“Guilty Pleasures” and Conscience-Inversion

Suite Precure - too true to be good?
Suite Precure – too true to be good?

A friend was recently telling me about how many review sites for the kind of anime we watch complain that they are “unrealistically good” or that the conflict between characters is based on misunderstandings and not “real conflict”. The latter remark was made in the case of Suite Precure.

Many of the same people refer to Magical Girl anime as a “guilty pleasure” because they see them as vacuous largely because they are “too good”, lack “real conflict” between the good people and operate in terms of good vs evil.

Now actually, as we try to show here, the values of the best magical girl anime are actually metaphysically quite deep. Much deeper than the average adult Western movie. Suite Precure, to take an example, has a theme of music. Music is metaphysically symbolic of the cosmic harmony, of which human harmony is one part. Therefore it is natural that the show should explore the themes of discord vs. harmony. And because (unlike post-modern culture of the Western petty-intelligentsia) its values are not inverted, it is naturally on the side of harmony.

To the inverted pop-Western sensibility, harmony and goodness are naïve and therefore enjoying anything insufficiently “dark” is a “guilty pleasure”.

Interestingly (although I do not claim to have read a lot of this kind of Western chatter), this is the only way I have ever heard the term “guilty pleasure” used. It appears to mean that something is “too decent”, and therefore the writer is ashamed of liking it.

As such “guilty pleasure” seems to be almost a technical term of conscience-inversion: that process by which modern Western pop-society makes people proud of their worst instincts and ashamed of their best ones.

I am interested to know, am I correct about this? Is this how the term “guilty pleasure” is generally used? Do pop a comment below!

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About Cure Tadashiku

Cure Tadashiku is the fairly-secret identity of authoress and space-alien Annalinde Matichei. Her powers are not listed so as not to spoil the surprise for the demons.

5 thoughts on ““Guilty Pleasures” and Conscience-Inversion

  1. I’m not sure! I’ve still heard it used in more of what I think the original spirit of the term was: a “pleasure” that one *should* properly feel guilty about, but far too often I see real guilt over liking things that are genuinely good. I try to encourage my friends along the path of liking those things without misplaced guilt, but it’s so hard for them to shake the impression their culture has given them that goodness is only for young children.

    To speak to the realism of conflict that only exists due to misunderstandings and is overcome by mutual goodwill, I can honestly say that in my life, most interpersonal conflict has been of this variety. In fact, I think that the other kind is very rare, if it even exists. Metaphysically speaking, our *only* separation from goodness can be seen as a great misunderstanding, can’t it?

  2. Using “guilty pleasure” to refer to things that are actually good for one’s soul does seem quite strange, doesn’t it? I don’t know why bad, nasty things are considered “deep”, and nice, pleasant things are “shallow.”

  3. I’m uncertain I can qualify as an expert on the thoughts of Tellurians, but I’ve lived with enough of them to know that this is indeed one of the ways the term “guilty pleasure” is used.

    It’s also sometimes used to denote such things as eating chocolate when one should be eating healthy, but I have heard it used in reference to such things as children’s shows, and I think this is because in Telluria — where the child is seen merely as a stage of development and growth — children’s subjects are seen as immature, unproductive, and unrealistic. In a society concerned with the constant warfare of their world, anything non-violent or pure is difficult to take seriously: “Why would you watch this kind of nonsense when people are dying in Israel?” One ludicrous, unspoken statement put to me personally, which stands out as a memoir for the Pit, was: “What right do you have to be happy when we’re all miserable?”

    Real life is seen as a mire of suffering and misery. People compete for money, land, sympathy and pity instead of actually looking for peaceful ways to resolve dark situations. Darkness is kept because in this world misery equals profit — anyone who believes otherwise is seen (unjustly) as an unproductive member of society and an economic liability unwilling to feed the machine of unhappiness. Innocent pastimes like watching magical girl anime is seen as silly when in fact its conducive to kindness, empathy, and understanding. So, these things — in this backwards society — are grimly viewed as guilty pleasures.

    Personally I could use more of these “guilty” pleasures! I think we all could!

  4. I have also seen “guilty pleasure” used to refer to a love of an incredibly bad movie that for some strange personally-resonant reason you’re very fond of. The general idea seems to be that liking something other people broadly decide is bad is…something you should be guilty for? My culture is really weird….

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