Was inspired by a recent post to think about guilty pleasures and, actually, this ties into a conversation I was having with my Mum today. I don’t know how we got onto the subject but I was on one of my favourite rants of the moment and that’s the culture of envy that seems so common in Western society today.
Lifestyle shows are my particular bugbear – although I love them, I hate the kind of lifestyle they promote. Take Grand Designs: everyone on that show (both the UK and Australian versions) is either an interior designer, an architect, some kind of CEO, or independently wealthy enough that their job titles are a joke (something ridiculous like professional poem-writer or something). Basically, the air is rarefied. They build these (multi) million-dollar houses, yet they’re portrayed as ‘ordinary’ families. They have money troubles too! You’re meant to feel for them when they have to downgrade their plans from a marble benchtop to a granite one. They talk about the ‘space’ and ‘light’ and stress over wallpaper flocking.
I don’t want to get into class warfare here and how people spend their money is their own business. What bugs me about these shows is how they present these homes, these lives, as aspirational. They present these families as ordinary, even though they are anything but. You finish the show with the distinct feeling like you’re failing at life because your benchtop is laminate, and feeling guilty that you don’t know what the difference between alabaster and ivory is.
TV chefs are another classic example of this. If I were to believe Nigella, Jamie, Heston and all the rest, I should be able to whip up ouefs en concotte (using organic, free-range eggs of course) every morning before work, grow my own carrots and lay out a 3-course spread (with my own homemade bread and butter) for the girlfriends I’m forever entertaining and do it all without breaking a sweat. Am I a friendless failure if I don’t entertain even once a month? If I can’t afford organic eggs this week does this mean I’m poorer than everyone else? If I don’t have the energy to cook when I get home after work, am I a failure as a woman and as a human being? I mean, according to Nigella, it’s just so easy.
And this gets me, rather belatedly, to my point. I don’t know about you but lives in lifestyle shows bear absolutely no resemblance to my personal life. Or the personal lives of anyone I know. And although we (I) know intellectually that’s ok, I still feel a little guilty that I don’t homemake all my bread and that our kitchen is about 20 years old. I feel like maybe I’m behind everyone else. Or, at least, I did. Until I really realised just how much bollocks it all is. And, even if it wasn’t, I just don’t care anymore. Because, everyone is the same boat – we’re all sitting at home feeling guilty about stuff that doesn’t matter and think we’re the only ones experiencing problems.
We all think we’re the only ones who are tired after work. Or the only ones who think Zoolander is funny (it is!). Or the only ones who have a weird family. Or the only ones who really, really like William Shatner’s spoken-word album (that’s my sister… and actually, she may be right on that score, hah!).
So, guilty pleasures? As the original poster quoted, there’s no need to feel guilty! Because we’re all as daggy as each other, in our own ways. Take me, for instance. My boyfriend once said that the only thing he worries about is the fact that I’ll run off with some pensioner, since my hobbies are usually the preserve of little old nannas. I really like preserving (canning). I enjoy crocheting. My idea of a well-spent Sunday is sitting in a dusty library looking at old parish records on microfiche and discovering a new branch to my family tree.
Other guilty pleasures:
- I like Star Trek.
- I would dress up at a Trekkie convention if I went to one. And enjoy it.
- I like Enya. And not just Orinoco Flow.
- If you spoke Elvish to me, I’d be impressed.
- I read non-fiction for pleasure.
- I watched Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Take Me Out – and loved them both.
- I was a huge New Kids on the Block fan when I was young… and if they toured Australia, I’d probably buy a ticket.
In a startling display of synchronicity, a friend of mine has declared November to be Noguiltvember, to air all the daggy music you just love. I think it’s a brilliant idea but lets take it broader and show the world that we’re all the same: there’s a dag inside all of us!