I call it brain candy.
You might call it entertainment junk food (and you wouldn’t be alone).
But whatever you call it, if you’re a typical American, you probably imbibe often and without qualms.
I imbibe. But I have qualms.
And (like my Jewish heritage practically requires) I feel guilty.
Before I met my husband, I watched very little television, tended to watch films in foreign languages and primarily read literary fiction (which, I suppose, is difficult to define, but you get the idea).
I also wrote novels for fun and regularly attended classical music performances.
I was a snob and a nerd and was totally fine with that.
I still am.
But one thing has changed — I watch garbage on television (a.k.a. American Idol), went to see Thor a week ago, and I haven’t managed to finish reading a novel in months.
I feel dirty even admitting all that (although Thor was completely awful and I didn’t enjoy it at all, not even in a guilty way).
It feels wrong because I know I’m getting nothing of value from consuming that kind of brain-candy entertainment. It’s empty calories.
It would be easy to blame this on my husband, who did consume brain-candy entertainment regularly before he met me. But I’m just not that easily plied, am I?
Now I’m not so sure.
Favorite television shows:
Five years ago – I watched What Not to Wear with my roommate occasionally, so I guess that’d have to be it. I didn’t really watch anything else.
Now – Project Runway and Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and maybe Kitchen Nightmares. Oh, also, Game of Thrones. And Mad Men. And So You Think You Can Dance.
Five years ago – Amelie, Amores Perros and the Motorcycle Diaries.
Now – I could watch the Devil Wears Prada over and over. And when I saw that Where the Heart Is is now streaming on Netflix, I was more excited than I should have been. I also watched Dirty Dancing for the umpteen-millionth time the other day. And then watched an old James Bond flick. It was awesome.
Five years ago – Anything by Joyce Carol Oates, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Choke by Chuck Palaniuk (I had a bit of a goth streak). I also memorized a bunch of e.e. cummings and Lawrence Ferlinghetti poems, which I would recite to my boyfriend at the time (which may explain, at least in part, the not-so-parenthetical death of our relationship).
Now – I’ve been trying to finish Rebecca Traister’s book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, for several months. I have a pile of books to read that I haven’t touched. But I liked Room by Emma Donoghue, which I read in a weekend this winter.
Five years ago – Debussy’s string quartet and Shostakovich’s 13th symphony (so haunting!)
Now – I went to an Avett Brothers concert last week, which was fun. Mostly, I just listen to whatever’s on WCLZ (when I’m not listening to MPBN).
I could chalk this all up to the guilty-little-pleasures excuse, but it’s hard to call them little pleasures when you eat them every day.
Now I’m worried my brain is so used to candy, it’s rejecting the good-for-you stuff. At the end of a long day, I just want what’s easy, what’s effortless. That may be a product of a more creatively taxing job, but I loved nutritious entertainment when I was working full time and getting my master’s degree.
I think I’ve just changed. Now I’m wondering if I can change back.
I want to be a snob and a nerd again.
I just hope my husband will love me either way. I think he will … as long as I watch Game of Thrones with him, anyway. I’m sure he could live without So You Think You Can Dance.