Guilty pleasures are just society telling you to feel ashamed and embarrassed of what you enjoy.
During finals week, I like to listen to the High School Musical soundtrack and One Direction playlists to ease my nerves. My friend believes whole heartedly that Bo Welch’s The Cat in the Hat 2003 movie is the best comedy of all time. My other friend enjoys listening to the La La Land soundtrack while he’s lifting weights at the gym.
These are all things that may strike one as odd; possibly because these are all unusual things to hear people confess to. Perhaps because these are things the world would deem as guilty pleasures.
In terms of media, there are no such things as guilty pleasures.
The idea of guilty pleasures is the world telling someone they shouldn’t like something because that thing is something that is unintelligent; it’s something that isn’t considered artistic or thought-provoking. Therefore, you should feel guilty for liking it. Since when was there a universal taste? Since when was it shameful to find pleasure in things that are supposedly anti-intellectual?
Let’s take Keeping up with the Kardashians for example.
Over time, the Kardashians have gained more and more publicity. They gained more fans and more haters and bad publicity is still publicity. Many dislike the Kardashians because they believe the family doesn’t deserve to be famous; they have no talents and nothing to actually contribute to society. Their show is simply a documentary of their daily lives of flaunting their wealth. However, if the Kardashians are supposedly hated so much, how has their show not been discontinued after 10 years?
People will like to watch the show for various reasons whether it be an attraction to the wealth, the comedic aspects, or simply because it is pure entertainment. Choosing to like or dislike the show is up to the viewer, not what society tells the viewer.
Not only are guilty pleasures categorized as things that are considered shameful, but also ironic or out of the ordinary. For example, one of my male friends enjoys listening to Taylor Swift.
Now, this statement in itself is not strange; there’s nothing wrong with liking Taylor Swift. But with her reputation of being the girl next door, and her music being the kind meant for adolescent girls, it’s strange to hear a 20-year-old man enjoy listening to her from time to time.
My friend doesn’t know the title of any of her songs, but when they’re playing, he likes the tunes. He’s not the only one, seeing as the singer has won 10 Grammys and was nominated numerous times as well. Whether you’re a male or a female, anyone can enjoy Swift’s music. Her songs are relatable (mostly for the broken hearted), her music videos tell a story, and she’s not afraid to poke fun at herself.
In this case, it should be praised rather than criticized if someone finds unexpectedly enjoyable things. It makes this person less dull and predictable.
Who is the one that determines what is worth enjoying and not? This idea of elitism attempts to stomp on the things that are deemed distasteful. We’re never going to hear someone say their guilty pleasure is watching a Shakespeare play, or listening to classical music. These are things society has labeled as tasteful and for those of higher status; the intellectuals. So to seem like a sophisticated person, people may try to get into these forms of entertainment, whereas liking reality television immediately categorizes them as trashy or unintelligent.
The judgment is a shaking of the head in shame, saying “you could be spending your time wisely. Maybe do something a little more productive.” But let’s be honest, if we weren’t watching reality TV, we’d probably fill that time up with something else like going to a bar or taking a nap. Just because someone watches a certain show or listens to a certain artist doesn’t mean we’re never going to be able to solve world hunger or find the cure to HIV/AIDS. I’m sure these things will happen eventually, but by listening to Justin Bieber or watching Real Housewives of Orange County, we aren’t any farther away from the discovery.