes made to look like apples.  The cake recipe is from King Arthur Flour.  On the cake was a hand, holding a piece of paper with Skylar’s phone number. The background was decorated with cinnamon, and the paper made white with confectioner’s sugar, and the hand’s sleeve was green and black plaid. It was lovely.

But by the time it got to your house, it was a “Do you like apples? Well, I destroyed your cake on the 72 bus on the way over. How do you like THEM apples?” Apple Cake, with frosting mash. It was a literal cake wreck. I cried a little, just like I did the first time I saw Good Will Hunting.  Still tasted good, though.

Happy Birthday, Blog Will Hunting!


"Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian" Chocolate Cake
"Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian" yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting and cupcakes

Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian Cake

Thanks to cake creator Katherine, who ran into some cake-making issues, primarily fitting all Will’s fictional brothers onto one cake, explaining “I had to resort to cupcakes. Also, there was a giant sinkhole in ‘Danny’ that I could not, for the life of me, fix… no matter how much frosting i filled it with, it kept sinking in.”


And finally, to all you cake-makers and blog-readers…

It's not your  fault!

It's not your fault (the cake)
"It's Not Your Fault" yellow cake with vanilla frosting and red roses icing

Happy Birthday, Blog Will Hunting!

Introducing They Got a Book Deal; Why Not Me? — LOLMatts

Hello! Today Blog Will Hunting is pleased to introduce a new series we’re calling “They got a book deal; why not me??”

Blogs that became books

Perhaps the publishing deluge has slowed down in recent months, but for a while there it seemed that every blog that tipped into the pop cultural consciousness would proceed to fall into a big bucket of book deals.

These days, blogging advice sites are full of tips on how to get your own book deal (discover yourself! get an agent!), and the excellent blog Look At This Fucking Idea For a Blog-to-Book Deal is thriving.

Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times
Ben Huh wrote the book “I Can Has Cheezburger?” based on a blog of the same name. It has sold more than 100,000 copies. | Photo by Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times

Not to be left behind, this particular blog, which happens to be about the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, is embarking on an exploration of some of these interweb memes that have made the transition from Twitter tiny url’s to your local bookstore’s new paperback section.  After all, if they got a book deal, WHY NOT ME??

Blog Will Hunting proudly presents LOLMatts

MAH BOIS WICKD SMAHT!!

LOOK INTO MAH EYEZ I DOAN NED THERAPY

LETZ JUS EAT CARAMELS!

CHUCK, I CAN HAS A DUBBLEBURGER?

IZ MY FAULT?

Check back soon for MORE LOLMatts!! (In the mean time, there’s always more LOLCats at the original I Can Has Cheezburger.)