Owning up to a guilty pleasure is a performance of confession to cultural sin, but the sinner seeks benefits other than absolution. Calling the pleasure guilty validates participation in the ritual of taste; now liking something bad doesn’t indicate failure to recognize criteria of quality and social acceptability but affirms them. Advertising a guilty pleasure can be a way flaunting status, as only those already in possession of cultural capital can risk some on a guilty pleasure. And tagging pleasure guilty—or even shameful—can be a means of safely entertaining a fantasy of transgression of cultural values and norms. I think this last benefit in particular is what I’m getting from telling you how much I like Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)”, a breathy snap rap oozing virility and masculine pride. The song is without subtlety, but the video by Little X is comparatively polite--seriously--as it substitutes Champagne moneyshots and porny moans for the censored “dick” of the song’s chorus (“wait till you see my...”) and omits all mentions of “bitch” as well. My whiteness, my allegiance to feminism and other progressive causes, my identities of professor and husband and father and middle-class suburban homeowner, and my sense of decorum, all make my affection for this music seem like the sort of thing I ought to keep to myself. (“You really want to do that?” was my wife’s response when I told her I was writing this.) But here I am telling you about it, owning my pleasure, and admitting that much as I admire the economy of style and innuendo in the video, with its restrained color palette, mysterious grins, and extreme close-ups of whispering lips, I like the raunch and bravado of the uncensored CD version even more.
I was struck by your wife's
I was struck by your wife's reaction to your choice of guilty pleasure because it was similar to my husband's (his was more of a "Don't write about that.") I wonder to what extent the guilt, or at least our reaction to that guilty pleasure, is shaped by those around us, particularly those whose opinions we value.
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