I’ve got a secret. I’ve seen the movie "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." And I liked it. I’ve got another one. I really love Bryan Adams’ "Summer of ’69," so much so that there have been times I’ve listened to it repeatedly, singing along out loud and playing air guitar. I also recently read an article about the TV teen drama "The O.C.," a show that ran from 2003 to 2007 on Fox of which I’ve seen all four seasons.
I’m not proud of these things. But since I’m not in high school anymore, I’m not as ashamed of these things as I would have been back when I was a teenager. Because when you’re that age, nothing is more important to you than being cool. And save for possibly the Bryan Adams reference, none of these things would have qualified as such (unless you were in high school in 1984 and you’re from Canada).
Guilty pleasures span a whole spectrum of bad habits, from eating junk food to taking bubble baths to collecting coins or stamps. Anything can be attributed to a guilty pleasure, depending on the person. And when it comes to pop culture, it seems guilty pleasures take on a whole new level of guilt. Bad television seems to be at the top of the list because it so accessible, after, perhaps, Harlequin romance novels. You can’t turn on the TV without some sort of reality show coming on, such as "The Real Housewives of [take your pick of locations], "Big Brother" and "The Bachelorette." Not that all reality shows are bad, as I once thought before discovering "Hell’s Kitchen" and "MasterChef."
What I’m saying is that it’s all about perspective.
Take Bryan Adams, for example. I know a lot of people who absolutely love him as an artist and probably went to his recent concert here in Chattanooga. I really don’t care for him, save for a few of his songs from the 1980s. But it doesn’t mean my taste in music is better or worse than those Bryan Adams lovers. Simply, our tastes are different.
It took me a long time to realize this.
In high school, a friend said I was a music snob because I didn’t like country music. Actually, I made fun of her for liking country music. And understandably, she got mad. I didn’t get that then. But I get it now. I have a tendency to take myself and my tastes in all things pop culture too seriously. So to the friend I offended in high school, here’s my apology: I like Miley Cyrus’ "Party in the USA" and have been known to not change the radio station when that song comes on. I’ve never told anyone that until now.
And to illustrate how much I’ve grown as a person, I will admit that I do like certain country artists, though this is not much of a guilty pleasure admission because those artists are musicians like Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Steve Earle. In other words, these are country musicians to like if you consider yourself too cool to like mainstream country music. So I’m taking baby steps here.
What is it about guilty pleasures that make them, well, guilty pleasures?
I suppose it has to do with our own level of self-confidence. How confident do you feel right now to admit your own guilty pleasures? To be able to admit them says something about how we’ve grown as people, how we’ve matured, how accepting we choose to be of who we are.
Because, let’s face it, as adults, we still worry about how others perceive us. And we always will. I know I do. And it depends on what we feel qualifies as legitimate entertainment and what is less so. Guilty pleasures provide an unfiltered look into our likes and dislikes, an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the whole spectrum of who we are without the "cool" filter on. Is that such a bad thing? I’ve learned that the older I get, it’s really not. And in some instances, I just don’t care.
I’ve got a friend who loves Roland Emmerich movies. He loves "Independence Day," "2012" and "The Day After Tomorrow"; and he’s not ashamed at all. He watches them as if they were independent art films with subtitles. He examines them. I, in turn, make fun of him.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen all of these films. But I think they are ridiculous. And so does he. But he revels in the ridiculousness. He celebrates it while I scoff at it.
All I can say is they don’t hold a candle to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop."
It’s all about perspective.
So what about you? I’ve admitted some of mine. What are some of your guilty pleasures?
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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