Not guilty

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Recently, I've realized that I use the term "guilty pleasure" to describe the things I like way more than I should. As far back as I can remember, I've liked television, music and books with questionable merits.

I recall gleefully watching "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?" on the Lifetime Network in 2001, a simpler time when Tori Spelling's face moved and studio executives believed a film called "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?" would be a feasible theatrical release. Fortunately, my youth allowed me to watch unimpressive TV movies without changing the channel when someone walked in the room.

In high school, I outright bragged about how much I loved "The Tyra Banks Show." I even forced my friends to watch episodes of it, insisting it was the height of cringe-entertainment. Somehow, it didn't bother me that other people considered the things I liked cringeworthy.

I'm not sure when that changed, but I know it has. Just this Saturday, a friend asked me what I was doing and I had to lie to him to maintain a somewhat respectful image. I said I was reading a book of Sylvia Plath's poems, but I was really watching "America's Next Top Model" and playing Typer Shark.

I don't really know why I lied; my friends know I like to unwind with ridiculous reality TV. In that moment, though, I couldn't bring myself to admit to an outsider how I was spending my day off. I have a similar problem regarding the music I listen to.

When other people are in my car, I play indie or alternative folk music. Sometimes I play melancholy rock like The Cure. I do genuinely like this music, but it isn't always what I listen to when I'm alone. Those tunes, I'm afraid to admit, probably aren't considered respectable by most people.

My secret favorite artists -- acts I suppose would fall in the "guilty pleasure" category -- range from Poison to Kanye West to the Dwight Twilley Band. I played a song from West's "College Dropout" album for a friend recently and had to pretend I was totally joking about liking it when he started making fun of it.

I couldn't even call it a guilty pleasure. And why should I have to do that? Why can't I be happy with liking the things I like? Why do I care so much about what other people think that I lie about TV shows and music I enjoy?

I don't think I should. Yes, I've recently created a playlist on Rhapsody called "80's Music Everyone Loves." Yes, I watched half a season of "Hell's Kitchen" on Sunday. So what? I work hard during the week, and I deserve to like the things I like unabashedly when I have time to enjoy them.

I can't promise this will happen, but I'm going to try to cut the phrase "guilty pleasure" from my vocabulary. If I like something, I'm going to like it and I'm not going to care if someone judges me for it.

After all, there's no shame in having unpopular opinions as long as you aren't ashamed of yourself for it.

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Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com