There is no guilt in pleasure

by Mathilde de Gooijer


I love Eurovision. There, I said it. I always go crazy and I even make my own predictions. I can’t be the only one enjoying this musical extravaganza: This year, 186 million viewers gathered in front of their TVs to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Still, I have to defend my love for Eurovision and many people don’t want to admit they watch it; some of them even calling it a ‘guilty pleasure’.

Why do we call things ‘guilty pleasures’? In times of doubt, I turn to the Oxford Dictionary. It defines the term ‘guilty pleasure’ as “something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard”. We all like to watch shows or movies that qualify as guilty pleasures, whether it’s Say yes to the dress, Temptation Island or Grey’s Anatomy. Millions of people watch these shows every week and enjoy them. Sure, they’re not highly intellectual, but you’re not hurting anyone, so why are we being so difficult?

Of course, my parents would rather see me watching CNN and reading Shakespeare. To be exact, I watch the news at eight on a daily basis and read about the state of the world during the day. I have stayed up for entire nights during elections and I find politics very interesting, but even for a news junkie like me, there’s more to life. Listening and occasionally singing along to ABBA and the Backstreet Boys makes doing the dishes a little more fun for me. I lose my mind when I see a Disney Store and I collect rubber ducks. These are not things I would mention during a job interview, but I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed of them.

The only thing I feel uncomfortable about is a podcast called My dad wrote a porno. British actor Jamie Morton found out his father was writing erotic novels and instead of hiding in shame, he reads the novels to his friends James and Alice and shares them with the world. It’s hilarious, but since it’s icky, I feel really awkward when I talk about it and I wouldn’t tell my future in-laws I enjoy this. But if Jamie can conquer this mortifying experience and tell the world about his father’s sexual fantasies, I should be able to stand proud and openly say I like hearing his podcast.

Not only are we making ourselves feel bad by calling our favourite shows and artists ‘guilty pleasures’, we are also insulting the people who made it. Imagine putting your heart and soul into a movie or a song and people end up feeling ashamed that they like it. A very brave teacher once confessed she loved soap operas, but I had to swear I wouldn’t tell her colleagues, because she was afraid of their judgement. I would like to dedicate this column to her and all the artists who have been wronged. May we all be proud of our secret passions from now on.