Blowhard, Esq. writes:
Over at BoingBoing Mark Dery suggests that it’s time to get back in touch with our guilt and shame when it comes to certain things:
Guilty pleasures are all about cognitive dissonance. When I say Thomas Harris novels like Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon are one of my guilty pleasures, it’s not because I’m a holdover from a bygone era when People Like Us believed “in some kind of universal taste” or because I’m a closet snob who’s secretly “most comfortable in the elite precincts of high art”; it’s because I’m genuinely ambivalent about Harris. I want to nuance my affection, locate it somewhere on the grayscale spectrum between the black-or-white binaries of love and loathing.
My knee-jerk reaction upon hearing the phrase “guilty pleasure” is to be one of those people who says, “No no, one shouldn’t feel guilt about any pleasure,” but Dery is making me reassess my position because I think contemporary fanboy culture could use a healthy dose of ambivalence and cognitive dissonance.
As Fabrizio has observed in conversations I’ve had with him, and as Kevin Smith also points out in his interview with Bret Easton Ellis, is dispiriting how many fanboys turn art into a proxy for sports or politics. A movie or album is either The Greatest Thing Ever or a Piece of Shit. There’s no in-between — it’s like they’re rooting for a favorite presidential candidate or against a hated rival team. Sure, I get the appeal of loyal tribalism and don’t at all dismiss it, but isn’t one of the great things about art the fact that it defies such easy on-or-off categorization? You’d think so but I come across so many people today for whom nuance just doesn’t compute. Movie critic Matt Zoller Seitz has complained about the same thing. He once tweeted: <<[Banjo twang] “Gather ’round, y’all! I’m a-gonna tell ya a story ’bout a thing people used to know how to read: a ‘mixed review.'”>>
- An old 2Blowhards post where Michael Blowhard admitted to his own guilty pleasures and readers pitched in with their own.