May 15, 201206:00 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
What makes a pleasure a guilty one? Is it because it's too "mainstream" or because it's over-saturating pop culture? Is it because it's viewed as sophomoric or unsophisticated? Cheesy as hell?
Well, whatever the reason, there are definitely things out there that I feel are guilty pleasures of mine, mainly because I feel a slight (or a huge) twinge of shame for admitting that I like them. But why should I feel like that? I sometimes feel like things that are viewed as sophisticated are just big phonies while something that's seen as a "guilty pleasure" is at least genuine and unpretentious. For example, in the music world, bands like Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear get all the blog love and near-perfect ratings on Pitchfork, but listening to them just doesn't exactly inspire you to get up and dance like something Madonna just put out.
I just got (or rather, "Spotified") Madonna's new album and I love it. Does that somehow diminish my indie-music cred? Or is liking Madonna hip in that I'm being "ironic," like my friends in college who listened to underground techno music almost exclusively except for The Spice Girls?
Well, today I'm not going to pretend that something I like is a "guilty pleasure" when it's honestly just something I like, even love, because it's good. And maybe it's accidentally good. Or maybe just parts of it are good. But for whatever reason I just dig it. Here are my major ones:
The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and Revenge.
Honestly, right now I'm not sure that there's a TV show that's on that I look forward to more than The Vampire Diaries. Maybe Mad Men, but that's about it. Even the title, The Vampire Diaries, sounds like the cheesiest show that ever was - and, on many levels, it is - but it's also fast-paced, filled with eye candy (hey there Damon), suspenseful and above all, surprising. The season finale last week blew me away and I had no idea that they were going to go where they went. It was awesome.
Most of the "critically acclaimed" shows have powerful season finales as well, but they mainly just piss me off, like Boardwalk Empire or even Breaking Bad where they turn your favorite characters into assholes with no redeeming qualities. It's not really fun for me anymore if there's no one to root for, which is why I ultimately gave up on the holiest of all TV Shows, The Sopranos.
True Blood is in the guilty pleasure category because anyone who chooses to still watch the show after last season is most certainly guilty of something. Which of course will be me. And Revenge was just some show I had on while I was organizing the thousands of photos I have on my computer, but I got hooked on it and strangely invested in Amanda Clarke's misson to take down those horrible Grayson people and screaming at the TV to tell Jack the yummy bartender who she really is.
I also love Game of Thrones, and the thing is, I can't really make out whether or not it should be seen as a "guilty pleasure." It's on HBO which automatically makes it "deep" on some level, and it's based on one of the most read and beloved series of books in nerdom, but have you seen it? Watching it makes me feel dirty sometimes. And I can't view it in front of other people, or at least when Theon Greyjoy is onscreen ... I have to leave the room.
Madonna and other female pop stars from my childhood like Whitney Houston, Wilson Phillips and Tiffany.
My favorite band of all time is The Rolling Stones and I love bands like Radiohead, The White Stripes (and the myriad of Jack White's other projects), The National and Tori Amos. But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for 80s and 90s pop music.
I also think, and I hate admitting this, that Justin Timberlake is quite good and should quit the acting thing so he can make another song as catchy as "Sexy Back" already.
My husband thought I was kidding the other day when I made him a deal that I'd go to the pub with him - even though I was perfectly comfortable in my pajamas - if he'd take me to see Think Like a Man. He still thinks I was kidding as he refuses to take me. I wasn't kidding. I actually want to see it. I think it looks kinda cute. So sue me!
I've read most books and series of books that infect the mainstream with movies, action figures, happy meals and T-shirts that say "Team Jacob" or "Team Gale". I've read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and, okay, even Twilight, but nothing is as bad as the Fifty Shades of Grey series. It is literally Twilight fan-fiction. I flew through the first book after reading about it on my favorite feminist website that said it made feminism and literature take several steps back toward the dark ages. I still read it.
It was horribly written. Every page made me shake my head and laugh at and not with it. And I couldn't put it down.
It made me want to cry in the shower and wash my brain out with soap. Like the industrial soap they have with special exfoliaters.
I'm now reading Jane Eyre to rectify the unbalance I created in the literary universe by reading such filth. And I promise it has nothing to do with watching the newer Jane Eyre depiction the other day on HBO starring Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester.
I know I'm supposed to eat food that is lovingly prepared, locally sourced, seasonal and healthy. I know I'm supposed to shun restaurant chains and companies with backgrounds of unethical treatment of animals. But you know what? Sometimes I want a heaping pile of McDonalds french fries.
Whenever I've been traveling and feeling somewhat homesick, all you have to do is go to a McDonalds and their food tastes exactly the same as it does in your hometown. It's strangely comforting. It might be kind of sad and wrong that their food in the U.S. tastes the same as their food in Japan or London or Rome, but whatever, their fries are effing delicious.
I also seriously thought about buying a pack of Cherry Dr Pepper (I never drink regular pop) because Loki from Thor and The Avengers appeared on the cans. I have a strange crush on him and I think I might go back to the store and buy one.
Sometimes you just want an overly-sweet drink that might tip you over the edge. On these occasions there's nothing quite like getting a hand grenade or a hurricane from tourist havens like Tropical Isle or Pat O'Briens. Several weeks back my friends and I sat at the bar at Tropical Isle on Bourbon St. and the bartender looked genuinely surprised when after he asked us where we were from, we said, "Here. We live here."
For locals who most certainly know the hip and off-the-beaten-path night-life of New Orleans, these places could be certainly viewed as guilty pleasures.
What are some of your guilty pleasures? I'd love to hear about what you love and maybe get hooked on a new series of books or a television show.