What’s your “guilty pleasure” TV show or movie? More importantly, why is it a “guilty” pleasure? Odds are pretty darn good it’s not hurting anyone for you to plop down and watch it. So long as you balance your diet, enjoy what you enjoy.
That’s been easy for me to say when friends “confess” that they enjoy Desperate Housewives, or The Bachelor (and always with this look of: oh no, he’s going to judge me from his Werner Herzog lovin’ pedestal).
Well, I’m here today to come out the media room to you all. I have PLENTY of stuff I watch that I hide from people, and in the spirit of unraveling this misguided notion of feeling a sense of guilt for enjoying a thing that makes you laugh, relax, or even enjoy a cheap cry, I’m going to provide you a list of 5 TV Shows and Movies in my Netflix queue and Amazon Library that I have always done my best to hide from dates.
I’ll start with Netflix because that’s… well it’s lower stakes. Even if it shows up on your “Recently Watched” queue, you can always fib and say you just started it and shut it off after a few minutes. My Amazon Library- I’m not talking about Prime- I’m talking about: I went onto Amazon dot com, searched for this thing, selected the thing in HD, clicked to buy the thing, then clicked again to confirm buying the thing. That is the depth of pathos and dedication I’m owning up to on these, friends.
::Takes a deep breath::
5) Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II
Why It’s Shame Evoking: Well, for one thing, this is the cover that you see on the homepage:
Then, of course, it’s named Nymphomaniac. It gets pretty uncomfortable without much being said except for someone noticing it and just saying the name really slowly, “Nymphomaniac…”
That’s what you think they’d say, but in reality:
Yeah, I’m diving right the hell on in. Lars Von Trier is known for going to dark places with his films (typically exploring the real depths of depravity for concepts we cheapen with our casual overuse, see: Anti-Christ). What a pair of films. This is a brutal story of a woman obsessed with sex and with an insatiable libido, whose life is dictated by her pursuit of it, her fear of love and commitment and all the ways this destroys her relationships and eventually her personally.
It’s got sexy parts, sure- but the sex is very often extremely awkward and human, and a few times juxtaposed with outright grime, cruelty, and horror. It’s shocking, it’s cringe-inducing, I still can’t keep my eyes on the screen for a half dozen or so scenes, but that’s the damn point.
A masterpiece of filmmaking? Absolutely. But also, a total mood killer.
4) Boss Baby
Why It’s Shame Evoking: ‘Good Lord, have you seriously watched that? I can’t believe what Alex Baldwin is doing for paychecks, it looked so dumb.”
Have you all heard? People think Boss Baby is a not good movie. It got an Oscar nomination that it’s going to lose to Coco, but still, it’s a not good movie, and the Academy is silly. Have you watched it though?
Listen, I’m not saying it’s great. I’m not saying I watched it more than once, but I did watch it to see what all the hate is about, and it’s currently sitting on my “Recently Watched” queue. I’ve had to explain it a handful of times already, but I don’t get it.
First off, most peoples’ first criticism is that it seems silly- well, it’s a kids movie. But then they counter than the baby makes a Glengarry Glenn Ross reference- and Genie in Aladdin made a Jack Nicholson reference. Good kids’ movies put something in there for parents if it doesn’t detract from the kids’ experience.
It has a fun premise, amazingly solid visuals, and is something parents can go home after watching with an extra reason to tell their kids that they love them more than anything else. What’s so bad about that?
3) Kill La Kill
Why It’s Shame Evoking: ‘Didn’t realize you were into softcore hentai.’
This is always a tough one, because first off, anime carries more than a few stigmas with it, and on its surface, Kill La Kill wears those stigmas in just about every shot.
It’s a tough line to walk to satirize the tropes of anime stigma without succumbing to them, and Kill La Kill is a study in going to the extreme with every aspect of anime cliche. There are gratuitous costumes, over the top fight scenes, and the best anime cliche of all: it all takes place in a high school with students who have a global dynastic sense of self-importance.
I won’t spoil it too much (there’s your warning), but the plot ends up involving aliens and actual global takeover. It seems to me that it’s looking at its own genre and saying: if you’re going to have characters dressing like this, there has to be a reason (and there is a reason), and if they’re going to behave and act like this, there has to be a reason (and there is a reason), even if that reason is completely bonkers.
But what’s on my queue? A scantily clad anime girl with a red sword I try to flip past rather than going into any of the above.
2) Breaking Bad
Why It’s Shame Evoking: ‘Dude, why are there two?’ and later ‘oh the SD version was too rough for your precious HD TV owning eyes? Boo hoo.”
This is a great show, I’m not apologizing for owning it even though it’s all on Netflix. I bought it because it was the final season airing and I didn’t have cable at the time, so rather than subscribe, I bought the season pass on Amazon.
However, this is the rub. You notice there are two up there? I always have to explain why I own two and the simple, dumb reason is that I accidentally bought the SD version first, found it woefully grainy and paid a second time for the HD version.
Do I feel bad owning this show? Not at all. I feel dumb buying the wrong version, but it really was distractingly grainy. There’s a lot of subtle and masterful acting to be enjoyed in this, and the HD version really makes a difference in catching those subtleties.
1) Batman Forever
Why It’s Shame Evoking: It’s two-fold, for one: ‘why do you own so many Batman movies?’ and ‘why the hell do you own one of the worst Batman movies? Are you some closet fanboy?’
I own 106 movies in my Amazon library. 10 of those are Batman movies (3 of them animated). It’s easier to point out the one’s I’m missing from the live action features: Batman (1989), Batman & Robin, and the Adam West Batman. I really like Batman. I could probably write a whole other article on that alone, but that’s my point: I shouldn’t be ashamed of genuinely liking a character and mythos that speaks to, motivates and lifts me up emotionally.
Then again, I’m also under the lens for liking it so much that I even tolerate what many consider the second worst Batman film ever made. Yes, I paid money for Batman Forever. Hindsight being 20/20, you could see the fever setting in on this run of Batlore. Keaton and Burton had both departed for greener pastures, and the franchise had been handed over to Joel Schumacher. While this isn’t the atrocity Batman & Robin was, but people certainly lump it in as a the prologue to that mess.
However, this is a Batman story that hadn’t been done in film before, and hasn’t been done since. Everyone knows how and why Bruce Wayne started as Batman- parents murdered, oath, etc. However, what about why Bruce Wayne keeps going? Most of us barely keep up with the gym past a month of our New Year’s Resolutions, and Bruce Wayne is just expected to keep up living full throttle as the Batman without a reaffirmation or questioning the point of it for decades?
I recommend giving this one another look. Jim Carrey’s take on the Riddler isn’t as bad as you might think: Nigma is supposed to be an arrogant bombast who wants to go toe to toe with Batman intellectually, and Carrey puts all that hubris on raw display.
Okay fine, I’ll admit: Nicole Kidman in this role was my first crush as a little kid.
Listen, I don’t just watch Batman because I’m a geek, I watch Batman because I aspire to that level of commitment to the things that matter to me. Those things are not beating up thugs, or wearing questionably gimplike costumes around town, but seeing a character who devotes years of his life and every aspect of his life to being the best he can for that job? I’m not making any excuses for it.
And you shouldn’t either.
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