“There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Own the things you like.” Boy, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. It’s popularity is surprising, when you consider that the people who most often say it are people who like to buck popular trends, but that’s not important right now. My problem is that, at first, I thought the sentiment was noble and bold, but the more I think about it the more ambivalent I feel towards it.
On the one hand, I would agree that it’s probably a good idea not to have things you’re into that you feel ashamed about. Shame is a sign that either you care too much about what other people think of you, or it’s a sign that you are into some fucked up shit you shouldn’t be into (like, I don’t know, the Hairspray remake with John Travolta). Resolve either of those issues and, voilà, no more guilt (or no more pleasure), and therefore no more guilty pleasure.
But I think that’s kind of a false premise, because the term “guilty pleasure” is actually a pretty bad description for the thing that it’s describing, at least the way most people use it. I mean, eating Taco Bell isn’t exactly good for you, but it’s not ethically wrong is it? “I’ve eaten a chalupa, and now my soul is also in peril.” I’m not sure we’re talking genuine guilt here.
Almost without exception, what people seem to mean when they say that something is a “guilty pleasure” is, “Look man, don’t give me shit for this thing that I like; I will preemptively confess that it is not great, and admit that I feel shameful about it, so don’t even bother roasting me, okay? I have no intention of mounting a defense.”
So, that being the case… why shouldn’t people refer to things as guilty pleasures? It seems perfectly reasonable to me to want to cut off any potential shit-talking at the knees.
I suspect the people who are very cool and smart and say that there should be no guilty pleasures are also the kinds of people who love a “spirited debate,” and tend to dismiss anyone else who doesn’t. It must be nice to be willing to talk long into the night about why such-and-such is good, why this-or-that is garbage, and probably don’t have an early meeting to get to the next day. But I’m sorry, the rest of us have shit to do (like banging out blog posts on their lunch breaks). They’re not wrong or anything though, and I envy them their free time and excess mental energy.
As for me, I’m too exhausted, and much too stressed out, to have to defend Doctor Who or Chipotle. And, as it turns out, I’m too tired to finish this post. Bye!