My life is filled with guilty pleasures. I just don’t feel guilty about them. – James Spader
As a means of coping with life, I’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off. I don’t understand it. I mean, I am aware of the fact that it is an immensely popular show, but I don’t understand why I like it. Sure, I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I have an entire sweet dental system. But, that should be more of a reason for me to not like competitive baking. Especially when competitive baking seems like an oxymoron (an oxymoron being two opposing concepts that somehow make sense together). Just like the idea of a guilty pleasure seems like an oxymoron.
Seems, grammar police, not is. But, even if it were, why is that when people admit to their guilty pleasures, they mostly do it pleasurably, instead of guiltily? When they should feel embarrassed in admitting something they can’t jump on a couch on Oprah about, why do they give a naughty smile, as if they’ve been upto some mischief? I’d understand if you’ve robbed a bank by hacking into their computer without leaving a digital trail. But, liking a popular band or a successful show? Where exactly is the guilt here?
Unless you’ve actually committed a crime (say shoplifting was your guilty pleasure), most guilty pleasures are just you apologising for your true self. ALL music enthusiasts do this. They list indie artists/prog rock/whatever obscure band they know of and nobody else does/whichever band or artist has gone through the ritual of revisionism, where they are now considered nearly as important as The Beatles/listing The Beatles as “overrated”. However, when no one’s looking, you’ll find these people putting on an intensely pop record, and forgetting themselves for the next few moments. Sometimes, their enthusiasm might prove to be too overwhelming, where they feel the need to profess, to get up on the proverbial Oprah couch and say in this moment of vulnerability, “My guilty pleasure is…”
I know I’ve been this person. You know you’ve been this person. If it’s not music, it’s something else, but it happens with nearly everything. You’re even embarrassed of people in your life, but you care about them too. There is more to this than shyly admitting it to someone you think won’t judge you. It’s intelligence, for one thing. Everything that represents you, must reflect who you are. That’s obvious, but some of us are full of contradictions, no matter how carefully we design our lives. We might lean towards certain things that overall point to a specific direction, but not everything can comfortably fit in. That’s what makes us human. It isn’t necessarily a flaw, just difference.
The other guilty pleasure show for me in the past month has been this Canadian family comedy I discovered called Life With Derek. I am not the right age demographic for it, being neither a parent nor a minor, but I think the titular character, Derek, is the best thing since a John Hughes movie. I can’t admit this to my TV-loving friends, where expected topics of discussion include shows like Stranger Things and Game of Thrones (of whom I’ve seen neither). And they aren’t necessarily missing out either, because not all TV has to be life-changing. Some can just be comfortable, cosy fun. Pleasures don’t have to be universal. Some can just be what you need, when you need it.
Of course, it has often been noted that we, as a species, tend to feel guilty. Some of us even find pleasure in knowingly doing the wrong thing. Or in the pain we feel after doing it. But, that’s a completely different story from our everyday guilty pleasures. Perhaps, we feel guilty because we don’t want others to spoil the pleasure of it. What we love makes us vulnerable, and if what we love is unpopular, we risk being hurt by others for it. Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, there is always a private world in you that no one is privy to, a world that is made up of your secrets, your pleasures, your pain. You are protective of it, you’ll use any armour necessary to guard it well. Even if that armour is guilt.
What is your guilty pleasure?