Movies, television and music are all used to create a cultural identity and to relate with others. We identify with people of similar taste and are able to connect over a common bond. A guilty pleasure can develop when we find things outside that expected identity that we still enjoy. The term may be tongue-in-cheek, but the idea that we are expected to enjoy one show and dislike another based solely on public image is ridiculous.
Guilty pleasure implies we feel bad for liking something, but I've rarely met someone who is actually repentant. Rather than an apology, conversations about guilty pleasures are usually accompanied by some of the fiercest defenses. As anyone who has heard me talk about Kanye West can attest, the rationalization behind guilty pleasures can be convoluted and not fully justified, but unwavering in their dedication.
In general, I think guilty pleasures can be sorted into two groups. Those that are obviously bad, but we don't care because they are just so much fun, and those that are outside normal expectations, or carry some stigma.
My love for the movie "Pacific Rim" falls into the first category. There are countless plot holes and cheesy motifs, but I don't care because the movie doesn't care. It wants to be a rad movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters, and it delivers. Relationships are one note, the stakes are absurd, and plot solutions are completely outlandish. There are obvious faults in the movie, but I'm able to overlook them because watching a giant robot using a cargo ship like a baseball bat is too fun to dismiss over petty reasons like continuity or character development.
The second variety of guilty pleasure is a little more personal. These are the movies and shows that are outside the norm, and we feel like we have to justify them. Frankly, that's dumb. If you're a macho guy who is swept away by "Gone With The Wind," then own it. If you are 22 and still can't get enough of Disney Channel sitcoms, more power to you.
We all have the same range of emotions and ideals that can be appealed to through entertainment. Just because you are not the target audience, or it isn't a masterpiece, doesn't mean you can't love something.