Sunday, 23 January 2011
Do you has good taste?
“Guilty pleasures” is a phrase that has worked its way in to modern parlance and from there it’s only a small skip and a jump to overuse and cliché. In case you are not down with its meaning (I am SO down with the kids) it means something you enjoy buy feel “guilty” for doing so. Any guilt involved is apparently to do with being caught participating in an activity which is thought to be deeply un-cool by your peers.
The more I hear this phrase, the more it annoys me. One the one hand I can understand that at our deepest level we are social creatures and anything that puts us at a remove from our social group is something to be avoided. A l’autre main, we are individuals and if whatever I am doing doesn’t harm anyone else why should I care what you think, fool?
And who gets to decide what is cool or un-cool? Is there some arbitrary notion that hypnotises en masse? Or is it all influenced by a media that browbeats us every minute of every waking day with their choices?
The media is run my people just like us. Why do they get to decide what we should and shouldn’t watch? Someone gives them a job on a newspaper, magazine or TV programme and we should suddenly listen to them like they are the Great Guru of Taste?
Sheep. That’s we are, the fecking lot of us. Fecking sheep. Something is given the glamour of popularity by the chosen few and we rush to show that we are as cool as everyone else.
Baa, baa, baa.
And I can be just as baaad as anyone else. Up to a point. Then I tend to make my mind up for myself.
(Recently I noticed that women were carrying about handbags with a wee dog on them. Radbury? ‘Cos they had a small piece of leather in the outline of a dog they were suddenly desirable. Like most men I don’t get the fascination with bags, but a leather doggy-tag? WTF?)
What instigated this mini rant-ette was my viewing on Youtube the other night. I began watching music videos by John Legend (cool?) and Quincy Jones (mega cool?). Which led to Melinda Doolittle (the best singer never to win American Idol – as far as the cool score goes your guess is as good as mine) Beyonce (cool?) and then on to Barbra Streisand (mmmm? She was more cool when she wasn’t singing all that Lloyd Webber stuff.) and Barry Manilow (deeply uncool?).
An hour or so of “guilty pleasures”? Quite a journey and one that would have had my mates pissing themselves laughing. But to be frank I couldn’t give a shit. These peeps all produce great music, great vocals and great tunes.
I caught and stopped myself using the GP phrase just recently when I was talking about books. I almost said Wilbur Smith was a #hangs head in shame# guilty pleasure. For the briefest of moments – I was talking to someone I wanted to impress –I worried that enjoying Smith’s books might make me look less of whatever I was trying to be. As I said, I caught myself and proudly noted that I was a fan.
Are you a literary snob? Do you only read the classics? Are your shelves filled only with the likes of Atwood, Conrad, Austen and the latest Man Booker/ Pulitzer prizewinner? Do you rush to hide the latest Stephen King or James Patterson when you hear a knock at the door? Why is popular fiction derided as somehow being unworthy? Our own P.M. David Cameron tried to excuse his “poor judgement” by writing off his holiday reading as “trashy novels”.
Making me think, what a twat!
(And don’t you love democracy? In some parts of the world that would have earned me a few nights stay in a cell, an episode of water-boarding and a police baton wedged up my arse.)
IMHO there is only good writing and bad writing. If the book grips or entertains me why should I worry if the taste police look down on me?
If you find yourself kow-towing to this needless waste of energy, stand tall and announce your preference with pride and offer a biblical pox on the decision-makers of “good” taste.
What books/ writers are you now going to proudly proclaim as favourites?