When a cat dies, men without original thoughts like to comfort their crying girlfriends by letting them know that without darkness, there would be no light. Without the bad, how can good be defined? People have a tendency to have that same black or white view with pop culture. At least, the ones that like to share their opinions do. What isn’t seen as great can’t very well be just good. It can only be bad. For instance, I enjoyed Anchorman 2, though I was told it was horrible and I should hate it, which I’ve determined was only because it wasn’t as good as the first one. This is where I believe we find ourselves feeling bad for liking things that aren’t horrible; our “guilty pleasures” (though the term is absolutely ridiculous, as described here by Chuck Klosterman). Lately, I’ve grown to appreciate those overly opinionated people who make me feel bad for liking what I like.
I like Avril Lavigne, Pro-Wrestling, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese more than homemade, the Nickelback song “Photograph” and 90s Boy Bands (unironically). I also own 5 Fall Out Boy albums (as well as lead singer Patrick Stump’s solo effort “Soul Punk”), and by album I of course mean digital download… though I’m sure there are the snobs among us who would tell me if I love them on mp3, I should hear them on Compact Disk, but I digress… I like 90% of the songs on those 5 albums. I own a Mumford and Son’s album and a Kings of Leon album, I’m not sure what my opinion of either of these bands is supposed to be now, but when I bought them they were decidedly more in vogue with the hipster crowd than FOB. I like 4 total songs from those 2 albums.
This is clearly because my palette is not as defined as others. Maybe it’s because I prefer my music to be easier to digest. I listen to music to be put at ease and to listen to more complicated music would have the opposite effect for me. I’ve never played an instrument and not only do I not know about the intricacies of music, I don’t care to learn. Having been trained in comedy, this is most likely the reason I have the opposite feelings when it comes to laughter. I find I want my enjoyment to be earned, I prefer the less watched “smart comedies” like Community and Parks and Recreation to broader more watched (yet somehow defined as guilty pleasure) comedies on the CBS network.
My point isn’t to say that everything is just as good as everything else and it just depends on who is experiencing it. That is silly. Community is clearly a better written show than Two and a Half Men and Mumford is better than Fall Out Boy. But to knock someone for what they like or to make that person feel ashamed enough to say something like “Big Bang Theory makes me laugh, but others don’t like it so I pretend I don’t because I feel ashamed.” defeats the purpose of why we seek entertainment in the first place. We seek entertainment to feel good; to remove us from real life for a little bit.
To put it another way, A Banksy isn’t a da Vinci, yet I prefer the former, but I do know that to make such a statement as “Banksy is better than da Vinci” would be ridiculous. Just because millions of people prefer a kid chasing a red heart balloon doesn’t mean others should treat it as just as good as the Mona Lisa, because it’s not. To make a blanket statement like “Everything is special in its own way” would be like treating my tastes like the uninterested Little Leaguer who for an entire summer sat in right field picking flowers, yet still “earned” the honor of gripping his participation trophy with his greasy little fingers at the end of season pizza party. But the parents who showed up all summer in support of the kid aren’t wrong for doing it. They loved to watch their kid play, even if he wasn’t as good, because it made them feel good.
My point is, you can like something while recognizing it’s not as good as something else. The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a championship since 1908, yet remain the 4th most valuable baseball club, but no Cubs fan would ever keep their fandom in private or say “The Cubs are my guilty pleasure.” Fans shell out money year after year in support of a product that just isn’t as good as good as the rest. Yet each time a Yankees fan (admittedly, I am one) touts their 27 championships, fans of teams like the Cubs seem prouder. This is because it’s easy to be fan of what’s widely considered good. To support the Cubs is to be a part of something with other people. To say “this is ours, you may not like it and they may not win any championships, but we’re proud to be their fans, because they make us feel good.”
Those people who insult your tastes in pop culture are the Yankee fans. Without their darkness, you wouldn’t have your light. If they didn’t spend so much time telling you how much the thing you like sucks, you may not have grown such an attachment to it. So the next time someone insults your Nickelback collection, clutch your Chad Kroeger autographed 8 × 10 even harder and let them know that they may not win any awards, but listening to them makes you feel good. So why should you feel guilty about that?
About The Author:
Chris Luther is a NYC based comedian and non-profit fundraiser. Read some of his previous articles like Wrestlers Who Are Probably Smarter Than You: Raven or 7 Oblivious People Slowly Driving Us All Insane or follow him on Twitter @chriscantlose.