Friday, August 23, 2013

Guilt-y vs. Guilt-free

I was listening to an old WTF podcast exchange between Marc Maron and Dave Grohl recently. During the interview, Dave addressed the notion of "guilty" pleasures. Cool as ever, he insisted that we should strip the guilt out of our pleasures. If it is something you enjoy, then you should just enjoy it. Own it and don't give a hoot what anyone else thinks. (although Dave Grohl is way too cool to use the phrase "don't give a hoot")

I have always identified many of my pleasures as being of the guilty variety. But why the guilt? There's nothing to feel guilty about if it's something that gives you pleasure. I believe it is a phrase we have invented to cover for liking something that may be unpopular, or even worse, uncool. I use the default header "guilty pleasure" when something is embarrassing... but embarrassing by whose standards? Who makes the rules and the lists? And why do we think we should feel guilty if what we like is not on, or worse, on those lists.

It's hard to deny the validity of his sentiment. Why should we feel guilt for liking something? I do agree with him, and yet, I'm not sure that I am personally ready to strip the guilt out of absolutely everything I enjoy.

The truth is that some of these pleasures should involve guilt: The guilt of contributing to a gossipy culture where useless information is provided as "news" although it has absolutely no value whatsoever and tends to verge on over-exposure or invasion of someone's privacy. The guilt of taking time, sweet precious time, and utilizing it for something as mind-numbing as a television show that dramatically gives intimate details of the lives of people I do not know, do not care to know, yet for some reason am fascinated by. The guilt of judging others for what they sound like, look like, cook, wear, listen to, create, dance like or whatever other competition show they come up with next. The guilt of thinking that I personally have the right to make any distinction between the right to privacy different babies should be afforded.* So, just as I teeter-totter between extremes in the rest of my life, I go between happily stripping the guilt out of all of my pleasures and angrily acknowledging my own contributions to a voyeur culture I am not all that comfortable with.

Musically I think I can remove the guilt. I like to think I have good taste in music. I also tend to believe that liking pop music is in direct conflict with thinking I have good taste in music. The truth is, I like some pop music. I can't help it. Pop is short for popular, afterall. There are some songs that get under my skin and I enjoy singing along to them like a fool in my car or anywhere else I hear them (supermarket aisle dance party anyone?) It is not a blanket affection though, and I wish Kesha (yeah, I spelled it without the $ sign cause that's how little respect I have for you) and Justin Beiber would just go away... somewhere he could get the help he so desperately needs. ("needs" - according to my husband who has a very serious, if somewhat strange concern for this kid's well-being).

I do not deny liking some pop music: that Bruno Mars is one heck of a talent; 18 months later I am still singing along to Call Me Maybe when it comes on; and though I know it samples a very guilt-free Marvin Gaye song, Blurred Lines makes me boogie every time I hear it. I'm no fool though. I know it can't last forever. I swore I would never get sick of Hey Ya, but I did... eventually. Thankfully pop music provides an endless stream of catchy, toe-tapping, easy listening (easy not like Sunday morning, but like requiring very little thought) so that I can easily move on to the next hit without a thought as to what "whatshername" will be up to in 20 years.

So to Dave Grohl's point, we must embrace the things that move us, even if it is just a little wiggle in the cereal aisle. If we reject the things that speak to us, we are rejecting a part of ourselves and will be unhappier for it. Lose the guilt and embrace your inner teenager once in a while. Tune in to see what all the fuss is about. Most of it may be auto-tuned crap and hype, but there might still be something there for you to enjoy... and who wants to turn down enjoyment these days just because of a little embarrassment?

That being said, some other types of pleasures should still utilize the "guilty" part of the title. I know when I get sucked into a Real Housewives marathon for a few hours, those are hours I cannot and will not get back. I can sit and itemize the many things I could have accomplished in that time instead, and that alone justifies my guilt. Organize my photos? Nope, I'm busy watching seven bitchy retorts, twelve grammatical nightmares and a potential nip-slip, thanks. I could have a heart to heart with my husband about the state of the world tonight... ah, but the Bachelorette is on! For these things, I must retain the guilt, lest I truly believe that is the best use of my time.

So while I want to fully agree with Dave Grohl (who doesn't, he's a legend), I must say that not all mindless uses of our time that provide temporary moments of satisfaction are worth confidently embracing. Sometimes we must retain the use of the word "guilt" because we know we should be ashamed for liking, supporting, watching, listening, eating, whatever it is. In some instances, if we lose the guilt, we are accepting that these things are ok and should be embraced. And let's face it, these are not things that improve us as a people. I believe one possible result of our accepting this lowest common denominator of entertainment is the end of the civilized world as we know it. If things continue on this trajectory of false fame holding more of our interest than famine, society will surely crumble. One option would be turning it off completely, tuning it out and finding something better to do with my time. Another option, and the one I am more likely to continue to exercise for now, is the use of the header "guilty" in front of anything I know basically represents the apocalypse. Fashion Police features and Who Wore It Best competitions don't help the state of the world, but they sure do make a manicure fly by. 
*oh the shame*


OK, that's Willow Smith: troubled teen singer and daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, sister to actor brother Jaden; followed by Miley Cyrus: troubled child star growing up into even more troubled pop star and daughter of country music one-hit superstar Billy Ray Cyrus who is incidentally in the midst of what sounds like a bad d-i-v-o-r-c-e; and lastly Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: model and arm candy of Jason Statham, you know, the English guy who has starred in either two or 20 movies that all have identical action/suspense themes and plot lines, yet no real entertainment value and Snatch (or the other one like Snatch, I get them confused).

Um, Pope Benedict something or other and the one that came after him?
*In case you are wondering how I feel about celebrity babies and their right to privacy: Kim & Kanye should have no privacy since they sell pictures of themselves, and will do the same eventually with their "precious" no doubt... make no mistake Kanye, the fact that the first photo netted you no money, but was instead shared at the end of a horrendous season of a tv show that should never have seen the light of day but to showcase that one photo, and to have milked a whole season out of poor viewers only to reward them in the end with that one photo... well, let's just say that taking a fat check from the National Enquirer for that photo would have been more tasteful, not that we look to any member of that clan for taste or class cues; Will and Kate and baby Georgie on the other hand should just be left alone to be a cute little monarch family in their royal abode.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Add it to the comments section below...

1 comment:

  1. As always you're dead on I completely agree and i too am guilty....


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