Never has a phrase made me dissolve into tears of righteous anger quicker than ‘Guilty Pleasure’. Guilty BLOODY Pleasures, what self hating simpleton thought this up? How utterly, miserably Catholic to have to feel shame and turmoil about quite liking something that’s not deemed retro enough to be ironic.
Pop culture is supposed to be about enjoyment, freedom and silliness. Who cares if you’re a fully grown man who will knock women and children off the dance floor once Let’s Hear it For the Boys comes on at a family occasion? Who cares if you’ve shed a few tears to Phil Collins crooning Groovy Kind of Love for no apparent reason? Or if you are a person who has watched Grease 2 more times than The Godfather? Isn’t that the wondrous, egalitarian nature of pop culture? One man’s Aphex Twin is another man’s Thompson Twins? As we live in the age of crammed- up culture where bits of Eldorado are playing footsie with scenes from Scum on Youtube and everyone’s iPod features at least one song they first heard on an ad, where is all this redundant embarrassment coming from?
Who are these joyless arbiters of taste that deem so much to be beneath them? Are they responsible for those suspicious barometers of ‘Cool’ that fill up every anaemic weekend supplement magazine? My answer to the question of ‘Guilty Pleasures’ has always been that I don’t believe in guilt, I only believe in pleasures. Or so I thought. I truly believed there was not one area of my culture guzzling life that I was not the least bit embarrassed about. I trumpeted my love of Made in Chelsea from the roof-tops (well, the Twitter ones…), when my laptop became virus free the first thing I did to celebrate was to play Tarzan Boy at ear-surrendering level, I even own a copy of Jimmy Nail’s Aint No Doubt and have yet to spontaneously burst into flames because of it.
There was nothing I was truly ashamed of and couldn’t drunkenly bore friends and family about…until I thought of my secret Sunday night routine. Yes dear reader, every Sunday night I do something so disgusting I can barely admit it to myself let alone anyone I know for fear they will disown me… because every Sunday night I go to bed with A.A Gill. Repulsive but true. I lie in bed and not only ENJOY reading his restaurant reviews but I marvel at the sheer wonder of them. The literary tricks turned and perfect sentences created, I positively swoon at the glorious descriptions of food that he manages to evoke out of his hate-filled brain. How can this happen? It’s worse than laughing at something Giles Coren once said (although not much). I am forever stuck in a tormented phase of cognitive dissonance at once wanting to beat him into a gelatinous pulp but also ask him how he manages to squeeze the word ‘parsimonious’ into every review?
This is a man whose redundant ideology I abhor, a man who refers to his partner as ‘The Blonde’, who once shot a baboon for kicks, who declared Mary Beard too ugly for television, who called Claire Balding ‘a dyke on a bike’ …the man who is best friends with the enemy of all human life, the walking burst blood vessel that is Jeremy Clarkson. Yet, every Sunday without fail I will take to the bed to be coddled by dear Adrian’s culinary quips.
Yes, I’ve managed to fall into the disgraceful trap of the ‘Guilty Pleasure’ although for me, it is not about skitting around with glee to Shaggy’s Oh Carolina but something altogether more ponderous. It’s about admiring and enjoying something that comes from the most objectionable of sources and maybe that is something truly worth feeling a little guilty about.
Originally published on fanny.ie