Embracing Our Guilty Pleasures

We are here on Wild Child Wednesday where the only rule is…ah scrap that.  No rules, just a freedom ride of open topics

Before getting back to my novel word count last night, I felt the urge to make a “guilty pleasure” playlist for my iPod.  It stretched beyond the three artists I was ashamed to admit I liked.  As I moved and shuffled files about, I considered what was spurring the “what would people think if they saw this list” vibes.  Was it the songs themselves or—on a higher level—the artists behind them?  What consists of a guilty pleasure?

Guilty pleasure:  Something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt.  Merriam-Webster

The other day, I was cruising along to Chipotle and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” came on.  Though a heightened cheese fest, I couldn’t help but smile and start bobbing my head.  Then I looked around and wondered if the people in the cars near me would know what song I was grooving to.  I mean, had they also flipped through stations and come across the song, but then switched because a) it was a waste of time and b) they were matured beyond having a kid inside that still likes a good party?  What?  You never have these thoughts???

I suppose the Iceman is a minimal guilty pleasure for me.  In the hip-hop community, most lost respect for him when it was revealed that his real upbringing was nothing close to the street life image he’d portrayed.  Since then, he’s wandered through multiple career “reinvention,” and I feel a bit sorry for him (as I did for Milli Vanilli) for the puppet element caricature he was forced to be.

Speaking of Milli Vanilli, I’ve got some of that to add to the queue as well as Hanson’s “MMMBop,” some MC Hammer and a slew of other catchy delights (or horrors depending on how you spin it).  Any other fun that I should dig up and include?

The next level of guilty pleasures for me would be the artists with criminal enterprises or drug habits.  For them, I wonder if my support is furthering their worlds or I feel like I’m sitting back and enjoying their work while they are spiraling down.  Amy Winehouse and El DeBarge are first to come to mind for this one.  Yes, I sang along to “Rehab” and loved the spunk of her defiant voice, but really listening to the lyrics, seeing the exploits in her life and now having her death makes me wonder if her fans failed her in some way.

Image source: Amazon.com

Ditto for El, who has a documented over 25 year battle with cocaine and crack.  I was first in line for his 2010 “Second Chance” album comeback.  I hoped his story of being clean was true.  Sadly, he relapsed soon after in early 2011 and there is no real certainty on his condition now.  While we love his voice and writing talents, are we as fans being unrealistic to expect a struggling, newly recovered addict to be able to handle the pressures and temptations that come along with being back in the spotlight of the music industry?

Higher up guilty pleasures would be artists that have spoken of and/or acted out violence towards women.  These are folks that my former 18-year-old feminist self would have spent hours debating about supporting.  Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, aforementioned El and Jay-Z (and countless other hip-hop artists) fall into this bucket.  I mean, Em envisioned one woman stuffed in a car trunk and going over a bridge to drown.  Another he threatened to tie to a bed with the house set on fire.  He’s wished death upon his ex-wife.  Yet we praise his story lines and powerful delivery.  *head in hands*

We’ve heard many a star—when sulking away from a scandal—cry out that they are an “artist” and not a “role model.”  Is that enough?  Can we excuse ourselves (and them) from the negative?  Such as Michael Jackson post the first molestation settlement.  Whitney Houston after the initial drug use innuendo.  Both were artists still revered in many circles for their old and new works.

I think of Rihanna being dinged in the media for the depiction of vigilantism in her “Man Down” video and by fans for bonding again with Chris Brown via Twitter, at her birthday party and now two recent musical collaborations.  And Chris himself, who is still rebounding from his assault on her three years ago, and was the brunt of several angry tirades for being allowed to perform again at the Grammy’s.

So this brings me to the following questions for you to weigh in:

With artists, do you separate their personal acts from their art? 

Are performers by default–and like it or not–role-models for the fans that support them? 

Who do you feel guilty for still liking?  Oh, you can tell me.

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16 Responses to Embracing Our Guilty Pleasures

  1. Great post! I totally be-bop to “Ice Ice Baby” when it comes on the radio.. how could I not? Not to mention it is part Queen, so that is my justification.

    My guilty pleasure is Madonna. I have loved her since I was 13 and will probably always love her.

    Have a great day!

    • Ah, great justification, Darlene! I’m going to use that one too. 🙂

      And Madonna is great. “Borderline” is still one of my all time faves from her and I was up and singing along during her Superbowl halftime show.

  2. I do separate the art from the artist because most of the time I’m so disappointed in who they are that I don’t enjoy their art after.
    Artists are human beings and we all have faults- some of us huge glaring pus filled faults, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing of value to offer the world.
    BTW- I see your Ice Ice Baby and raise you a Hammer Time and We Have the Right to Party

    • Ooo, a betting gal! Okay, Alica, I’ll accept your raise and counter with Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” and O-Town’s “Baby, I Would.” Heh, heh.

      I get the feeling of disappointment in some artists. Too many times now the image that is built up is a stack of toothpicks just waiting to fall.

  3. Alica, I love you. That sounds like the playlist on my car iPod on our way home today. My son and I were rocking the MC Hammer! Of course, whenever Vanilla comes on, we have to crank it, same with Tone Loc and any Beastie Boys.

    I think I do separate the artist from the art. I didn’t know any of those things about Eminem, but I still love him. As for role models? They aren’t for me. I pick my role models from other areas of life, so that’s not an issue for me. If others choose them as role models, then I hope they someday realize how unfair to themselves that is.

    • I loved MC Hammer too, Tameri. I remember going an MTV-sponsored concert where he and Paula Abdul were part of the bill. Talk about people with stamina to dance their whole shows. He was fantastic. I was also part of the group of kids who knew the Beastie Boys first album by heart.

      I try to separate the artist from the art, but do get squirmy when multiple anti-women sentiments are pushed. Some of it might be just for sport or to sell records versus what they really feel, not that that makes it better.

  4. asraidevin says:

    We just cleaned out our former CD tower and removed two shelves so it would accommodate DVDs and video games, because no one has purchased a CD in this house in almost 10 years. At the same time, we also needed to put music in the new truck. finding an absence of good NEW music, we started listening to this old stuff. Like Meredith Brooks, the ubiquitous compilation that were popular in the 90’s. my favourite will always be Now 2! IT’s been kinda nice to listen to all these “oldies”.

    Other guilty listening pleasures: Kesha, Barenaked Ladies (their kid’s album is my favorite of their CD’s actually), Aqua (barbie girl anyone?) and McFrontalot (acutally I feel no guilt about the last one, he’s just awesome).

    I loved watching Vanilla Ice flip houses. He’s actually pretty high end.

    • I’ve got to check out McFrontalot, Asrai. Not familiar with that one. I’m with you on not purchasing physical CDs anymore. I’ve got a tower still filled with tons of tapes from a long term music club membership. I’m still in the process of getting digital versions of them. I also love the Now music compilations. I’ve caught up on that series from the library.

  5. I am with Tameri – on her artists and her views. I do separate the artist from the art. I listen to the music I love because I love it. I leave my role models to people I know and trust. 🙂
    GREAT post Barbara!!

    • Thanks for your take, Natalie! Good point on role models needing to be people that are trusted. Deeming performers trained put on a good show as spokespeople or heroes is a practice destined to fail.

  6. I try not to learn about my favorite actors/artists’ personal lives because I don’t separate them. After the whole Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie thing, I stopped watching their movies. What bothers me isn’t so much that they make bad decisions, but they do so with arrogance, like just because they’re celebrities they can get away with it. And sadly, most of them do.

    • That’s where I’m torn too, Angela. I don’t want to judge, yet some things I learn just claw at me. Especially if it is a musician or actor that I’ve admired and then I learn they’ve cheated on their wife, had multiple DUIs, etc. The whole Brad, Angelina, Jennifer thing was way too messy. I’m not big on seeing any of their movies now.

  7. I’m with separation. Enjoy the talent and ignore the personal life.

  8. I gotta agree. Artists are human and with the amount of pressure they endure in the lime light I’m surprised there isn’t more bad media than there is. I know Milli Vanilli were puppets, but I still like “Blame It On the Rain” and “Girl You Know It’s True.” Same goes for Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.” (Don’t get to groove much to those, ’cause DH has control over the tunes most times. :P)

    I remember when I found out one of the lead actors in a prime time sitcom beat his wife/girlfriend. I loved his character, but when I found that out it really made watching the show disappointing. I kept thinking about what he’d done while watching him act goofy in the show. Sometimes I wish those things were never revealed.

    Still, I wonder, if we always hide the bad stuff people do in the proverbial closet, does that make us happier or just ignorant. Ignorance can’t change the world.

    So, yeah, I have my guilty pleasures, too. I try to offset those with some old-fashioned prayer and a bit of volunteerism like spreading the word on stopping abuse.

    • I love your practice of “offsetting” it, Virginia! I wonder too about the hiding of the bad stuff. I know old Hollywood was like that to a fault with fake relationships to hide people’s sexual orientations, elaborate stories to hid illegitimate children, etc. TMZ and other media outlets make that harder for stars now, but some of it still happens. That faking part irritates me too. There is an R&B singer who went through the staging of being married and then getting divorced. Problem was the reporters couldn’t find any record of the divorce filing. It then came out that she’d never been married. Her lying like that turned me off. I guess it is a no-win situation at times.

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