Any indie cred I ever had is gone.
I don’t know exactly when this realization began to dawn on me: maybe it was when I found the old *Nsync folder in my closet and decided to use it for my journalism class. Or it could’ve been that time (okay, last week) that I watched Moulin Rouge and realized I knew every word to every song. It could honestly be any of an embarrassingly large number of things.
Mostly, though, I blame Miley Cyrus.
Don’t lie. You know you like her new single, “See You Again,” just as much as I do. You probably sing along with it in your room, too. No? Well, what’s that Kelly Clarkson album doing in your iTunes? And is that all 200 seasons of The Bachelor on DVD hiding behind the pint of Coldstone on top of your fridge? That’s what I thought.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, kids. Guilty pleasures are like belly buttons — everyone’s got one. Or maybe ten (guilty pleasures, not belly buttons. That would be weird). It’s probably some remnant left over from the days of your youth, when it was totally cool to wear Aeropostale clothes and Will Smith was still gettin’ jiggy wit it. Conventional wisdom tells us that we should hide this secret love in shame and never speak of it again. No, of course you never went to a Pink concert when you were in sixth grade! Why would you ever do a thing like that? You can deny it all you want, but Block 4 of DM was proof enough that we’re all lying to ourselves, or each other. Watching 500 people belt out the words to “I Want It That Way” and “Hey Jealousy” made it just about impossible to continue insisting that we’re too cool for this.
Still, when we’re not delirious and hallucinating from sleep deprivation, this school can be a little bit judgmental about personal preference. Whether it’s an addiction to Lifetime movies or those trucker hats hidden on a shelf above the closet, we’ve all got something we feel ashamed to mention (or wear). The issue isn’t so much that we’re all snobby, elitist jerks as it is the idea that smart people aren’t supposed to like what’s in the “mainstream.” We’re too intelligent, too educated, too good for that. We can do better.
Why should we, though? What’s wrong with admitting that we like watching Rock of Love just as much as some stripper from Jersey with a thing for ‘80s hair metal does? Enjoying something that other people like doesn’t automatically make you stupid, or a worse person (unless it’s Nickelback. Then you are a bad person, and I have no excuses for you). Let’s remember the purpose of pop culture, folks: to appeal to a broad audience. Granted, this usually does turn into playing to the lowest common denominator, but once in a while it’s okay to be part of that group. Math is overrated anyways.
This isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to like obscure things. Just because other people haven’t heard it doesn’t mean the new Bon Savants single isn’t good, or that you’re pretentious for liking it. Good music, movies, TV shows, desserts — you’re supposed to enjoy them. They exist to make us happy. It’s okay to like your so-indie-they don’t-even-have-a-label-band while still taking time to rock out to “Blackout.”
Maybe I want to feel better about my obsession with America’s Next Dance Crew by encouraging everyone else to ‘fess up to their embarrassing TiVo choices. But considering this age of enlightenment that we profess to live in, when freedom is the buzzword du jour, why should we be ashamed of what we love?
The right to partake in guilty pleasures is even written right in our Declaration of Independence, in that nice little part about the pursuit of happiness and its place as an “inalienable right.” It’s your prerogative to like whatever you want to, even if it’s sugary or dangerous or can’t sing to save its life. Now when your buddy makes fun of you for watching Under Siege for the seventeenth time, just reply that you’ve got the law on your side. It’s your patriotic duty to partake in guilty pleasures, and if your friend can’t appreciate that, it’s obviously because he hates America. And you can bet Steven Seagal would not stand for that.
Miley Cyrus probably wouldn’t, either.