Summertime is traditionally not the greatest time of year for television. Every once in a while a surprise summer sensation sneaks under the radar and completely enthralls the public (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Survivor). This year was no exception, as the summer of 2010 will be remembered as the year that brought the return of that great piece of cinematic art: Wipeout. Okay, so Wipeout is not really art, nor is it even cinema. But it sure is a piece of something!
Network advertisements were touting Wipeout as TV's guiltiest pleasure. Am I the only one that sees something wrong with that statement? Generally speaking, a guilty pleasure would be perceived as a show or a film that one would be ashamed to let others know that he/she likes it, thus, feeling guilty finding pleasure in it. By self proclaiming your show as a guilty pleasure, it goes against the very nature of the definition. No one is supposed to know that you watch it!
This makes me believe the guilty pleasure is dead, or at least incredibly difficult to define in the post ironic 90s era and self reflexive world of popular culture we now live in. Case in point: the hysterical popularity of the current 'it' show, Glee. Years ago, a show like this would be the very definition of a guilty pleasure. The unabashed optimism of this karaoke–fest would be too upbeat for cynical hipsters to enjoy, or at least admit they enjoy. This is simply not the case with Glee. Everyone is on the Glee bandwagon -– and lets you know it! Young, old, the cool, and the uncool. The Gleeks, as they refer to themselves, are loud and proud, so we should get used to them.
Why aren't people ashamed to like Glee? The acid-tongued character of Sue Sylvester and her hilarious quips, I have to admit, is pretty cool. Perhaps viewers are inspired by the messages of accepting yourself, being true to oneself, and celebrating diversity that the show preaches. Or maybe, the very fact that Glee is kind of cheesy is the exact reason people love it. Audiences are so "in the know" now. Knowing that something is bad, or silly, or weird, or goofy, and liking it for that very reason is very empowering. Gleeks are empowered by making fun of themselves so now the rest of the world can't do it.
Having the power removes the guilt. And all that's left is pleasure! If this is the case, then I have a confession to make: My name is Mike Walkey and I am a Gleek.
Ah... so that's why you joined me to see Sex and the City 2.