My Blog__ PLEASURES NEVER GUILTY

November 04, 2009 | By

Sometimes I think that Chuck Klosterman and I would make a really good couple. I read his work and often feel this sweeping gust of relief. I'm not crazy. Someone else gets it. It's the same feeling I had when I first fell in love at age eighteen. Kindred spirit-type shit. A state of admiration love.

The other night I was getting my dose of Chuck while reading, Not Guilty (which he published a 2004 issue of Esquire). It's an opinion piece about the term 'guilty pleasure'. Chuck doesn't like this term and in sassy, classy Chuck-style he tells us exactly why. First, he defines what a "guilty pleasure" really is (something like snorting cocaine in a toilet stall, fucking someone you hate, fucking your friend's ex). These things feel good, but the guilt always follows. However Chuck notes that people do not talk about these sorts of events when they use the term 'guilty pleasure'. They talk about stuff like reality t.v, sitcoms, comic books and fast food. Chuck says this drives him insane because by labeling things like Patrick Swayze (his example) as "guilty pleasures" it means that people a) feel bad about liking something they truly enjoy and that b) if these same folks were not forced to watch Swayze movies they would be reading Shakespeare or discussing Hemmingway over a nice port. (By the time I get to this line I am planning our secret wedding.)

Chuck says we shouldn't apologize for things we enjoy, even if they are things such as The Ashlee Simpson Show (a Chuck pleasure). There is no universal taste or demarcation of what is artistically good or bad. Culture just is and, as Chuck so magnificantly puts it: "it never matters what you like; what matters is why you like it".

So, here we go. A list of pleasures. Never guilty.

THE REAL HOUSE WIVES OF ATLANTA - I love this program for a few reasons. Atlanta beats out all the other Real House Wives series by far because it is jammed packed with drama, music, fashion independence parties. I don't know about you, but I think it's really interesting to watch these rich, powerful (questionable) women, who are completely out-of-touch with my world, work their lives. I will never know what it is like to value the same things these women do but for an hour a week, I get to enjoy the way television spins their daily errands into caddy entertainment. Kim, my favorite character on the show, is a single woman with two kids and a desire to start a musical career. So, she did because her friend has a home recording studio. Duh. Kim also has a mystery boyfriend, Big Poppa (a married man who is Atlanta's real estate king) and she drinks white wine like it's a daily vitamin. Real House Wives confuses me, angers me and excites me. It also makes me laugh and ask questions. I like that.

RIOT GRRRL - I love riot grrrl. It was a big part of my introduction to punk music. Reading Tobi Vail's zines and listening to Kathleen Hanna's lyrics made me interested in feminism. I wrote a lot about the politics of riot grrrl when I was in university which allowed me to understand the many critiques from different groups of women. Riot Grrrls got a bad rep from the media for being obnoxious, talentless little girls, but you know what? They forced people to ask questions and created new spaces for girls in punk music. I don't care if they had to piss the world off in order to accomplish that.

SPORE ORIGINS - Spore is a computer game that I have on my phone. This phone was given to me by a friend. One day while on the bus from New Jersey, I discovered this game. The previous owner of the phone had already completed some levels, so I picked up where he had left off. In Spore you begin as a microscopic organism and work your way through the earth evolving into your own personalized creature with each level you pass. It fucking rules. My boyfriend and I got so into Spore that we played it on transit, in line, even in bed together, silently gaming in our underwear. We didn't talk much when we were playing (unless it was about Spore), but you know what? It was super fun. And while we're on the subject, I also love my iphone. It double fucking rules.

GAVIN MCINNES YOUTUBE VIDEOS - Founder of Vice magazine, Gavin McInnes is a really smart guy. He grasped the needs of a subculture niche at the right moment and kick-started an entire culture of "cool" (some might argue that Dove Charney could have McInnes beat). People love to hate hipsters and Gavin McInnes is the king. However, he is also a savvy business man, interesting writer and humorous cultural critic. I once posted a video McInnes did on my other blog and I had an bunch of anonymous comments get all upset with me for liking McInnes. "I thought the author of this blog be against defending hipster shit." Defending what? I like the video he made with his daughter. I haven't turned McInnes into my religion or sold my soul to the A.A Gods. Isn't this along the lines of what Chuck is talking about? People assuming universal definitions of good or bad depending on a social stereotype? Did you know I also like jazz music? Guess that means I'm not "punk" anymore. Too bad.

More over, McInnes likes to make entertaining youtube videos with his kids which I find great pleasure in watching.

JUDGE JUDY - Most people would agree that all court-room reality television is trash television. Maybe so, but there is something about Judge Judy that delivers. Judge Judy, besides being a ball of charismatic fire herself, is an interesting depiction of the art of story-telling. Watching two different parties tell two completely different stories about the same event is another reminder of how we construct reality or our own "truths". Remember that episode of Seinfeld when Jerry's cop girlfriend wants him to take a lie detector test because she thinks he is secretly watching Melrose Place? George gives Jerry some advice on how to beat the test. "It's not a lie if you believe it." Everyone on Judge Judy is using the Costanza method of truth and barely getting away with it.


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