White Brits all over the country, never having met or spoken to each other, have a strongly held belief that Queen is the most overrated band of all time. When they tell you that this is their opinion, they will act as if they are the only person in the universe who thinks this, and that they have been persecuted for this ostensibly outlandish belief.
They feel a similar way about U2; however, they will express their opinions about Bono in a much more vehement and expletive-ridden manner. What white Brits feel for Queen is quite different: less aggressive, it hovers halfway between indifference to the music, mild snobbishness towards the fans, and genuine consternation at the idea that Queen may be considered “innovative”. Note: bringing up Bohemian Rhapsody will not change their mind.
Mere virtuoso talent at singing or guitar-playing seldom impress a white Brit, who instead prefers their music to contain experimentation and elusive lyrics by artists with unconventional singing voices (e.g. Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Dylan, Jeffrey Lewis, Joanna Newsom, Tom Waits). The only known exception to this rule is Jimi Hendrix.
In terms of talented musicians whose death was prematurely caused by AIDS, Arthur Russell has garnered much more favour among the white British community. If Queen come up in conversation, make sure you bring up his name. Although they have nothing in common musically, this will show your impeccable taste and therefore impress your white British friends.
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All white Brits naturally tend towards the condition of hipster. They do so, however, with a singular mix of denial and self-hatred. They may be brogue-wearing humanities graduates with an exaggerated love of hip-hop, but they do not recognise these hipster traits in themselves.
These, they think, are endearing and idiosyncratic quirks. Instead, white Brits direct their vitriol at anyone whose shoes are slightly pointier than theirs, whose moustache is more ironic, whose jeans are skinnier, or whose knowledge of obscure alternative bands is greater. Areas such as Hackney or Shoreditch are populated entirely by people who hate each other, and, secretly, themselves.
This widespread feeling has caused a great proliferation of hate websites, the humour of which depends on the white Brit being reassured that there are people out there who are slightly more like a hipster than them. White British idols Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris encapsulated this disgust for the hipster in their creation of guerrilla filmmaker, screenwriter, DJ and all-round twat Nathan Barley.
The white British scorn for hipsters is matched only by their abhorrence of “suits”. White Brits therefore inhabit an uncomfortable liminal space between the two extremes, gravitating rather more strongly in the direction of ‘hipster’. Nevertheless, the self-loathing that would be caused by moving towards “the norm” would be far greater. Because of this, white Brits are destined to a future of semi-hipster existence characterised by a subtle but constant feeling of self-revulsion.
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Louis Theroux is as close as it gets to a white British superhero. This investigative broadcaster and Gonzo journalist travels the world revealing injustice, corruption and evil. He shows a non-judgemental and unbiased approach to controversial subjects, which chimes well with the mindview of white Brits.
His gritty documentaries offer the viewer with a delectable mix of interest in subcultures and in the human side of criminals and ‘outsiders’. The moral greyness that ensues is a feeling that white Brits find highly agreeable, as it flatters them into feeling fantastically open-minded.
Thanks to his friendly interviewing technique, he has a knack for making people freely express terrifying views. This was particularly disturbing to white Brits when he made a programme on the self-professed Most Hated Family in America, whose contempt of homosexuals was only matched by their belief in their own Christian righteousness. But his shows also offer a great deal of humour. The contrast in speech patterns of a well-spoken, bespectacled Oxbridge graduate while in conversation with enormous psychopathic murderers can result in dialogue that is highly entertaining to white British ears.
Theroux’s cinéma vérité style provides the closest thing the UK has to The Wire. Over the past fifteen years he has made programmes on high-security jails, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, black nationalists, porn stars, Thai brides, body builders and born-again Christians. The main purpose of his work appears to be raising awareness, a thing that white Brits love. Conveniently, however, his documentaries are watched exclusively by people who agree with him already, which explains why no one in the world has ever criticised his work.
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Once they have finished their MA in the humanities or social sciences, the majority of white Brits stray, wide-eyed and idealistic, into the cold, hard world of work. Their various degrees have left them with a greatly inflated sense of their own abilities, but remarkably ill-equipped to deal with the crushing realities of office existence.
Once their initial enthusiasm wears off, the grinding repetitiveness of their daily tasks will drive them to distraction. There are some who are fortunate enough to bag a job in the media; however, they soon find out that 95% of their tasks will still centre around admin. The average white Brit will soon start to experience terrifying nightmares about excel spreadsheets, photocopying, envelopes, and more spreadsheets, in an endless Kafka-esque loop. They will feel trapped and depressed, and will fear for their dwindling mental capabilities. If only they could be doing something a little bit more… creative.
Two years in, the lure of the PhD kicks in with a vengeance. By this time, they have forgotten the antisocial hours, pain, frustration and feelings of intellectual inferiority caused by their time at university. In retrospect, waking up at 10am, writing essays about The Wire and going to seminars on Bob Dylan was, in fact, the best time of their life. Most of all, when they were students, descriptions of their daily work would sometimes cause others to say “That is really interesting.” Seeing as descriptions of admin seldom have the same effect, impressing others at parties is significantly more difficult.
Added to a substantial sense of entitlement, all of this combines to make white Brits idealise the notion of spending four years in a library, with no money, attempting to construe an original idea about an obscure author from illegible manuscripts. Nevertheless, most of them are ultimately put off the PhD by a combined lack of funding, momentum, and job prospects.
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Whenever a white Brit goes on holiday, they will embark upon a search for the cheapest, tackiest souvenir they can find. Snowglobes of the Eiffel Tower are considered humorous, as are keyrings of the Coliseum, comedy vintage coasters, and awful postcards. If the object has some sort of unintended comedy value, all the better. White Brits display their Pope-themed lollies, or ‘Lollipopes’, around the house as a badge of honour.
The ability to find such objects amusing does denote a certain snobbishness and condescension, but, crucially, also signifies an advanced sense of irony. This is something white Brits never tire of.
Comedy mugs, in particular, deserve a special mention. A white Brit’s mug is their pride and joy, and, like puns, the worse it is, the better. Although white Brits are noted for their fervent anti-royalist sentiment, ironic purchases of Royal Wedding mugs by them will account for roughly 90% of the total sales. Although the coalition is universally hated, Con-dem-nation tankards are a must-have item, and mugs with non-celebrities on them are always a winner, too. Novelty items such as moustache mugs or nose mugs are especially prized, and will enable a white Brit to display their easy-going, fun-loving nature every time they enjoy a cup of tea.
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If you are ever in a situation where you need to cook for a white Brit, do not let their foodie posturing send you into a panic. All you will need to do to win their approval is throw in some edamame, a bit of quinoa and a few goji berries, and name your dish ‘Superfoods Salad / Pasta / Chicken / Pavlova’. The white Brit will be intrigued and instantly well-disposed to the culinary delights to come. Whether or not the food tastes any good will not matter, as the perceived health effects will confuse the white Brit’s taste buds for the duration of the meal.
Superfoods can be thrown in to any food to automatically counteract any implications of unhealthiness. White Brits are keen on treats such as chocolate beetroot cake, green tea ice cream, flapjacks made with flaxseed (or ‘flaxjacks’), nut-free, gluten-free and wheat-free brownies, or gourmet burgers topped with avocado. White Brits indulge their love for Superfoods with overpriced fresh fruit smoothies, anything labelled ‘detox’, Super Organic Porridge with low-GI Agave nectar, frequent visits to Whole Foods, and handy ‘graze’ boxes, which deliver dried fruit and nuts directly to their home or office.
You may wish to mock them by comparing them to Gwyneth Paltrow, whose inspirational newsletter GOOP they probably read every week. Ironically, of course.
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As pointed out in a recent article on the Eurostar magazine, the middle classes tend heavily towards guilt: the upper classes consider the feeling common, while the working class are not neurotic enough for it. This makes guilt, despite its uncharacteristically Catholic overtones, the perfect sentiment for white Brits.
White Brits’ guilt can encompass a wide variety of forms: guilt about their carbon footprint, excess drinking, procrastination, eating meat, not calling their parents often enough, some of the content on their iPods, having voted for the Lib Dems, their expensive education, their unpaid internships, and the overall injustice of the world. While slumming it in a dump in Bethnal Green within close reach of their Hampstead-dwelling parents, white Brits live in constant self-hatred at the knowledge that they are, after all, the girl in Common People.
The perpetual feeling of guilt is a strong tool. The unwritten rule is that you must not, under any circumstance, address a white Brit as a ‘champagne socialist’ or a ‘bobo’ (bourgeois bohemian). They will respond badly to this taunt, and will then proceed to list their working class credentials and the injustices that they, too, have suffered.
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