Reader Request Week 2013 #3: Guilty Pleasures
John Glaenzer asks:
What guilty pleasures do you have? Belting out CW McCall songs on Friday night? Watching reruns of “Mythbusters” in your bathrobe, because dressing on Saturday is too much of a hassle? Writing mildly amusing comments on a semi-famous science fiction writers blo….
Anyway, what are your guilty pleasures?
I don’t have any, because I don’t feel guilty about my pleasures.
Which is not to say that I don’t have a lot of silly or simple or even stupid pleasures. Among them, the joy of blowing the heads off zombies in the Left 4 Dead video games, listening to Journey after the age of twenty one, eating an astounding array of junk food mitigated only by a daily multivitamin, or making up songs about my pets and singing them when one enters the room (Yes, my pets have theme songs? Don’t yours? Hmmm). I do all of these things — and more! Really, a large percentage of my pleasures are, shall we say, uncomplicated.
I don’t feel guilty about them, however, because, eh, why should I? My pleasures make me happier to a greater or lesser degree, they don’t hurt anyone else, and in any event one of the great advantages to being a grown up is being able to do what the hell you want and not have to apologize for it or run it past anyone else. The reason we call things “guilty pleasures” is usually because we substitute someone else’s judgment for their value over our own.
I’m not inclined to do that. One, because I feel comfortable with my own judgment on what gives me pleasure and don’t need validation from anyone else. Two, because even if I did need validation from everyone else, everyone else would be a hypocrite on this score, since everyone (or at least everyone I’ve ever met in my life) has their own set of pleasures that someone else would look askance upon — and because every pleasure in life has almost certainly been looked askance upon. Every pleasure is a guilty pleasure to someone. Eventually you just have to stop caring if your pleasure has the approval of the majority, or of a critically-minded minority, or of, you know, your mom.
The flip side of this is that it makes it easier for you to not care what gives other people pleasure. Like Nickelback? I’m not a fan at all and I don’t mind cracking the occasional joke at their expense, but you know what? If you like them and listening to them gives you happiness, then listen to them and be happy. A huge fan of basketball? I’m not much for it outside of a highlight reel, but that shouldn’t stop you. Enjoy your bouncy ball heaved about by tall persons. Enjoy you some sparkly vampires? I am painfully aware that sparkly vampires give me no pleasure whatsoever. But if they give you pleasure, then please to enjoy you some shiny bloodsuckers. I don’t need to care about what you like, and more to the point, you don’t need to care what I think about what you like.
(There’s also the fact that, to be blunt about it, what I do professionally is likely seen as a “guilty pleasure” by some, because there are people who look down at genre fiction and/or science fiction and/or me as a writer. And, well. I don’t want people to feel like they have to make an excuse or feel guilty for reading what I write to anyone; I just want them to enjoy it.)
So, yeah: No guilty pleasures. I like what I like, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Wheee!
(It’s not too late to get in a topic for Reader Request Week: Go here for the details and to leave your request!)