Does the term "guilty pleasure" still have meaning?

With the increasingly mainstream status of geek culture and the rise in popularity and awareness of art forms previously conceived of as low culture (comic books, melodrama, erotic fiction), do we need to re-evaluate how we use the term “guilty pleasure”? Guilt tends to be attached to activities we wouldn’t want widely known because they’re assumed to somehow be beyond the realm of good behavior. Can these pleasures be sources of guilt, therefore, if they gain mass popularity?

What types of films/TV shows/ books tend to be described as guilty pleasures? Look at what types of works tend to be labeled guilty pleasures to identify common tropes, genres, story types, etc. and track the history of public attitudes toward them to try and determine why they would be considered guilty pleasures and if those attitudes are changing.

  • In my estimation, the concept of a "Guilty Pleasure" should no longer apply. Of course it could be argued that it never "should" have applied, but now, in an era of rampant de-stigmatization, we should be able to move beyond these deep seeded feelings of guilt and dread. Consider this: "The Golden Girls" is (in my opinion) one of the most intelligent and hilarious shows ever to hit the silver screen; I've spent many a lazy Sunday marathoning the antics of Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy. And for as long as I have watched it I've considered it my biggest guilty pleasure. Why? Because the Golden Girls is typically something that is associated with middle aged women and er..."flamboyant" men (not necessarily an unfair assumption - Liberace did spend his last days watching it). But that's all changed now, or at least it ought to have. This is a brave new world, brimming with brave new attitudes. I could dress in sequinned tuxedos, wear chromed cuban heeled shoes, and spend my days talking all about how amazing TGG is, and I wouldn't be thought a complete looney. I might actually make some friends. This concept of the guilty pleasure is now in decline, and we are here to witness the death rattle. It used to be the case that enjoying something that the majority didn't like was considered a guilty pleasure (the religious right usually helped dictate this). But as time has progressed, the religious right has lost it's power and we're about ready to move on. The point I'm trying to make is this: as we become more open and accepting, opinions begin to change and become more of a fluid thing - guilt is beginning to wane and it is a glorious thing. – hunterB31 7 years ago
  • I think the term "guilty pleasure" still holds meaning, primarily because the concept of guilt still holds meaning. Guilty pleasures are actions that you know you shouldn't do, and yet still do them (and therefore not necessarily restricted to the Film category or whatever). For example, many people (myself included) would agree that Facebook and 9gag are prime examples of guilty pleasures, especially when studying for an important final exam. So although society has changed regarding what causes guilt for people, my point is that there will always be *something* that causes guilt. And there will always be something pleasurable about giving in to that temptation... – yuany4 7 years ago

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