There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure

September 16th, 2008

I used to say that cheesy dance music was my guilty pleasure, as if it was something I wasn’t supposed to like. But that doesn’t make any sense: why should we have to present a different image of who we are to everyone else, one that is so different that we have to laugh off any incompatible interests and hobbies?

From now on I will tell people that I like cheesy dance music. I’m a sucker for a dance beat.

It’s not my favorite style of music. Far from it. I listen to a wide swath of styles and eras. If anything, my favorite would be either mid-60s pop music (see my three favorite songs) or 90s indie-alternative…or late-70s post-punk, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But if I’m feeling down or a little tired, all I need to do is put on XM radio’s BPM station or some dance songs from my┬álibrary, and I usually feel much better.

Why must we call something we like our guilty pleasure?

Do we really need to impress others with only the aspects of our life that we think others will approve? Sometimes, it’s those quirky interests that define who we are: that I like dance music provides a clue as to who I am as a person. Rather, we should be as proud of these features as our more mainstream ones. It’s the odd bits that make someone interesting: think of all the people you admire in history, did they do crazy things without caring what others thought? Albert Einstein never dressed up regardless of the event, Nicola Tesla measured the cubic mass of his food before eating. And think of the quirky interests: Issac Newton was into alchemy; Charles Dickens was fascinated by morgues,┬ácemeteries, and the dead; Quintin Tarantino loves bad action movies from the seventies. There’s better examples that I can’t think of, but you get the idea.

Instead of guilty pleasures we should embrace all of our interests. It’s okay to watch Saved by the Bell, collect war camp paper money, enjoy shopping at dollar stores, be a fan of some little-watched sport like diving, eat Haggis, or any of the millions of things people do that isn’t considered ‘normal’ by most people. We should not be afraid to let others listen to our music collection, or peruse our bookshelves, because these are the things that define us.

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