I think everybody has guilty pleasures. These pleasures might be as simple and acceptable as dark chocolate with hazel nuts or as illegal and horrifying as child porn.
For example when I was in grade three or four I used to like taking the spare change out of a big glass jar that my dad kept on a shelf in his bedroom wardrobe. I wouldn’t take it to spend it.
I would divide all the coins up into separate piles of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 cent pieces and try to find the newest coins by the dates. Sounds enthralling doesn’t it? But I loved doing it and I never told anyone about it. The weird thing is now I put all my shrapnel, (a wonderful term for loose change,) in an old Commonwealth Bank moneybox in a drawer in my bedroom. So a trivial thing but something clearly did rub off.
Which is ok because I am not sure guilty pleasures always need to be known by another person to be guilty. It really is more about how you feel.
The Doobie Brothers, one of the USA’s best chart bands of the 70s named an early album ”What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits”. Which might also be the definition of a guilty pleasure.
So what definition for guilty pleasure am I using here? The pleasure part is easy but why is the pleasure guilty?
I think it’s guilty if it is a behaviour that is out of character with how you and/or the rest of the world sees you or if it is judged generally as odd, bad or even downright disturbing by other people. So therefore you feel a sense of guilt.
I also think this is predominantly male behaviour. I think men form friendships over shared likes and maybe even more so over shared dislikes. This bonding is built up over endless discussions and comparisons about the subject at hand and of course male friendship is also strongly characterised by endless sledging and teasing about differences around taste in music, beer, clothes, football teams etc.
So for men guilty pleasures can be serious things within the context of friendships.
For example I find great enjoyment in the murder pantomimes of the English crime show Midsomer Murders. I should hate the clichés, the cardboard characters, the exaggerated death rates and the blatant stealing of other shows’ original ideas but I don’t. For me it is a guilty pleasure.
Shit I have copped some sledging over this.
Naturally once you have reached middle age your guilty pleasures have probably evolved or changed through the different periods of your life. And, as you get old it is quite possible that your guilty pleasures also start to revolve around areas that you would rather not have to talk about in public.
Hence the punch line of the old joke, “But you fuck one goat…”
Some people would never tell you about their secret urges to eat a stick of chalk now and again while other people have no trouble telling you that they have their best sex dressed like Nero pretending they are a Roman emperor.
Different pleasures but I think still guilty ones.
The TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a guilty pleasure that I will defend with a passion despite it having of some of the same deadly TV sins as Midsomer. In the golden era of TV we have had this century I rank Buffy up there with Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Walking Dead etc. for pushing genre boundaries, wit, originality and sexual politics.
Christ, now I think about it I have got quite a few guilty pleasures. Here for the record is some more.
I quite enjoy talking to myself regardless of the possible indication to my future state of mind.
I still enjoy eating Milo out of the tin.
I love making a list and ticking things off as they are done.
Long showers in the middle of a water shortage are a guilty pleasure for me.
I can watch Love Actually every Christmas with great delight and a slow walk through a cemetery reading gravestones is fun.
Also I really like being right and I know people hate this with good reason, but I love saying, “I told you so.”
Guilty pleasures and bad habits cross over big time.
But most of my guilty pleasures revolve around music.
You see I am a terrible music snob and have many friends that way as well. We don’t do it to be annoying pains in the arse, it’s just that music means more to us than a background to a meal in a restaurant or something to shop too.
Music is way more important than that and if people can get obsessed about orchids or wine or craft beer I can pontificate about the genius of Bowie, the grandeur of Led Zeppelin and the importance of The Velvet Underground. I can argue with my esteemed music snob colleagues (pissing off our wives and partners) big time all night on the legacy of The Smiths, the artistic demise of Rod Stewart, who was best Britpop band of the 90s and most importantly is Rock dead?
And why not?
After all a whole weekend each year in Bathurst has been sacred for decades to decide whether Falcons are better than Holdens.
By the way is there a bigger waste of money and resources than motorsport?
Not to mention a whole lot of contradictory messages around safe driving.
To me it is a big yawn. Especially Formula One, which seems to me to be like bad porn. The first five minutes you’re excited, the next ten minutes you are impressed at the various skills that the participants have to perform at such high levels and then you slowly get bored unless there is some unexpected accident.
But for me it’s music.
And no, it is that important and no, its not a case of just like it or not and yes, you should care that this is a blatant rip off of an old Leadbelly song.
Damn it, its important! V8 touring car, Richmond Tigers, Brisbane Broncos, Mornington Peninsula Pinot, whatever craft beer variety is popular this week important.
So for me, admitting to friends that I quite enjoy large slabs of Taylor Swift’s recorded output is admitting to a guilty pleasure. I particularly enjoy singing Mean and You Belong With Me in the car on the way to work.
Ditto the big 70s hits by relatively unknown or one hit artists like Pilot, Bobby Sherman and 80s artists like The Thompson Twins. I shouldn’t like them but I just do.
Go West, The Sweet, Mondo Rock, The Alan Parsons Project and The Go-Gos are on my playlist side by side with Big Star, Sonic Youth, The Melvins, Grouplove and The Arctic Monkeys.
Guilty pleasures mixed with the admirable. So what to read from this?
Don’t succumb to peer group pleasure, like what you like, recognise that McDonalds and organic vegetable curry are both meals, just different interpretations. Corny and schmaltzy can be fun but there are some pleasures you might wish to reconsider or at least keep to yourself.
I am talking things like Barry Manilow and goats.
So my favourite five guilty pleasure songs in no particular order.
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Instant Replay- Dan Hartman
Firework - Katy Perry
Gonna Make you A Star – David Essex
Murder on the Dance Floor- Sophie Baxter Ellis