There's No Guilt in Your Favorite Show

During my move to college, I kept a lot of my posters of various TV shows and anime at home. I didn’t bring them with me because I wasn’t sure how my roommate or others would react to my interests. In high school, the vast majority of the population couldn’t care less (while some occasionally mocked them). It wasn’t until later that I realized I would be fine. Everyone has those shows or other pieces of media that they would hate to have anyone know that they enjoy. But no one should have to hide their interests.

Urban Dictionary defines a guilty pleasure as a piece of media that you’re ashamed to admit that you enjoy. There are multiple reasons why a person might be ashamed to share their interests. They, like me, could be worried about how others might react - that they would be mocked for their interests. There’s also the possibility that they just think that they’re weird for liking the piece of media. All in all, it can be a bit complicated.

In my personal experience, there are two major forms of media that are often shoved aside by people who are ashamed to associate with it. The first is any form of media that’s just generally considered to be "bad" or "ridiculous." And bad can range anywhere from the movie The Room, with a Rotten Tomato score of 24%, to Iron Man 2, which had a score of 73% but still is considered to be “bad,” especially compared to other Marvel movies. Liking these movies can inspire the questions of “Why?” to which the person could have no answer. The second form of media is anything that can be considered to be made for kids. I will always have a love for Thomas and the Magic Railroad and no one can take that away from me.

Besides media, there are other interests that fall under the category of “guilty pleasure”, other definitions broaden it out. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines guilty pleasure as “something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt.” This expands to everything in which a person might find both enjoyment and shame. It includes activities that a person might be ashamed of because they don’t adhere to gender roles, such as a boy wearing makeup. The phrase “guilty pleasure” encapsulates the idea that people who find a certain thing enjoyable is wrong to do so. And that needs to change.

Life is hard. There are bills to pay, classes to take, loans to stress over, and the future to worry about. With all this happening, the last thing anyone should have to deal with is what they should or shouldn’t like.

Besides general happiness and security, there are other reasons that one should remove the guilt from “guilty pleasures.” For one, showing pride in your interests instead of hiding can introduce them to other people who might be interested in learning more about the subject. You could be the one to introduce your friend to their new favorite show or activity. A friend in middle school showed me the anime Hetalia: Axis Powers, which was a major factor in my interest in history and eventually choosing it as my major. One change of events here or a missed opportunity there and suddenly my life would have been heading in a totally different direction.

For those still feeling unsure, in the distance, glowing over the horizon, there is a beacon of hope. Over time, pieces of media that once belonged to small groups now start to populate the mainstream world. Many kids shows are still entirely aimed towards kids, but the likes of Steven Universe and Gravity Falls have become incredibly popular with adults as well. They show their love for these shows with pride at conventions and other such gatherings. With their strength in numbers, they don’t have to fear judgment for their interests. The moral of their story is to not lose faith in what you love today, it could be the next big hit of tomorrow.

Naturally, this anxiety won’t go away overnight. I can’t just ask you to stop being nervous about it and expect that to fix everything. But there's a certain power in realizing your fear is unfounded and trying to push through it. With the ever-rising popularity of once small groups of fans and the changes in what is considered unusual, the world is becoming a more open place for people to show off their interests. And if you’re mocked for your interests by your friends or the people around you, my only advice is to surround yourself with others who do support you and everything you do.

You deserve to be happy and secure in your interests.