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The MamaPop Roundtable: Guilty Pleasures

Monty-python-holy-grail Nee! And Huzzah! And That rabbit's dynamite! And welcome to this week's MamaPop Roundtable, where the MamaPop writers answer enmass a single challenging, thought-provoking, or otherwise engaging question. We then ask that you, the reader, contribute your response to the same question in comments.

We invite readers to submit questions for the MamaPop writers to answer, and if we pick your question you will be handsomely rewarded with PDA and linkage. Please send your Roundtable questions to: roundtable@mamapop.com

This week's Roundtable question is [drumroll]:

Q: Pick a pop culture artifact you love (book, movie, band/album, tv show, whatever) that's considered by most to be either a guilty pleasure or just plain bad, and explain why you believe it is, in fact, *totally awesome.*

Jodi: I love, love, love bad TV.  Like really bad TV.  Gossip Girl, The OC, General Hospital, Tori and Dean, the new 90210, I'm even exited for the new Melrose Place.  I'm devastated Privileged got canceled.  Show me a bad Lifetime Movie Network movie and I'm sure I've seen it.  I use to have the TV on 24 hours a day but I stopped that when I had my son, because I'm also a hypocrite because I don't let him watch that much TV and I don't watch any adult TV around him.  Which means DVR is always totally backed up.

Sometimes you need to escape from the stress of every day life.  My job is stressful.  And then I was diagnosed with 4 auto immune illnesses.  I don't want the seriousness of 24 or House.  I want fluff and stupidity.  Give me the Legally Blonde The Musical reality show.  Yes I totally watched that.

BHJ: OK I apologize in advance but, for a particular purpose, I love Limp Bizkit. See. I'm a runner. And if I'm gonna kick out 10 miles, I don't need what people usually call "good". I just need some cock rock and Limp Bizkit is essentially audio testosterone. "Break Stuff" makes me run faster. Sue me. And that one where he keeps muttering "Now I know why you wanna hate me" until he explodes into ball swelling awesomeness. My running nano is full of the LB, kid. Break it off, Lethal.

I'm not certain why this why was so difficult for me. I couldn't think of something that I like that is just embarrassing and I assure you it isn't because I am secretly cool. I kust kept coming up with things that were popular that I hated instead. Maybe that should be next weeks question. I could write a dissertation on that.

Then it hit me. I love "The Capeman".

You know, Paul Simon's Broadway show, "The Capeman". Well, I've never actually seen the show, so I guess it would be more accurate to say that I like the "Songs From the Capeman"?


It is a musical about Salvador Argon, a Puerto Rican kid that killed two white kids in 1959 in New York. Also he wore a cape - hence the name.

Yeah, stupid plot, but the music is amazing... salsa, doo wop and it features singers like Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony, Ednita Nazario, Frank Negron and Paul Simon himself.

When it ran on Broadway it lost $11 million.

Apparently I am not the only one who didn't see it.

Tracey: Electric Light Orchestra, aka ELO.

Now hold on a second, I know what you're thinking: "Oh you mean ELO, whose songs have been recently featured in Charlie Kaufman movies and things of that ilk? YOU FAIL AT GUILTY PLEASURE CONFESSING, HIPSTER SCUMBAG!"

But please allow me to explain. You see, I don't mean that I kind of like that "Mr. Blue Sky" song that's been used in recent years to market any number of movies (which I kind of resent at this point to be perfectly honest), or that I take some kind of detached, ironic enjoyment in the band's earnest 70s symphonic synth stylings (see: Xanadu). Oh no. Not at all. I mean I know every single song on every album they ever put out by heart. I can sing along perfectly, word for word, matching Jeff Lynne's intonation and pitch precisely on songs from Face The Music, Eldorado, A New World Record, Out Of The Blue, Time, Discovery... And yes, I genuinely love them, no irony. No, wait, not just love, ADORE. Growing up my Dad was really into ELO, so over time their music just sort of organically became the backdrop to all my biggest childhood memories. (Well, that and Neil Diamond, who I also love, but not with anywhere near the same fervor). But regardless of the nostalgia factor, to me there's still something truly fantastic and original about ELO -- the grand ambition of the music, the baroque Rock Opera-ness of it all, coupled with intimate and personal lyrics that are almost diametrically opposed to the music's epic sweep. I love that contradiction. Oh and also? Their songs make me want to get on up and git down:

This is tough, as my taste is renowned for being exquisite.  However, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Disney, which some (hipster, I'm looking at you) deem uncool.  I even have a Mickey Mouse tattoo located in such a place that to see it you would also have to see me naked.  Needless to say, it's very popular.

My boys have been to Disneyland so often that they have Cinderella on speed dial - top 5 yo, PLAYAS!

Seriously though, I love it.  My wife loves it.  My kids love it.  And what's more, Disney loves us.  You should see them smile when we walk into the park. 

I own the original Fast & the Furious movie on DVD. I paid full-price cash money for it on purpose, just like I also paid for a ticket to see it in the theater. Vin Diesel says, at one point, his voice dripping with angst and probably daddy issues (I don't remember his character's motivation, I just remember a lot of glaring and cars going vroom a lot), that he lives life a quarter-mile at a time. Fucking word, dude. And FUCKING AWESOME.

Jenn: These are really bad, lots of guilt. First, my near obsession with most shows the WB/CW has churned out. Including: Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars (I still stand by this being one of the best shows ever to broadcast on TV, though), Gilmore Girls, and on and on. Not just a regular watcher, but an uber-fan, especially of VM and OTH. As in, I may or may not have glanced at a fan video on YouTube once or 87 times.

I watched every season of Laguna Beach and The Hills.

Also, and this is the worst of it, I owned (and liked and played on repeat) Ashlee Simpson's first CD, "Pieces of Me." I could probably whip out a few more examples of guilty pleasures, but when you say the words Ashlee Simpson and liked in the same sentence, people most likely just stop paying attention, am I right? So, I'll end with that.

Kelly: Armageddon. I have seen this movie countless times. It's a cable/HBO mainstay and pretty much any time it's on, I watch it. It's a terrible movie, no doubt, and is one of those really good examples of everything that is wrong with America and its cinema. But it's so over the top that I can't help but love it. The Bruce Willis, his overly emotional relationship with Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler's quivering bottom lip, Billy Bob Thornton, the way they worked an American flag into every single shot, the horrendous Aerosmith song, the whole, "We're America! We'll save the world. Everyone just chill out, we got this...WITH OIL!" It's just a gigantic Republican orgy and I LOVE IT.

Michael Bay's masterpiece, Armageddon. It's loud, ridiculous (did you know that we not only have one, but TWO! TWO! Secret Military Space Shuttles Made Of Titanium...and they come equipped with Heavily Armed Space Tanks that just happen to be fitted with massive drills! ), poorly scripted, overacted, and stars Bruce Willis and his hairpiece AND Ben Affleck AND Billy Bob Thornton (the director of NASA likes them French fried potaters, mmm hmm) AND The Voice Of Charleton Heston. It's easily one of the stupidest movies ever made. And it's thoroughly entertaining, from start to finish. And as a bonus, it has That Guy actor William Fichtner , who automatically makes everything he's in that much more awesome. (Exhibit A: Doug Liman's otherwise sucky film Go.)

Center Stage. Yeah, I said it.

If you look up "it's so bad, it's good" in Merriam-Webster you'll see the movie poster from Center Stage with Cooper Nielson's cocky scowl front and center. Though what I love most about that movie is how so many of it's quotes can be used in real life situations. For example: Have a crappy boyfriend? "Cooper, you're an amazing dancer, and you're a great choreographer, but as a boyfriend... you kinda suck." Feel like putting someone down? Hardcore? "I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody." It's good for all of life's situations. Also, I dare you not to smile while watching it. You'll get to the end and be all, AGAIN! AGAIN!

The Craft

Yeah, that's right, I love The Craft. That movie about witches with scary scary Fairuza Balk all grown up and gothed out, and that girl from Empire Records (another awful movie I adore) who shaves her head is in it too.

The Craft is the story of a coven of witches inside a Catholic School that's like Beverly Hills High With Uniforms.  Newcomer Sarah (Robin Tunney) has always felt like an outcast, but she doesn't truly discover her exceptional nature until she meets Nancy (Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True). The four of them use magic to make the popular girl bald, make Skeet Ulrich fall in love with them and, of course, enhotten themselves.

But then the coven starts to turns super evil under the rule of the unhinged coven leader Nancy, who starts dabbling into some seriously heavy black magic. Sarah the good witch has to leave and then the other girls all try to destroy her. And, yes, it is as bad as it sounds, but listen — The Craft is hilarious.  I'm not sure if Fairuza Balk is being serious as an actress in it, but I kinda like to think that she just may be the most brilliant comedic actress ever. Plus what hetero girl in the 90s wouldn't have wanted to cast a spell on Skeet Ulrich to make him love her?

Aidan: I have a guilty, guilty pleasure. For some reason I really like Terminator 3.  I dragged my wife to see it, I own a copy somewhere, and when I'm sick or miserable I pull the damn thing out and watch.  Why do I take such comfort from a hollow-eyed Nick Stahl racing fruitlessly to save the world from imminent apocalypse with a sagging Arnold Schwarzenegger and a pouting Claire Danes at his side? Why, when the film is so full of lame moments and continuity errors? Did you know that the fastest way to get to an airplane hangar is through a cyclotron? My god that's ridiculous.  And yet.

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Snarky Amber

Jason made me remember another guilty pleasure of mine: Go. Fucking love that movie.

I pretty much go in for almost all the teen movies: 10 Things I Hate About You, She's All That, Can't Hardly Wait, Save the Last Dance... LOVE THAT SHIT.

Also, um... I was originally too embarrassed to admit this but here goes...

Miss Congeniality.


Aidan: T3's ending made up for a lot.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

OMG. I thought I was the only person who didn't hate "Armageddon".

Parts of it were funny.

On purpose.


I think Jennie and I have the same guilty pleasure.


Crap, you fucking people are going to make me watch "Armageddon" now, aren't you?



Amber, I just wanted to personally give you kudos for use of "enhotten." I LOLed.


I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again. Everybody sing!


So the fact that I own (and have watched more than once) two seasons of Felicity means that I beat you all, doesn't it?

Because I also own (and have watched dozens of times, including last Friday when I drank a bottle of red wine and balleted along) Center Stage.

And The Craft. And I've seen every episode of Dawson's Creek. Twice. Oh my...I won't even get into the fact that I can sing along word for word with at least five Pussy Cat Dolls songs. What? THEY'RE CATCHY.


Shine, I wouldn't have gotten through my maternity leave without "Felicity." I watched all four seasons AND WROTE DOWN MEMORABLE QUOTES. Man, that's a fantastic show. Also, it's possible I cried harder when Dawson's Creek ended than at any other series finale.


*NSYNC. I've seen them in concert in 4 different states. I dream that one day I can make it 5. I win....or lose.


I dont have a graceful bone in my body but I FREAKIN love Center Stage!! I want to be a ballerina everytime I watch it!


The only reason I write for MamaPop? The Nookie.


There's no shame in liking Go.


Yeah, that was definitely the moment that rewarded my patience.


That movie made me feel sick of all existence.


So you can take that cookie.


I nursed my child through daytime repeats of Dawsons. And loved it! I have seen them all at least a few times.

Who said Gilmore Girls? There is NO SHAME in loving GG. Right, Amalah?

Am humming ELO songs now...


Best. Avatar. EVAH.


And stick it up your YEAH!

Great. Now I feel nauseous.

Maria M

The Rent movie. God. It's awful. I adore it. ADORE IT.

Sally Says

Agreed. Go is awesome.


Oh babe, I hate to go.

There is NO shame in John Denver. My phone was ringing off the hook when he died because everyone knew I loved him so much.


I have spent many a sick day home from work watching 90210 reruns. And then one day I tweeted about it, and DYLAN MCKAY NOW FOLLOWS ME ON TWITTER! Who knew Dylan could tweet??? I'm such a lucky girl.


Armageddon is one of the best movies EVER!!!!Ahhh,HELL YEA!!! Armageddon and Independence Day fully frigging rule IMHO!!! The reason I didnt put up the big stink when hubby spent enough to feed a state getting blu-ray,a major kick ass surround sound system and a 62 inch LCD TV for over the fireplace,you guessed it kiddies!!!! I am so glad to know I am not alone in my love for the cheesy save the world movies that make bigass boomy noises


Two words: The Big Hit.

I am informed that that's actually three words. Apparently, I forgot how to count when I remembered how fabulous this film is. How can you not love a film with Mark Wahlberg, Christina Applegate, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Avery Brooks, whose badassness makes Sam Jackson look like a whiny four year old? Besides, the movie only had two female characters that they crammed every single action movie stereotype of a woman into.

I am informed that it had three hysterically caricatured female characters that they crammed as many possible stereotypes into! Every time I see this, I can't believe that it isn't the brainchild of a Sophia Coppola satirical wet dream. Usually, I just roll around on the floor laughing at the antics. I mean, seriously, he's a hit man that can kill without mercy but can't stand up to his coworkers or to women in his private life?





The Transporter. He can subdue villains with his sweater. HIS SWEATER!


Point Break. They weren't just surfing bank robbers--they were enlightenment-seeking surfing back robbers.

Wait, NO they were anarcho-syndicalist enlightenment seeking surfing bank robbers:

"This was never about money for us. It was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. To those dead souls inching along the freeways in their metal coffins, we show them that the human spirit is still alive."

This might be a little too cult-good/bad to count in this list. Aw, crap. There's a live action version of Point Break where actors read out the lines. It's art now. Damn.


I am pretty sure Center Stage isn't a guilty pleasure but a cornerstone of American cinema. Dancing Russians? Girl wearing overalls with big dreams? Eating disorders? Please- it should have gotten an Oscar.


I think there's no shame in loving Empire Records. Or, if there is, I'm there with you.


Ohh, Transporter. It's all about the motor oil fight scene.

My most guilty pleasure is that I loved "Judging Amy". What? I saw it as feminism in the real world. And Bruce was HOT.

Clearly, I need to rent Center Stage.


Oh yeah,music guilywise I agree with sweetney,ELO and lets not forget Supertramp!!!The highness of the lead singers voice still makes me squee with rapture!!!It must be the high falsettos of both groups,but I luvs em.Reminds me of summertime when I was but a wee lass and my first boyfriend(that drove a orange Pinto)smoking LOTS of buds and drinking Southern Comfort.Yep,I was one classy girl!!!


I love John Denver. Love him.


Considering the fact I am highly caucasian, I find my love for Jay-Z, Tupac and Snoop major guilty pleasures. My boyfriend thinks I'm insane when he hears " How Do You Want It" blasting through our house when he comes home from work. I def have more quirks in my music then anything else.
As for movies...The Painted Veil is like...my weakness. I fell in love with Edward Norton through that movie, and he's awful in it.
TV would have to be Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel, along with Discovery Health. I don't know if any of you have ever watched P&F but it's brilliant. It's so funny. There have been times I have watched it and have laughed myself into tears.


Reality shows.

In academia, these situations would NEVER pass human subjects so I always get a little titillationous feel that I'm watching something unethical, something verboten, something only an evil genius would execute.

I'm intrigued by An American Family (http://www.mamapop.com/mamapop/2009/05/the-mamapop-roundtable-guilty-pleasures.html#more):

"Decades before the advent of American broadcasting networks' ubiquitous reality programming, a story unfolded on public television that changed television history by spotlighting the true complexities of post-modern middle class family life. The cinema vérité documentary series An American Family premiered in 1973."

(See? Now it sounds cooler, like I'm smart because PBS did one and they called it a "documentary series" and I place it in a historical context and stuff.)

And I've loved Henry VIII since I was confirmed at age 14 (long before The Tudors hit the small screen). I wish I had the balls to institute a church and place myself at the head. I also find something so lusty about a macho red head (minus the gout) that I married one.


Yeah, I'm a moron.

Here Tiz, meet Wilbur.



OK...here it is for me.

NEIL DIAMOND. I love him. I play it loud and sing along. If I am having a bad day put on some Holy Holy from Hot August Night and I am singing and smiling once again.
And yes, I have mug that says Diamond Girl on it.

Deanna B

Not only do I love Center Stage, I love Center Stage 2. If there is a number after the title I will watch it. That's right. I am a sucker for the sequels. I wonder if I still have Center Stage 2 protected on my DVR...

I will also drop whatever I am doing to sing along with the theme song to The Fairly Odd Parents. Then I watch the entire episode.

Amanda of Shamelessly Sassy

I love all cheesy camp movies. Meatballs, Wet Hot American Summer, Parent Trap, Heavyweights, Indian Summer. If a kid goes to camp in a movie, I love it.


I honestly didn't think I had any viewing habits of which I was ashamed, but then I remembered back to freshmen year in college and the DAYS on end I would spend watching ANTM marathons. Guilty!


i can't believe i'm admitting this....i heart jennifer love hewitt. ghost whisperer rules! except none of my irl friends know this..ha ha.
can't hardly wait...love that flick. oh, and gilmore girls isn't a guilty pleasure, is it? if so, add it to my list.

Sally Says

The Real World/Road Rules challenge. I haven't watched The Real World in ages, and I never watched Road Rules, but for some reason I cannot resist those stupid challenge shows.

Tracy H

OMG! Every time my kids (and MEEE!) watch Phineas and Ferb, I seriously think whoever created this show is a genius!!!


Oh, how I love Center Stage!

"You didn't have the feet, Mom. I don't have the heart."

I also love the logistically impossible hair and costume changes in the Jody/Cooper final recital. Plus the motorcycle onstage.

Now I have to go watch it again.

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