There are a fair amount of things I enjoy that aren’t cool. They’re not culturally bulletproof, they’re cheesy, they’re sentimental. They’re not high art. These are the things we might call “guilty pleasures.”
“The guilty pleasure is always the enjoyment of some form that is not high art,” says Fran Lebowitz in the Netflix series, Pretend It’s a City.
Some days, while driving in my car, I’ll look in the rear view mirror and feel the ghost of everyone I’ve ever known staring at me from the backseat. I’ll change the song on my iPod to something else, just to prove I’m not who I used to be. This is a ridiculous exercise, but it’s also all my guilt rising to the surface. I shouldn‘t enjoy what I’m listening to, so I’ll listen to something else.
Of course, this is contrary to everything Dave Grohl has to say:
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not fucking cool.”
Point well taken, but there are larger issues than combating punk rock guilt. Fran Lebowitz continues:
I have no guilty pleasures because pleasure never makes me feel guilty…No, I don’t feel guilty for having pleasure. We live in a world where where people don’t feel guilty for killing people, people don’t feel guilty for putting babies in cages at the border. People don’t feel guilty for this, but I should feel guilty for what? For having two bowls of spaghetti?
Let’s focus on making people feel guilty for the rampant immoral acts being committed in the world right now, instead of committing the rather minor sin of not having taste.
Editorial Note: For posterity, I wrote this post while listening to Simple Plan.