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Why I Stopped Using the Phrase “Guilty Pleasure”

Poster for Uwe Boll's House of the Dead

Guilty pleasure. It’s a phrase that is commonly used by horror fans to explain away our reasoning for liking a film that we think we shouldn’t. But I’m starting to think that–especially in the horror world–this phrase is entirely unnecessary and that we should just do away with it for good. Guilt is the last thing we should feel about something we like or love, if we should even feel it at all. To use this phrase only further separates ourselves from the mainstream, and from each other as fellow fans. Therefore, I have vowed to stop using the phrase “guilty pleasure” all together, and I hope I can convince some of you to do the same.

There are certain things that you should maybe feel guilty about, like lying to your mom, or stealing a pack of gum from a convenience store. However, you should not feel guilty about liking something, especially a movie. Movies are entertainment, and entertainment is subjective. Plain and simple. Everyone has their own opinion on what is a good movie or what is a bad movie, and the truth is that everybody is right. If someone says that they hold the opinion that The Shining is a terrible, boring film, and House of the Dead is the greatest movie ever, that person is right, no matter how much you may disagree. It sounds cliché, but it’s true: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we should all remember that.

Uwe Boll's House of the Dead is usually called one of the worst movies of all time.

That’s why I always hate it when others criticize a person for their opinion on a movie by saying that he or she is “wrong.” When I gave one movie a pretty positive review, one commenter told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and basically told me I was stupid and wrong. For a second after reading that, I was truly hurt and wondered if I should reconsider my opinion. If someone was passionate enough for the opposite side of my argument to say something like that to me, was my taste in movies really that bad? Was I wrong? Of course not. We bring about the same kind of feelings as these when we try to assuage our supposed “guilt” about our opinions when we call a movie a guilty pleasure. Only instead, we are the ones causing those bad feelings in ourselves–and really, how stupid is that?

I have watched (and in some cases, been forced to watch) so many supposedly “bad” movies that I’ve really enjoyed, that I start to feel like a snob for calling them “so bad they’re good.” I feel guilty about using the phrase guilty pleasure! Because what it really comes down to is your personal enjoyment of a certain movie, and anybody else’s opinion shouldn’t, and doesn’t, matter. If you have a great time watching a film because you like the kill scenes or special effects, or you relate to the story or the characters, or just because you thought it was ridiculously funny, then that’s great! Embrace it and own it.

Joshua Jackson strangely decides to hurt himself with a camera light in the Shutter remake.Maybe I’ve already hit that age where I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks anymore. And I hope everybody gets to that stage, sooner rather than later, because it really is such a relief for your psyche. Nothing is better than that feeling of power when you stand up for yourself and the things that mean something to you. I now have no problem saying that Turistas is one of my absolute favorite movies to put on when I’m home alone and just wanted to chill with a cool movie. That I have watched the American remake of Shutter many more times than I have watched Dawn of the Dead. That I completely dig Mirrors. So all I am asking of my fellow horror fans out there is to know what you love and don’t be afraid to express it–and never, ever feel guilty about it.

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Written by Michele Eggen
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Michele Eggen has been writing about all things horror at her blog, The Girl Who Loves Horror, since 2010. She loves anything having to do with ghosts or the supernatural realm. Her favorite films are Poltergeist and Child's Play.
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