Should We Still Have “Guilty” Pleasures?

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game!

We’ve all used the saying “it’s my guilty pleasure” at some point in our lives. Whether we’re including it in our description of a song that we like that everyone else finds annoying, bringing it up while referencing a TV show we still enjoy even after its lost its mojo, or mentioning it while paying tribute to that movie we love and no one else does, the phrase has become a quick and easy way for people to identify things that they like, and no one else does. But my question is, should we still be using this colloquialism? Should we still be categorizing certain pleasures as “guilty” and others as not?

I personally don’t think so. I don’t believe that people should have to defend or justify their interests to anybody. We all like what we like, and there’s nothing else to say. Plus, isn’t the fact that we enjoy certain things that other people don’t part of what makes us unique? Imagine how boring it would be if everyone liked the same things–if everyone’s favorite book was War and Peace, and everyone’s favorite movie was The Godfather. That would be horrible! Noe one would stick out. No one would be able to connect with anyone else on a truly intimate level. Everyone would dress, talk, and look the same. Everything would be bland and uninspiring.

But, besides the fact that having “guilty” pleasures is part of what makes us unique, I’ve noticed that a lot of the things that are categorized as such tend to be graded both harshly and on a slightly unfair scale. For instance, lots of movie critics hate the Transformers and Twilight film series. They say that these films are misogynistic, that they’re poorly written and dreadfully acted, and that, in many cases, they are downright idiotic. And while these critics might not necessarily be wrong in saying these things, they often forget that both film series are made for a very specific audience–that being 13 -year-old boys and girls. These people don’t necessarily have as sophisticated tastes as the critics. And even if they do, odds are, they just want a little mindless escapism. I have several friends who are now full-blown feminists, and yet, when they were 12, loved the Twilight movies. Why? Because these films offered them a chance to just sit back and experience certain fantasies that society wouldn’t ordinarily permit them to indulge in. And that’s okay. Let the kids have their fun for now. They’ll grow out of it soon enough. I certainly did. When I was 10 years old, I loved a film called Batman and Robin, which most critics describe as the worst superhero movie ever made. They hate its campiness, it’s goofy plot, it’s over-the-top action sequences, and all I can think when I hear them say this is, “You know this is a kid’s movie, right?” Of course it’s campy! Of course it’s got over-the-top sets, fight scenes and costumes! It’s supposed to! It’s a movie that’s made for 10-year-old boys who want to see their favorite cartoon get put on the big screen. No one else. The filmmakers weren’t trying to craft an Oscar-winning epic that would stand the test of time. They just wanted to make a film for a demographic who would watch it, enjoy it, and then, once they’d grown out of it, move on with their lives. And as a person who saw it at the age when I was supposed to, I can tell you, the movie did its job just fine.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “Nathan, isn’t describing something as ‘just a kids movie’ kind of condescending? Doesn’t that demean both the people who made the movie, and the people who went to go see it? After all, there lots of mature, smart, and interesting kids movies out there, and lots of mature and smart kids who don’t like to be pandered to.” Yes, there are plenty of family friendly movies–Toy Story, Up, FInding Nemo, The Incredibles–that are very well done and can appeal to adults, as well as plenty of kids out there who do have sophisticated tastes in art, but I think you might be confusing kids movies with movies for all ages. See, kids movies, as well as chick and dick flicks, are films that are tailored to a very specific demographic, and, as such, tend not to try to appeal to anyone else but members of that demographic. The makers of these films try to include all the things that studies have shown that this group enjoys–for instance, if it’s a movie for 13-year-old boys, it’ll likely include things like a scantily clad girl running in slow motion–and not much else. That’s part of the reason why I don’t think we should force those who like such things to describe them as “guilty pleasures.” After all, most of the people who go to see Transformers are 13-year-old boys–the target audience–so they’re not doing anything wrong when they like it. They’re just enjoying what’s been made specifically for them. And you know what? In a few years, when they’ve grown up a bit, they’ll forget all about those films. Thus, no real harm will have been done.

So, loved ones, don’t call that book, that movie or that song you like a “guilty” pleasure. It’s just a pleasure. The fact that you like it is just one thing that makes you distinct from everyone else. And, on top of that, it’s probably something that was made for people of your specific demographic, and that you will likely forget about very soon. So, stand up! Say it proudly! Tell the world that you like what you do! No one can hurt you if you own it! Let’s change the world together, one admittance at a time!

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