Friday 18 November 2016

Stop Feeling Guilty

Today I’m going to talk about a subject that really irks me and has made me rant a lot over the years.

The idea comes from a comedian called Dave Gorman, a very funny and clever man. On his latest show, called “Modern Life Is Goodish”, he discusses the term "guilty pleasure”, used by just about everybody, myself included, to describe something that you really like but that you feel guilty about. In fact, I have written a couple of posts about my own musical guilty pleasures that took some doing because, in it, I mentioned songs that I felt embarrassed about. These songs are in my musical collection and I love them, despite people laughing at me or deriding me because of them.

I’ve also discussed the pseudo-intellectual, a person who mocks people like me for not appreciating high-brow items across a variety of disciplines. These people utter complete bullshit and show faux-emotion with feigned enthusiasm about their subject matter, dismissing normal everyday folks for being too thick to appreciate where they are coming from.

There are lots of examples.

Imagine a conversation between such a person (PS) and myself.

PS: I’m currently reading “Dystopian Attitudes To Philosophy” by the renowned philosopher Archibald St-John-Smythe, a professor of applied philosophy at Oxford University. It was reviewed very positively in The Sunday Times last week by the acclaimed critic Theodore Rymplethrope. It is a fascinated read. What are you currently reading?

PM: I’m reading “Alien Immortal”, a science fiction novel by Dirk Prawn. It’s not well known and is about an alien invasion in the near future just when …

PS: Let me stop you right there. That’s your guilty pleasure. It has to be because otherwise you would be ashamed to admit to reading cheap nonsense like that! You need to challenge yourself cerebrally and a cheesy sci-fi novel is no way to do that!

PM: Pardon?

PS: St-John-Smythe discusses the possibility of the existence of an alternative reality, where we are canine beings being held captive as pets by super-intelligent felines and the relevance of this alternate concept to the thought paradigms … Where are you going?

PM: To read my cheesy science fiction book. It’s more interesting than talking to you.

Do you see what I mean? There are certain people who deem themselves to be far superior to the likes of me who say that I should be utterly ashamed about my choice of book, movie or music, my hobbies, the art I like to look at and my lifestyle choices.

If it has not been positively reviewed by a well-respected critic in a high brow newspaper then it is simply a guilty pleasure that you should feel ashamed about admitting to loving.

These are the kind of people who will read anything by Salman Rushdie and criticise those of who don’t as beneath molluscs on the evolutionary scale. They try to make me feel guilty about reading a cheesy horror story over a book that is critically acclaimed by a famous book critic.

I started a Salman Rushdie book once then put it down - it was absolutely dreadful.

These people try to make me feel guilty about choosing to watch a Superhero movie over an Oscar-winning snooze-fest.

They try to make me feel guilty about choosing to watch The Big Bang Theory over a documentary about the evolution of contemporary art in Western Europe in the 20th century.

They simply cannot understand why I would choose to buy a progressive metal CD instead of a critically acclaimed CD by a singer-songwriter that gets a five star review in a high brow newspaper and is advertised on television as “the greatest album you will hear this year”.

I say this; never ever answer the question “what is your guilty pleasure?” with anything other than:

“I don’t have any guilty pleasures!”

The truth is they are simply “pleasures” and there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

Why should you feel guilty?

Is it possibly because you are effectively admitting to being guilty of dumbing down and are too ashamed to admit that you are an avid fan of the latest soap opera and much prefer it to a critically acclaimed series about how opera music changed the style of classic music in the last two hundred years?

It is nobody’s business but my own whether I choose to “dumb down” and watch tacky television.

I like what I like and I don’t care whether it is considered stupid, immature or dreadful by the pseudo-intellectual or those who think they are superior in some way to us all.

By way of research, I just asked Mr Google to tell me about “guilty pleasures” and one of the first things I found was an article with the title “Celebrity Guilty Pleasures Prove Stars Are Just Like Us!”

How dare they? How bloody DARE they imply that so-called celebrities are somehow above the rest of us. It’s almost as if the tabloids and newspapers are implying that in order to evolve, you need to become famous. And when you are famous, the way you connect with the plebeian class (i.e. the rest of us) is by letting your guard down and admitting that you have guilty pleasures in common with them.

One of the so-called celebrities actually surprised me with his answer to the question. It was Russell Brand. He said:

 “I don’t have guilty pleasures. If something gives you pleasure, don’t feel guilty about it as long as you’re not harming anybody else!”

I totally agree with that.

To summarise, dear reader, my message to you is this:

Stop feeling guilty!


joeh said...

You call them pseudo-intellectuals, I call them ass-holes.

I would admit to calling some foods guilty pleasures as I know they are not good for me and are simply a rare treat for which I might feel a twinge of guilt, but as for the things you mention, I agree 100%

I think you and I would get along just fine.

River said...

Bingo! I agree with this. I don't feel guilty about anything that I like.
I love eating aniseed rings, those rings of licorice covered in chocolate and prefer them over a fancy box of fancy chocolates. So what?
And I never understood or agreed with that more common feeling, "mummy guilt".
When your child isn't walking or talking or eating "the right" organic foods and you feel guilty or are made to feel guilty even though you and your child are perfectly happy,healthy,eating and sleeping well. So what if they didn't have the latest educational toys and books? They played peacefully with their siblings and you read to them at bedtime, sometimes even made up stories which stimulated their imaginations far more than some highly acclaimed children's book which I found as dull as dishwater.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

I call them ass-holes (arseholes) too. I don't even feel guilty about food these days. If I were to believe everything I read or am told then I would starve!




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I know what you mean about pseudo-intellectual parenting.

"Tristram eats organic molluscs because they encourage brain development! He's 18 moths old. I read it in a book by ... "





Jackie K said...

Here here! You are absolutely right. Not only is life too short, but as you say many people let convention or what they think should be art dictate their artistic opinions. I have read one great Salman Rushdie and one I couldn't finish; many 'great' works of literature (some of which I agree really are great), and also a lot of Stephen King, Dennis Lehane and similar, some of which, also, were great.

River is right about mummy-guilt too. Took me far too long to stop having that, and I actually still haven't stopped, but am trying.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

You will get over Mummy Guilt; I got over Dad Guilt - apart from still being a childish embarrassment to them both.