What Exactly Are Guilty Pleasures?
By Jeff Salter
It’s taken me a while to get a handle on this week’s topic — guilty pleasures. I’m not sure what I previously thought it meant, but I suppose I considered a guilty pleasure to be something that seems otherwise out of “character” – in the sense that we tend to stereotype people (and their tastes) – for a certain individual to enjoy. Along the lines of: “You wouldn’t probably expect this of me, but I really dig collecting skunk pelts.” A better example might be if a stereotypical, unmarried, elderly female librarian were a loud, rabid, obnoxious fan of pro wrestling. [And, yes, I can talk about librarians, because I was one for 30 years.]
According to Wiki, a guilty pleasure “is something, such as a film, a television program or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite understanding that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird. For example, a person may secretly like a movie but will admit that particular movie is poorly made and/or generally seen as ‘not good’. It can also be used to refer to one’s taste for foods that are considered to be advisable to avoid, especially for health reasons. Fashion, video games, music, theatre, television series, films, food and fetishes can be examples of guilty pleasures.”
I’m still not sure where the “guilt” part comes into play. If any of us love or enjoy something that’s a little weird, why should we feel guilty about it? To each his/her own… right?
I mean, I happen to enjoy chocolate (whether it’s ice cream, Hershey bars, or M&M Peanuts)… but I don’t have the slightest sense of guilt about it.
I still possess a few of my childhood toys from the 1950s… but don’t have a twinge of guilt.
I enjoy collecting books – in many different genres – but feel no fault.
I built up a fairly substantial collection of comic books several years ago… but don’t sense any guilt.
I’ve spent a few decades collecting and displaying military items from as far back as the Spanish-American War… but I don’t feel guilty.
Are those hobbies out-of-the-ordinary in any way? I’m not sure.
I know plenty of people who collect things that I might consider a bit off-the-wall, but I can’t see where they should feel guilty about it. I figure… to each his own. I recently read a story about a guy who collects very expensive masks from some of the big-time Hollywood horror movie franchises. That’s not my cup of tea, but there’s no reason for him to feel guilty about it… unless he’s not paying his other bills and obligations in order to buy those high-dollar masks.
So instead of classifying things that interest me as “guilty pleasures,” I think I’ll just consider them as collections / activities which give me a degree of pleasure. But to anyone who imagines my choices are more off-the-wall than their choices, I plead, “Not guilty!”
What about YOU? What are your pleasures that may not fit neatly into someone else’s mindset? Does that bring you any guilt?
[JLS # 513]