Guilty Pleasures
By Nick Quagliara of the Panoply Academy

In this era of post-modern overkill, it is difficult to be embarrassed about anything. I wasn’t embarrassed to write this article revealing my guilty pleasures. It seems like nowadays it is a badge to be worn, declaring that you too understand the tragically funny. How unhip would it be to not understand? Well, not at all really. It seems that youth culture has so embraced the notion that kitsch is cool, that it has lost meaning. Let’s face it, it has become cliché. Retro is not something for just the American subcultures. The Old Navy store at your mall is just as likely to embrace it and cash in. I don’t intend to dismiss kitsch altogether. I just don’t see how you could say playing Atari or owning a collection of He-Man cartoons are guilty pleasures. Maybe my guilty pleasure is hating Atari, which in my mind is rather boring. Maybe we need to redefine what kitsch is.

I think that kitsch describes something that is so ostentatiously bad that it becomes humorous. Maybe some things are horrid enough to be beyond the grip of camp, but this is doubtful. Even the mullet is kitsch these days. Come on already, it’s a god-awful hairstyle. Somehow the mullet has become enough of a pop icon to be worn proudly and at the same time mocked openly. I think we need to brainstorm here and find ways to thwart the post-modern whores. You are the ones that are ruining my childhood memories.

  1. Embrace things that are blatantly mundane. Watch a baseball as frequently as possible. Talk about old episodes of 60 Minutes. Listen to Top 40 music. Collect Beanie Babies.
  2. Find truly unique ways to express yourself. Stop referencing the immediate past. Find new ways to dress. Make music that is not reminiscent of anything.
  3. Explore outlets that are outdated or traditional, ones that have slipped through the cracks. Dress in Victorian garb. Throw a good old-fashioned barn raising party.
  4. Actively disavow pop iconography from the Twentieth century. Pretend the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties didn’t exist. Who am I kidding? The truth is that I also take part in referencing the past. I can’t help but smile when I see an old episode of Three’s Company or listen to the Purple Rain album for the thousandth time. I do have real guilty pleasures. I really enjoy slouching in front of the television watching a baseball game. I have been known to listen to Destiny’s Child in the privacy of my house. I still play Dungeons and Dragons at the age of 27. I like to drop political correctness when I am comfortable enough around someone to know that they won’t be offended and won’t think twice about what kind of person I am. These are real guilty pleasures. In all honesty, this doesn’t embarrass me. Wearing your favorite Strawberry Shortcake t-shirt, watching Sixteen Candles, or listening to Soft Cell just says, “yeah, I get it too.”




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