The One About Guilty Pleasures

Imitation is the ultimate flattery, they say. In an attempt to imitate my brother’s approach to the things he loves, I decided to start embracing my guilty pleasures.In case you haven’t read my previous post on all the things I’ve learned from my somewhat younger but somehow wiser brother D, he is the kind of person that has the admirable quality of being shamelessly affectionate towards certain things (or people) without caring about other people’s opinions. So that’s what I aspire to do, embrace my guilty pleasures and share them openly; shifting them to the category ‘Things I Wholeheartedly Love (and That Make My Eyes Sparkle with Joy When I Talk About Them). 

When I say guilty pleasures, I refer mainly to cultural artefacts of questionable quality. In a world where the world cool will one day become acceptable even for resumes and LinkedIn profiles, one has to watch/read/visit/listen/be informed about the right things so as to classify as cool. And this is, more or less, how the idea of guilty pleasures began. The term sums up all the things we enjoy but only in private so as not to be judged for our tastes.

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The TV Show

When somebody asks me what TV shows I watch, I usually answer Game of Thrones or House of Cards. I might be cheeky enough and tell them that I really loved Mr Robot (I did. Until Season 1, Episode 5. That’s how far I got.) and that I’m looking forward to starting Narcos.

I genuinely enjoy all of them – yes, even GoT where every single likeable character ends up dead. But my favourite show is always going to be Sex and The City. I can quote it, discuss it all night long, tell you who wore what in which season, be honest about how egoistic a person Carrie Bradshaw can be from time to time (the answer: Very.) and how cringe-worthy several of the outfits worn by the four protagonists are. I’ve also self diagnosed myself as a Miranda.

Quality-wise, SATC is not the best show out there. Or the smartest despite many of its jokes being a true headache for subtitlers and dubbers all over the world. It’s also not thaaaaat relatable. But I love it. Simple as that.

The Movie

If my spirit animal was a movie, then it would probably be Bridget Jones’ Diary. I remember stumbling upon a review of it whilst doing research for a subtitling assignment for uni less than a year ago. A truer summary of the concept that runs through the entire movie and a more relatable statement have never been written, if you ask me:

So what if you’ve put on a few extra pounds, appear gawky and tongue-tied in tense social situations, and wear bulky, little-girl underwear on a heavy date? And so what if you don’t follow ”The Rules” and still give your heart too easily to a suave charmer you suspect (no, you’re pretty sure) of being a cad? What’s important is being yourself. After all, isn’t it the real you, the quirky, quick-witted, honest, plucky, chin-up, lovable, wonderful inner you that he’s going to recognize as the genuine ruby shining amid a pile of fakes? (Holden 2001)

Let’s be honest. Is it a cliché-ridden romantic comedy that does not pretend (or attempt) to be anything more that than? Yes. Does our heroine go through loads of trouble and kisses many frogs hoping that they will transform into princes but manages to find her Mr. Darcy in the end? Yes. Is she a rare cinematographic example of a fallible, vulnerable, imperfect and brutally real female character? You bet she is. And this also explains why I love this movie so much; the attempts to get her shit (sorry, Mother) life together and carve a new path for herself, both professional and emotional, the self-help books, the ‘I’m a work in progress not a quintessential, glamorous doll’ attitude.

The Book

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my oldest, dearest woman crushes. I read her best-seller Eat, Pray, Love back in 2011 whilst going through a relatively rough patch in my life (in a #firstworldproblems kind of way), and I literally inhaled the book. Her words and ideas soothed my anxieties and insecurities, and I’ve been since returning to this book every time I need an emotional pick me up.

I consider myself a keen reader with a slightly bipolar bookshelf (from YA to Dostoevsky). I’ve read Greek and English authors that left me in such awe that I wondered why people bothered writing books after that – I’m so glad they did – but I somehow return to Eat, Pray, Love more often than I’d dare to confess. (Well, I just did.)

To conclude with, every person seems to have his/her own list of guilty pleasures. Even though talking about them often makes people blush, the conversations I’ve had so far show that people derive true joy and fulfillment from their guilty pleasures. So I couldn’t help but wonder… why don’t we pursue them more openly? More honestly? Why don’t we indulge in them more frequently? The word guilty seems to be the root of all evil in this case. We are in dire need of a semantic makeover. As Melissa Cassera suggests:

I’ve decided to re-define the term “guilty pleasure” as something that ignites and electrifies you in a way that should be totally illegal, but isn’t. It’s something you should enjoy every day, with wild abandon. It doesn’t (necessarily) have to be unhealthy or calorie-laden, but it’s got to feel decadent.

What do you think?

Indulgent (as always),

F.

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