“Call Me Maybe” is a catchy song. That doesn’t mean people aren’t justified in hating it. In fact, I understand the hate (I also think some people take pop music too seriously and are too hard it when it’s entire purpose is mass thoughtless consumption, which is why it’s so successful). But I like it. I have no shame in this.
For a while now, I’ve been moving past the idea of the guilty pleasure. What’s so wrong about openly admitting what we like? Everyone likes something outside of their usual standards or outside of what people think they “should” like. Why do people care so much? Thoughtful criticisms are one thing, especially if the content is problematic, but to actually put someone down because they like something and for no other reason is ridiculous. The songs I like have no bearing on anyone else’s life, and the fact that some people would ridicule me and try to make me feel embarrassed over a silly pop song is shallow.
Many of us are surrounded by people judging our tastes. Many blame society and the media, which is surely part of many problems, but this is one of those things I think is a problem on an individual basis. We’re too stuck on wanting people to be carbon copies of ourselves and convincing them that our tastes are perfect and everyone else’s are wrong. This is, essentially, criticizing us for who we are and making us ashamed of that.
This is somewhat related to my recent friend drama. As I’ve pulled away voluntarily, it’s made me an outsider looking in, to some extent–seeing the Facebook posts, the tweets, etc. I’ve known for a while some of those people were having very negative, damaging effects on me, but I’ve also realized the extent of that. Sometimes, my tastes and interests would be mocked. For the most part, it was only done to me, but the favoritism I noticed is another topic for another day. I saw something the other day that said true friends are people you can be yourself around. I’ve always agreed with that, but I never realized that at some point, I actually stopped having that. After all, if my true self was regularly made fun of, how could I fully, freely, and comfortably be me? Even if it meant something as simple as making fun of what I like.
Our likes and dislikes, to a degree, make us. They don’t dictate who we are, but they’re part of us. They’re what make us happy, inspire us, and help us to connect (or disconnect) with other people. Many of us will defend our favorite celebrities from attack, but we don’t consider we’re also then being forced to defend ourselves, in a way.
Criticizing other people’s tastes is a little selfish, isn’t it? We’re saying what we like is superior. If our music, movies, books, and clothes are better in our minds, aren’t we saying that we’re better for them? I believe some of these things can improve a person and help them to grow, but that doesn’t equal superiority. We’re saying, “You’re not as good as me because you like that musician instead of this one.” Humans love to undercut each other, and pop culture has just given us another way to do it that’s almost acceptable–in the form of the concept of the guilty pleasure.
We should be proud of what we like. Everything, even the worst-sounding song on the planet or the most poorly written book, has some sort of value, if only in that it makes someone happy or made the creator realize a dream. If we attack the dissenters with pride, we’ll win our own integrity.