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ArJewTino

“Latins are tenderly enthusiastic. In Brazil, they throw flowers at you. In Argentina, they throw themselves." -- Marlene Dietrich

The guilt of pleasure

Urban Dictionary defines a “guilty pleasure” as “Something that you shouldn't like, but like anyway.” It cites, as examples, lawn gnomes and Tara Reid. Not sure who’s getting any pleasure out of Tara Reid (perverted hedonists?), but the idea of guilty pleasures is, nevertheless, an interesting one.

For example, Talking Budgie wrote last month about her love of seeing Billy Joel in concert. I thought that took some big ovaries for her to admit, but she was proud of her affection. Blogging about your love of BJ is like telling people you find Scientology interesting: it makes them laugh and question your sanity.

But everyone has guilty pleasures, probably dozens. Most of them we confess to friends and strangers with a degree of irony so as not to be designated as social outcasts. Others we have trouble even admitting to ourselves, let alone to those whose opinions we value.

I am no stranger to internalized shame. As a Jew, and I think Kassy K would agree, we learn early on that guilt is not just part of life, it’s almost a requisite. But why should there be shame in the things we love or derive pleasure from? Why can’t I tell people that I love statistics to an insane degree, or that I secretly eat at McDonald’s despite my outward derision of fast food (thanks, Fast Food Nation, thanks a lot)?

Most guilty pleasures are related to pop culture, most notably music, movies, or TV shows. I know someone who absolutely loves the show “Reba” on the WB, another who is addicted to reality shows, and another who buys a bag of pork rinds at 7-11 every chance she gets.

Even sports allegiances can be a source of guilty pleasure. You love the Cowboys but grew up in DC? Think Derek Jeter is an exemplary player despite your love of the Red Sox? These are tough things to confess to anyone and can leave even the strongest people cowering in proverbial corners in the fetal position.

So what are some of your guilty pleasures? I will admit one to get it started: I LOVE the song “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. Yes, THAT one. The song popularized during the Gulf War and used by right wing, fascist nut jobs to espouse militaristic patriotism. The one the refrain of which goes:

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free/
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me/
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today/
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the U.S.A.


I can’t get enough of this song. I sing it a capela in the shower. I get chills when I think of the tune. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have to turn in my Liberal card after this, but it’s true, and now that I’ve copped to it, my shame has lessened (a little bit).

So divest yourself of your guilty pleasures, let them go, take pride in them.

But please, for our sake, do it with a whisper.
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