We discussed in class how Coney Island could be seen as a guilty pleasure for adults of the time because it was a place where they could let their hair down and behave almost like teenagers again. In a way maybe even going to sports games could have been a guilty pleasure for women since it was more of a man's pastime. In general think that throughout history, different styles of entertainment have been seen as guilty pleasures (i.e. Rock 'n' Roll) By looking at these "guilty pleasures" we get a chance to see what the ideals of the time were for different areas of society and what was acceptable by the social codes.
A "guilty pleasure" for people throughout time has always been classified as something one enjoys despite feeling that it is not held in high regard in society as a whole. Studying these particular pop culture artifacts makes us understand some of the trends and entertainment happening at that specific time. Things we have talked about/ read in class that would classify as a guilty pleasure at the given time period are minstrel shows. Even though the minstrel shows were extremely popular, being packed with families from every ethnic group, they were also controversial. Also things such as Coney Island making the visitors, even older people, feel as if they were still a child.
After our class discussions, required readings, and references to today’s guilty pleasures, I believe people at the time would’ve regarded Barnum’s Museum as a guilty pleasure. The museum played on people desire to know more as well as the desire to be apart of history. When the museum brought oddities from around the world, people, of all classes, flocked to be apart of it. Whether it be to judge the validity of the item or see the comical item passed off as valid, people wanted to be there. By studying the museum, and they people who came to visit, we can get a picture of what life was like for these people and what outlets they sought for entertainment.
As discussed in class, in the mid to late 1800s, a guilty pleasure for many were saloons. They often allowed for an escape from the long workweeks and offered a place outside of their homes to relax. Saloons became a location for socializing and definitive area to determine social class status. The addition of saloons into society created an everyday routine for men—attend work, go to the saloons and then go home to their family. We can learn much from these practices as it allows us to understand how members of society at the time relaxed and chose to spend their money.
I agree with all of ideas of possible guilty pleasures that we discussed in class. I believe we are all on the same page when we agree that a guilty pleasure is something people use in search for entertainment and an escape from their daily life. Also that we can view these events to get a feel of the desired entertainment and leisure time. For example, Michael talks about how Barnum's Museum attracted many people from all over the world who desired to be present at the event for many reasons. Also Julia's example fits the criteria as she describes saloons being something men do after work to have some leisure time before going back home. All of these examples give light to the lifestyle of people at a given time, focusing on things other then their occupation and family life.
After reading through the above comments I am seeing that while guilty pleasure applies to a wide variety of things and so many different types of people have them, some of them also seem to be specific to a certain group. Saloons were a guilty pleasure for the working man; he could be with his friends away from work and away from the home. Other activities are guilty pleasures to adult specifically, like Coney Island. This puts an emphasis on what is expected of a certain group and helps to explain a bit about why they gravitate to this activity.
I think that the idea of "guilty pleasure" is consistent among all of the comments made above. When breaking down the word, it essentially describes an emotional state in which an individual feels pleasure out of doing something that also makes him/her feels guilty because of what society considers normal. Michael's example of Barnum's Museum is extremely pertinent because this is an instance where individuals find entertainment out of another person's appearance. Society tells us that this museum is something that we shouldn't find pleasing to us, however the fact that another person's appearance or unusual talent provides us amusement is what makes us feel guilty. These instances of guilty pressure are synonymous to the guilty pressures of our society today. Reality TV is a great example of how ridiculous behaviors and habits are televised in order to provide a source of entertainment to the general public. We truly shouldn't find pleasure and amusement out of shows like "My Strange Addiction" or "Keeping up with the Kardashians", yet these shows still provide a great source of entertainment to our generation. I believe that these pop culture artifacts provide unique insights into the type of society and culture that existed back in that time period. In other words, the things that individuals would consider a guilty pressure show us the type of societal norms that existed during that time. For example, the fact that Barnum's Museum was considered such a guilty pressure for individuals could hint that individuals during that time period were not as accepting of people with unusual habits and appearances as they should have been. In addition, Julia's example of saloons could hint at the fact that individuals during that time period were heavily focused on work and family life and therefore needed an outlet like a saloon to escape from that stressful environment.
In class, we discussed examples such as Barnum's Museum, Minstrel shows, and Coney Island. Of course there were many more, however, one guilty pleasure, which is still relevant today, is shopping. Shopping became a leisure activity just as much as going to the park or to a museum. Not necessarily the act of purchasing things, but the idea of going to a department store and browsing - even just trying clothes on "for fun." The idea of looking good became more and more important (this can also be applied to physical fitness and working out). Learning about these guilty pleasures helps us to understand the ways in which society functioned and adapted while politics and the economy were also evolving. I agree with the above comments and I also think that guilty pleasures became a way for people to temporarily escape from reality - specifically social rules. For instance, Coney Island was mentioned. All classes and ages went and intermingled. For the time there, it did not matter. With Barnum's Museum, the inexpensive admission was meant to be family friendly and inviting to middle to high class. The activities in which people were indulging in, provided release from a strict societal structure.
When looking at all of the references and correlations between “guilty pleasures” of the past and present, it is evident people seek these outlets as a refuge from everyday life. When the monotony of working, and the emergence of leisure time, people turned to these, often destinations, for some sort of release. As noted, Coney Island was sought out by young adults looking to break-free from society’s pressure to act like perfect young men and women. Also, as pointed out above, working class men sought out saloons for a place to drink and socialize now that it had been banned from the workplace. These destinations, and the people that frequented them, show us that people of the 19th century were looking to redefine themselves.
Peoples guilty pleasure as shown by the many examples reflected their desire to separate work from play. With the creation of Coney Island, as Ashley mentioned, adults could let their hair down and have fun, but also bring their children to do the same. This allowed for the combination of family and leisure time to occur at the same time. Although many people enjoyed going to the saloons after a long day at work, unlike at Coney Island, they could not do so with their children. Guilty pleasures were outlet for citizens to forget about the hardships of everyday life and to let loose.
Of all the material we have learned so far in this course, I think that Barnum's Museum represents a "guilty pleasure" the most. P.T. Barnum based his career off of humbugs to stir up questions and to get people talking by advertising freak shows and human curiosities. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the audience who attended his shows were usually disappointed with what they saw, even after Barnum had put out such extravagant ads. What the people were expecting to see was usually much more disappointing than astounding, but they would keep coming back for more anyway.By studying these particular pop cultural artifacts, I think it makes sense to say that not a lot has changed. Guilty pleasures continue to be a reflection of people's desire to "escape reality" as Kelsey said. From a personal standpoint, my guilty pleasures are Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians. It's not that I necessarily like Miley Cyrus or the Kardashians, but they're entertaining, just like Barnum's Museum was. When I watch either Miley or the Kadashians on tv, I get to experience their crazy and chaotic lives that are completely foiled from mine, and for some reason, I find it extremely amusing.