What’s your guilty pleasure? Most people name the simplest things, like sleeping in late, eating two pieces of birthday cake or bellowing along to that catchy pop song on the radio. Recently I ran into one of my own old guilty pleasures, and it opened me up to do a bit of research.
Last week I rediscovered one of my own guilty pleasures; one I cryptically described on Twitter.
As an avid collector of old copies of interesting literature, I don’t think I’ll run out of good novels anytime soon. But once in a while I want something flimsy to read. While a lot of people will be ashamed to admit they’d make a grab for some random chicklit, I’m raising you with romantic vampire novels. Yep, this includes The Twilight Saga, about an abstinent vampire who falls for a particular girl he considers michelin-star gourmet. If that didn’t sound tacky enough to you, I just have to remind you of the love-triangle that ensues with a werewolf, and how said werewolf ends up falling in love with the vampire couple’s baby.
Ask me what I really think about Twilight, and I’ll honestly admit that I think that the writing style is cringe-worthy, just as the plot of the sequels. But when I decide to pick up the books for the umpteenth time, you’ll find me swooning over forbidden love as much as the next Twihard*.
Unfortunately even these particular books can’t sate my hunger anymore. So I was in fact googling for similar teen-angst ridden, romantic vampire stories. And this is when I typed down my tweet. If googling for dubious literature wasn’t enough, it was the cover art that really made my hairs stand on end*. I became painfully aware of the guilt – or rather embarrassment – I was feeling that accompanied my pleasure.
* Just to give you a proper image of the cover-equation; this is how awful they are. Chiseled men with tacky tattoos posing in front of backdrops with flames and lightning. Give me some classic Fabio any day!
What makes a guilty pleasure?
The Urban Dictionary describes a guilty pleasure as “something that you shouldn’t like, but like anyway”.
I think this is an interesting concept. Because when you think about it, who or what determines what you should or shouldn’t like?
The moment I decided I wanted to read Twilight, I wanted to read it right that instant. So rather than ordering the book online, I made for my local bookstore. When I reached the cashier, I jokingly asked for a brown paper bag to put it in. She winked and heartily obliged. We had a mutual understanding that day, the cashier and I.
But just think about it. What if these particular novels would have been held in high regard by society? What if flaunting a copy of Twilight under your arm would be as chic (if not pretentious) as carrying around a brick of Tolstoj, or Kafka?
I bet it would be all pleasure, and no guilt.
Popular and original guilty pleasures
After a bit of googling I found out that a lot of people consider particular music to be a guilty pleasure, just like chocolate, being lazy, or binge-watching a series. I think this is very significant regarding to society’s perception of perfection, and even what’s considered ordinary. What is less typical is that a lot of guilty pleasures seem to be of a bodily or sexual nature, because these are things considered to be practiced in private.
If you’re interested in the honest, anthropologically responsible answer to the question “What is your guilty pleasure”, make sure to google the various topics on the matter on Reddit. But I made it easy for you and grabbed a couple of my favorites I found online:
“Taylor Swift and Starbucks frappuchino’s. I’m a straight male, I swear!”
“Whenever I watch Liam Neeson in a movie, I like to imagine he’s my father, and this is the story of how he kicked ass.”
“I like to drink chocolate milk with a soup spoon and bowl, pretending it’s chocolate soup.”
“Making goofy faces at young children at the grocery store, when they’re too young to express themselves to their parents.”
“Fried chicken, watermelon and grape soda. I’m black. It’s so stereotypical I just can’t stand it.”
“Checking myself out naked in the mirror.”
“Sometimes I think horrible thoughts, like my mother dying, to purposefully make myself sad. I do this to make myself cry a lot because it helps me sleep sometimes and it makes me feel really good when I wake up.”
It’s needless to say that if you like something, you shouldn’t be bothered by other people’s opinions. Do your thing, and own up to it; it’s as simple as that. Don’t let your pleasure become a source of shame simply because it doesn’t fit popular opinion. Indulge yourself in your guilty pleasures, as long as you don’t harm yourself or anyone else!
As for my vampire romance novel escapade: Eventually I picked a book to order with a cover that was tolerable. But if I do end up ordering something with I feel shouldn’t see the light of day, I could always look for an alternative book cover. There’s a collection of raunchy Harry Potter book disguises you wouldn’t want to miss!
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What are your guilty pleasures?