In defense of horse girls and Nickelback fans

Why you should embrace your ‘guilty pleasures.’

Will Nelson, Senior Columnist

I saw an ant on the floor of the bathroom last Tuesday morning. His path wound wildly and randomly across the tiled floor, making loops and switchbacks. After several minutes of watching, he was in the same place he started.

I briefly wondered why he was taking such an inefficient path. But I quickly realized that he must not know when he’s gone in circles. If I’m not careful, I’ll occasionally end up doing the same thing when I’m walking in the forest. It’s hard to tell where you’re going from where you are.

What seemed obviously misguided from my angle on the toilet seat was perfectly logical from millimeters above the crisscrossing tile.

Maybe, I thought, that’s what my life looks like from above. How would I know if I’m going in circles? Am I wasting away my life? 

Sitting on the toilet, in crisis and close to tears, I thought back on a tweet posted by some soccer player in 2015: “Life is too short to pretend you don’t like Taylor Swift’s songs.”

Thinking about that tweet made me feel a lot better. When I first decided that I liked Taylor Swift, some of my friends at the time — indie kids — ridiculed me for it. They’d mock me for having superficial music taste, then go back to gatekeeping Tame Impala. I’ve noticed that they’ve gotten awfully quiet about their distaste for Swift since Folklore dropped, but that’s beside the point — I realized that it felt better to be scorned for my taste than to try to suppress it. 

I began to understand horse girls– they’re aware of the stereotype surrounding them, but to acknowledge them and change their behavior would mean suppressing their passion for something. They understand that taunting is preferable to bending to the will of society. Horse girls are based.

It’s the same way with Nickelback fans. It’s fun to laugh at them, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones who’ve managed to hold out against the colossal pressures of a culture that’s hellbent on invalidating their personal taste.

Throughout society, there are instances of this happening — some more serious than others.

The idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ is horrifying. It implies that there are certain things — TV shows, bands, general interests — that popular culture holds in such low regard that anyone who likes them should simply pretend like they don’t. It’s a serious suppression of individuality and self-expression and probably shouldn’t be taken as lightly as it is. 

We carry on making secret playlists, using Incognito tabs to watch romcoms or animes and acting embarrassed when someone catches us singing Kelly Clarkson in the car as if we’re okay with living that way. But I think it’s unacceptable. 

If you like something, like it hard. Show it. Tell everyone you know about it. Talk to your lab partner about the Percy Jackson fanfic you’re into. Explain the evolution of One Direction’s discography to your coworkers. Never feel embarrassed or guilty about something you enjoy, because people who are obnoxiously passionate about something are still infinitely more interesting than people who aren’t passionate about anything at all. 

Maybe we are just like that ant, running in meaningless circles on the gritty bathroom floor of a college dorm. Maybe our lives don’t lead anywhere at all and the only thing we can do is enjoy ourselves. Why waste time feeling bad about liking something?