This Column Is Ironic: Welcome to Stanford, Max Fischer

Opinion by Shane Savitsky
Sept. 23, 2010, 12:16 a.m.

My name is Shane Savitsky, and I am a white person.

I thought I should get that out of the way immediately, because it’s going to be an overarching theme to this column as it progresses. After all, Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know.” What I know is how to be unabashedly, undeniably and almost unattractively white. Maybe you’ve seen me: I’m that kid who was biking to class the other day in a Ralph Lauren oxford with a Jamba Juice in my hand while jamming to some Vampire Weekend.

While I’m at it, I should probably get some other things out of the way. I get all of my news through Twitter. I think “Arrested Development” is the funniest series to ever air on television. There are a couple pairs of skinny jeans hanging in my closet. “The Life Aquatic” is my favorite Wes Anderson movie. I check Pitchfork multiple times a day for the latest in music updates. Of course I voted for Barack Obama. And no, I am most definitely not a PC.

I guess some people might call me a hipster. We can go with that if you want.

Obviously, Stanford is known for its diversity. We have people from all over the planet coming to study at our fine institution nestled in its own little slice of paradise, and we do everything we can to make those people feel comfortable. Stanford is loaded with community centers and theme houses beckoning to every corner of society—something that makes our university such a great and welcoming place. But sometimes, white people need a little place where they can come to and hear someone rant about the latest episode of “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad.” Maybe you just want to relax with a coffee and sit down at your Macbook. This is that place. (Please ignore the fact that I just completely described the CoHo or any dorm/house lounge on campus.) Every week when you open up The Stanford Daily and see my column on the page, know that this is a safe respite for those of you who have been feeling lost.

Fear not! That is not a message of exclusion. While this column might be a jaded and sarcastic view of everything from culture to Stanford-related issues to anything in between, I hope to reach out to all members of the Stanford community. You’re a college student, right? And you go to school in California? From that, I can immediately assume that you’re probably socially liberal and culturally conscious. Thus, I’m sure we would probably be friends if I said something like, “I’m going to drive my Prius to catch a show at the Fillmore this weekend and stop in The Mission on my way back to campus for some dive Mexican food. Oh, and I hope Prop 8 gets overturned!” Maybe you’d like me even more if I told you that I thought Arcade Fire put out the best album of 2010 thus far. If you still have no idea why anything I just said should be appealing or if you’ve never heard of Arcade Fire (or think that I’m referring to a conflagration amidst some pinball machines), then we definitely have some work to do. We’ll accomplish that over the next few weeks.

That takes me to an important point to leave you with: in my personal film pantheon, Wes Anderson-directed movies hold a very esteemed position among my favorites. And in Anderson’s classic film “Rushmore,” the main character is a teenager named Max Fischer. Max might be something of a budding sociopath, but he is also involved in countless extracurricular activities at his private high school, Rushmore. From the “Yankee Racers” to the fencing club to the Rushmore Beekeepers, Max does it all. He’s a little obsessive compulsive, slightly unstable, over-the-top and has way too many things on his plate to focus on schoolwork. And that, my friends, is something all of us at Stanford can agree upon. I’m talking to the person out there among us who has climbed Mount Everest or whose research might unlock the cure for cancer someday. But mainly, I’m talking to you—the average Stanford student who is in a thousand different student organizations with countless meetings to go to and a couple papers or problem sets due on top of that and just not enough time in the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or brown or some odd shade of purple; all of us here at Stanford have just a little bit of Max Fischer in us—otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.

Think you’re more of a Steve Zissou? Drop Shane an e-mail at [email protected].

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