Thursday, September 27, 2007

So bad it's good

A while back, Will Baude blogged about his book addiction (and now the link to that post is kaput). 'Book addiction' struck me as silly at the time, and it still does. Far sillier but along the same lines is piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about academics' "guilty pleasures." Both Sean Carroll and Jacob Levy see the results as proof that academics are geeky. While I'd be the first to admit that academia is not the racy world of Philip Roth's imagination, who considers bike riding a "guilty" pleasure? Studying languages? What else, reading more papers in one's field than absolutely necessary? Tutoring underprivileged youth? Consumption of fair trade chocolate and red wine in moderate, sensible amounts?

One of the comments to Carroll's post gets it right: "What this poll shows is just that academics need to be very careful about their public images." Now it's probably true that academics are not confessing to heavy drug use because they tend not to be heavy drug users. But really. Does no one read Gawker? Browse the racks at H&M (or, if male, the aisles at Circuit City)? These are guilty pleasures, though ones I know nothing about.

Confessing to a guilty pleasure does not mean declaring that you spend most of your free time doing that activity, just that, of what you do in your free time, you consider this activity the least consistent with the image you wish to present to the outside world/how you see yourself. For example, Hebrew conversation class Tuesday nights, not guilty; 'Gossip Girl' last night, guilty.


Miss Self-Important said...

Gossip Girl, definitely guilty. And also, sadly, not that good. Back when my guilty pleasures were Buffy and Veronica Mars, at least I could mount a pseudo-intellectual defense of them when pressed. (Also my point remains: "See you in school on Monday" does not equal scenes of actual school.)

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Didn't you see the preview of what's to come in the next episode? There's going to be a catfight at a field hockey match. Extracurricular, but it's a start.

Anonymous said...

Gossip girls totally stinko.

Battlestar Galactica--totally awesome.