Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The point of "guilty pleasure"

[This is kinda sorta in response to, or at least inspired by, this post on I Will Dare. FYI.]

It's been proffered that in pop culture there should not be such a phrase as "guilty pleasure" (by at least Chuck Klosterman, and probably others), because anything that elicits enjoyment should not be bring with it guilt. Still, the expression caught on because there tends to be consensus amongst those who appreciate a given art form about what is justifiably worth appreciating and what's not. There's some quality that Thing A has that Thing B lacks and therefore to like Thing B is something about which any self-respecting appreciator of Thing A should feel ashamed.

Obviously this is the same sense of wanting to fit in with the cool kids from our school days that carries over to the implicit need to fit in with the critics and tastemakers in a given area when we're adults. And just as many of us realized the ridiculousness of trying to be cool (which likely was some combination of maturity and the bitter-grapes realization we weren't going to fit in anyway), many of us see that liking what we like is no reason for having to justify it, but we also grasp on some level that it's easier to have a conversation with someone about, say, the Velvet Underground, if we first identify our enjoyment of Journey is a "guilty pleasure"; it's shorthand for "I know what's cool and what's uncool and although I like them both I am aware of the difference so don't dismiss my opinion about the former out of hand merely because of the latter."

And while it's just as ridiculous to care, in the context to which I'm alluding there's the assumption that this theoretical person with whom we're discussing the Velvets (whom I'm citing merely as a easy example of what's generally considered high art in rock; I'm nothing more than a very casual fan of their music, for the record) is someone whom we want to consider our opinion.

We don't necessarily need to have the cool kids like us, but sometimes we don't want to be excluded because our tastes run the gamut.

To feel the need to interact with others is inherently idiotic, but hey, we're social creatures when you get down to it.

And although I've long argued that what's considered canon-worthy is merely what some critics and professors could agree upon in their snobbish ways, and there's times when what's touted as excellent by them really is, we like what we like and what we need is to find others who agree whether it meets with the approval of those types.

And in this era of online interacting there's often a need for quickly identifying one's bona fides, as no one really wants to sit through a thorough explication of one's background. Not that anyone is actually paying attention, but you get the idea.

Or you would if you were paying attention. Well, maybe...

Now please stop judging me over that Klosterman allusion above, you elitist.

[This post failed to be persuasive, I know. Please think of it as a "guilty" pleasure if you enjoyed anything about it.]

1 comment:

So, what do you think?