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Stop Calling Games Guilty Pleasures

The newly released Devil May Cry 5 inspired Tim and I to talk about the idea of games that some might consider “guilty pleasures” and why sometimes that can be a little misguided. I’m totally fine with liking things that don’t necessarily qualify as artistic masterpieces and delving into what makes “trashier” games so damn good.

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It’s the same reason I don’t go out every night ordering the finest filet mignon, nor do I only watch Oscar contenders whenever I want to duck into a dark theater after a long week. Fast food and popcorn action flicks can sometimes generate fun discussions. Tim cited Pauline Kael, whose famous 1969 essay “Trash, Art, and the Movies” pointed out that sometimes we also have to appreciate the “trashier” side of entertainment.

Tim and I ended up talking about some of our favorite trashier games (and movies) and why we want y’all to quit calling things guilty pleasures. Seriously, it’s fine to like a thing that the critics don’t.

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Watch the video above or read an excerpt here:


Paul: I always think about what wins “best picture” at the Oscars. I love Moonlight. I think it deserved its accolades.

Tim: Yeah, that was a weird case of a movie that was good winning. Good job.

Paul: Absolutely. Like yeah, you deserve that “best picture.” But when you think about what moves the needle most times, especially from a cultural perspective you think about the Black Panther’s of the world or Into the Spider-Verse. Things that are more palatable for a larger audience that we laugh and clap at or rewatch three times. Like I’m probably not going to rewatch whatever depressing movie won “best picture.”

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Tim: I think the line between what is art and trash at the movies is so microscopic right now. Something like Spider-Verse would have gotten thumbs down and two stars twenty years ago. I feel like critics, generally, have just chilled out. These Marvel movies always get in the 90’s on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paul: It’s also why I own the box set of the Fast & Furious franchise because those movies are so ridiculous and over-the-top.

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Tim: They’re incredibly good. I saw Fast & Furious come up a lot when I was talking about Crackdown 3. I loved Crackdown 3, critics hated it. A lot of commenters were like “why do you like this game because critics hate it?” and I had to get all professorial and be like “It’s ok. If you like it, that’s great.”

I make videos for Kotaku. I make video games for myself and my friends. I like writing fiction. Someday I will publish a novel. Who knows!

Video Producer, Kotaku. Fluent in Spanglish. Tetris Master. Streamer. Host of The Optional Podcast.

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DISCUSSION

Tim: I think the line between what is art and trash at the movies is so microscopic right now. Something like Spider-Verse would have gotten thumbs down and two stars twenty years ago. I feel like critics, generally, have just chilled out. These Marvel movies always get in the 90’s on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ya... but then you get to Awards season when you see films to Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, and Green Book nominated which are mediocre films at best. While people argue if a truly good (and culturally resonant film) like Black Panther even deserves to be there.  Its one thing to write good reviews but until these films are recognized for the cultural achievements they are I think the divide between those who watch movies and those who make movies will still be quite wide.