Wednesday, 1 June 2016

GUILTY DISPLEASURES by VALERIE LAWS

Fuelled partly by guilty displeasures...

I've been enjoying, and contributing to, a facebook thread of Julie Burchill's about 'guilty displeasures' - we are all familiar with guilty pleasures, but Mark Mason, in his Spectator column, has exposed some of his GDs, things he hates which are supposed to be cool. In his case, strawberries, Ella Fitzgerald, and champagne head the list. This has got me thinking and raging about my own guilty displeasures, such as classical music. Virtually all of it does nothing for me, though I have a liking for early polyphonic choral music such as William Byrd. Classical music makes a nice soundtrack in films playing in the background while you are watching stuff happen. Classical concerts are the worst, watching people do something totally not visually interesting, with no way of alleviating the tedium. I've been assumed to like it many many times because I'm involved in 'the arts' and have caused shockwaves by saying I don't like it but there it is. I firmly believe that the old composers would have loved to live now, when they could put out their music electronically, as it sounds much better that way, cf William Orbit's 'Barber's Adagio' or Beethoven's 9th done on synthesiser for the film of Clockwork Orange. Don't like jazz either, they just make it up and it never seems to end or indeed, go anywhere. Sadly quite a lot of otherwise good books have protagonists who like jazz or classical, which doesn't help me to relate to them at all.

Never mind Harry Potter, bring back The Worst Witch!

Where entire books are concerned, I hereby admit that Harry Potter in every incarnation leaves me utterly cold. Yes, yes, anything that gets kids reading is a good thing yadda yadda, but why some adults gush about the books is a mystery to me. I got dragged to one of the later films for a mate's birthday and practically had to gnaw my own leg off to avoid dying of boredom. Disliking HP is treated as blasphemy on social media and in real life come to that, and is often assumed to be based on envy of his creator's big bucks. However I've a soft spot for JK because she pays her taxes and I'm happy she's a big success.

Great book, but two characters need a good kicking!
Other guilty displeasures have in fact fuelled my work, in particular my Austen comedy novel, LYDIA BENNET'S BLOG. (And here in the US.) Apart from championing Lydia Bennet, who gets a bum deal in the book though she gets to shag the gorgeous George W, I have to say right here and now that though I love the book and all of Austen's novels, Darcy does nowt for me. Hence I enjoy Lydia's total lack of respect for 'Arsey Darcy' in my book. Let's face it, even Jane A had to bring in his enormous... acreage and stately home to make him attractive, and his saintly act re Lydia's wedding also protected his own good name, since he was after Lizzy. He's tall. And rude. But rich. Big deal. And the whole wet shirt thing was only on the TV, despite some seeming to now believe Jane invented the scene. Be not shocked though, the vast numbers of Darcy-swooners have got their revenge, as the gazillions of romances about Darcy the ultimate alpha male etc etc have swamped my cynical flight of fancy and filthy laughs, so it's either assumed to be another of the swarm and hence unspotted by fellow rebels, or bought by people seeking same who don't like it. I also dislike heartily that misogynistic, lazy, selfish, abusive father figure, Mr Bennet, who seems to be widely liked. He sits on his arse in his library doing absolutely nowt and mocking his wife to his daughters, amused by her desperate attempts to get them married - hilarious, that they'll all be homeless, literally, when he dies unless some of them do marry, as in Sense & Sensibility, but he won't be affected so why bother doing anything about it? What a charmer. So I give him a good kicking in my book as well.

Do you have any guilty displeasures in literature or in life?

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5 comments:

JO said...

I don't do guilt - it's such a waste of energy. But am with you in the can't get Harry Potter corner - I know they've helped huge numbers of children and young people to get into books, and they might be great adventure stories, but they just go on and on and on!

Jan Needle said...

saying you don't like classical music in this country is almost as terrible as saying you don't think shakespeare is divine (at least). so i'll hedge me bets by saying some shakespeare is pretty bearable, as is some classical music, but wouldn't it be nice if they stopped sqwing away at their fiddles so self-consciously while dressed as penguins, and doing totally egregious things like midsummer nights dream on telly on monday, which was appalling on almost every level known to man, woman or scholar. and as to children! well, there's another generation of bard haters created in a mere ninety minutes of self-regarding, head up their own arses, look at me aren't i clever and cool idiocy. and dream is actually one of the old chap's greatest plays, if it works don't fix it, etc etc etc! ooh i still feel nauseous. shut me up before i get on to classical piano players throwing their hands up in the air after every flourish (that almost looks as if they're about to have an orgasm,or at least sneak out a big wet fa...oh enough!)

sorry about that, chaps. valerie, will you marry me?

Chris Longmuir said...

I regret to say I'm a pleb - I don't do classical. I prefer not to listen to classical music, although I am partial to Strauss (is he classical?), I can't stand ballet or opera, and I suffered in silence the Midsummer's Night Dream on telly on Monday. Oh and whisper it, I don't like classical novels particularly Jane Austen, and when I did a twentieth century literature course at uni, I fell asleep before the end of every chapter in Middlemarch. How I ever finished the book I'll never know. But I'm willing to give a shot at any book that gives a Jane Austen novel a kicking, so Lydia Bennet's Blog has been added to my reading list.

Reb MacRath said...

I don't have any GDs. I'm as fierce and free in my hates as my loves. For me it's a choice between soporifics and superifics. And I always go for super. Major soporifics: Jane Austen, George Eliot, T. S. Eliot, classical music other than Queen, Stanley Kubrick movies...and on and on and on. Great post.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I agree with the principle but I love classical music of all kinds. Got hooked on Beethoven when I was at university and had a friend who was passionate about it. Play the piano, love Chopin, really enjoy orchestral music and opera although I can't afford to go very often.Can't write without music. I have pretty eclectic tastes in music although I don't like modern jazz that seems to go on and on and on to no purpose. My BIG guilty displeasure is Jane Eyre. I can admit that the book is well written and ground breaking (maybe) and all that but I think she comes across as one of those women who is always telling everyone how small and plain she is, when really she's steel underneath. And I don't like Rochester either. No wonder the first Mrs R went mad. Preferable to being married to such a bully. I reread it recently to see if I had changed my mind but I hadn't. I enjoyed reading it - but still felt that they deserved each other. On the other hand, Wuthering Heights ... pure pleasure. Love Jane Austen. Except for Anne Elliot. She's a bit trying. There are, however, a lot of five star movies that I would rather stick pins in my eyes than watch - especially those with all or mostly male casts. Although I'll make an exception for anything with Tom Hanks in it.