Guilty Displeasures: 10 Things You’re NOT Allowed to Dislike
About two years ago, Saturday Night Live did a taped piece about a group of austere agents hunting down any rogue person who doesn’t conform to worship Beyoncé, the “Queen B” – or is it “Queen Bee” or even “Queen Bey?”
Spelling aside, SNL’s sketch demonstrates the ubiquity of Beyoncé’s influence and the high esteem in which all people are meant to regard her. Extreme exultations spread across social media and peer groups whenever Beyoncé drops new material or asserts her authority as the queen. Casting doubt or scorn on Beyoncé worship is… socially dangerous.
You will not catch me (publicly) saying anything negative about Beyoncé. I don’t want any of the men or women of my life to see me as a renegade. But isn’t it sort of odd that there are some things in our popular culture that are expected to be unanimously beloved? Those who don’t personally care for Beyoncé’s music (or even her public image) find themselves with the opposite of a guilty pleasure – instead of something they like that they’re not supposed to, they dislike something that they’re supposed to love.
Here’s a look at a few guilty displeasures – entities in pop culture that you’re NOT ALLOWED to dislike.
The fans: The BeyHive
The love: Beyoncé performed in the 2013 Super Bowl – the BeyHive tells the legend that her energy was so (Sasha)fierce, she caused a power surge that blacked out the lights in the Superdome in New Orleans. She came back in 2016 for another Super Bowl where she performed a song she had only released that weekend. As Sarah Silverman put it, “Can anyone else in the history of the world release a song and the same day sing it at the motherfucking Super Bowl & we all know the words?”
If you admit your guilty displeasure: Your Twitter feed is now jammed up with people mentioning you (and Piers Morgan) and saying you are a hater. Admitting you don’t worship Beyoncé is so socially dangerous that it might keep you out of friend groups, college fraternities/sororities, and bank loans.
Game of Thrones
The fans: Raging Throners
The love: There are really two breeds of “Game of Thrones” fans. There are people obsessed with the HBO drama, and then there are the super-fans who have read George R.R. Martin’s books from the “Song of Ice and Fire” series. Fans of the show are likely to say that it’s the best thing on TV, and quote lines ad nauseum (“Hodor!” “You know nothing!” “The North remembers!”). Fans of the book, meanwhile, are like literary vegans – you’ll know who they are, because they can’t stop talking about it. Both groups of fans, meanwhile, have been known to spend a lot on crazy cosplay, plan themed weddings, and name their dogs after characters from the show (ahem, ahem).
If you admit your guilty displeasure: Prepare for a lot of people to tell you that GoT (oh yeah, the o had better be lower-case) is “the best show ever – even better than ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Wire.’” You’ll probably be told a lot of information about how good it gets once you’re into it, followed by a bunch of information about dragon husbandry and a bunch of fantasy names – Cersei, Tyrion, Tormund, Arya, Theon, Daenerys, Varys, Podrick… and those are just a few of the main characters.
Your City’s Favorite Food
The fans: In Cincinnati, it’s chili. In Philadelphia, it’s cheesesteaks. In New Orleans, it’s po’boys. In Chicago, it’s deep dish pizza. In Kansas City, it’s barbecue. On the West Coast, it’s In-N-Out Burger.
The love: Once a city or region is known for a particular cuisine, there are usually a whole bunch of signs declaring the city “The _____ Capitol of the World.” People will stand in hours-long lines for the go-to food, and tourism campaigns even invoke food to lure people in for the culinary opportunities. Transplants to another city often miss the prevalence of their favorite meal.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: You’ll immediately be asked where you grew up. “Are you not from around here?” Then natives will start listing restaurants you have to try to really appreciate the food. “Oh, you just don’t chili because you’ve only had Goldstar Chili – you have to try Skyline chili instead!” You’re going to have to defend your own subjectivity.
Your City’s Sports
The fans: There are 42 U.S. cities that have at least one major league sports football/basketball/baseball/hockey team.
The love: Taxpayers build stadiums to hold upwards of 50,000 people wearing team colors, face paint, jerseys, letters painted on their naked chests. Thousands more congregate in living rooms and bars to watch sporting events. The performance of a few in-shape millionaires transcends reason to somehow speak for the quality of an entire city. So, damn it, you’d better be in line and root for those millionaires when they play against some other city’s millionaires.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: Your commitment to your home region will be called into question. And you will not be invited to sports bars or house parties to watch games. Even if you don’t love your city’s sports, you gotta be tempted by the food eaten while watching sports – they have wings!
The fans: 90’s Babies
The love: 90’s nostalgia is so strong, it has become its own cottage industry. Beanie Babies may be worthless and Nintendo 64 may be obsolete, but you can still find people selling them online. Bars hold 90’s nights where you can party like it’s 1999 (or the preceding 9 years). TV networks like Disney run marathons of their programming from that decade. Here’s a shortened list of things that have been rebooted since the 90’s: Full House, Magic School Bus, Twin Peaks, X-Files, Hey Arnold, Rush Hour, The Powerpuff Girls, Power Rangers, Point Break, Surge soda… you get the idea. And damn it, you had better be excited that the Back Street Boys are performing at an arena near you soon.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: Doesn’t matter if you admit you’re not a huge fan of the 90’s – your coworker is going to keep quoting “Ace Ventura” and “Billy Madison” either way.
The fans: Baconators
The love: This one is weird. People are very passionate about bacon. Forget about just putting bacon on your order in a restaurant. There are t-shirts. There are festivals. There’s cologne, soda, toothpaste, vodka, massage oil, sunscreen, beer, coffee, and condoms… all manufactured to look and/or smell and/or taste like bacon. Bacon is a culture of its own. Its seeming ubiquity may stem from the Atkins diet craze, and even has vegans enjoying their own vegan bacon. There may be no other food that inspires this much passion.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: You’ll be treated as if something is wrong with you. You might as well tell people you hate life, because that’s what bacon is to some people. Simply saying “I don’t care for bacon” will mean that your friends suspect you’re secretly a vegetarian or keep a kosher diet. L’Chaim!
The fans: Dog People
The love: Puppies are adorable. There’s science to prove why puppies are considered the very cutest of the cute. Once someone adopts a new puppy, strangers suddenly want to squeeze it and hug it. When people think of their “happy place,” it usually involves roaming puppies, clumsily falling over and playing fetch. Don’t believe me that puppies are widely loved? Open Instagram and search for the hashtag #puppiesofinstagram. Some dogs have over 250,000 followers, and make upwards of $3,000 per sponsored post. Puppies are the most lovable creatures in existence – and that’s why they’re universally loved.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: You’re labeled either a psychopath or, worse, a Cat Person. Don’t bother with your “allergies” argument – science is no excuse.
Recently Deceased Celebrities
The fans: Everyone on social media
The love: Mourning a famous person can be hard. Consumers of pop culture feel connected to influential actors, musicians, directors, and other artists in the spotlight. The death of a public figure can feel like a personal loss. And often, that grief is expressed in a days-long deluge of tributes on social media. David Bowie died, and “Space Oddity” was embedded on everyone’s timeline. Prince passed away, and suddenly it seemed like everyone had forever been changed by going to Prince shows. After Robin Williams’ death, pictures of Aladdin’s genie were shared with forced profundity. Severus Snape quotes were quickly Googled and copy/pasted into Facebook statuses following the passing of Alan Rickman. There’s no one more universally beloved by a celebrity gone too soon, whose work suddenly finds new popularity.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: You really want to talk about how you didn’t care for David Bowie music? Didn’t like “Aladdin 3?” Never ever ever do this. You must never speak of this. Not only is it insensitive, but it just proves you’re a terrible human being.
The fans: Proudly no-nickname sort. Star Warriors? Warheads? Nah. Just Star Wars Nerds.
The love: I believe this has been covered. The worldwide love of Star Wars will be on full display for the rest of our lives, thanks to Disney’s aggressive production schedule plans. So prepare for even more of the apparel and household items you buy to be Star Wars-branded.
If you admit your guilty displeasure: If you tell your boyfriend that he can’t keep his collection of Star Wars merch when you move in together… good luck.
The fans: 80% of women who love wine and drama and 70% of their significant others.
The love: Kerry Washington is fierce and is a force
If you admit your guilty displeasure: (From our founder Tristan) “Ok, admittedly I have never seen Scandal. But I do know that women, like my girlfriend, get in a fervor about this show. Seeing as how I know absolutely nothing about the show itself, I’m just going to take a blind guess in the assumption that Scandal is all about super fierce, independent women who kick ass and drink lots of wine. Oh and I’m guessing there’s some kind of sexual tension, and more fierceness, and Kerry Washington and yeahhhhh SCANDAL.”