Monday Musings: The Line Between Shallow And Fun

Sometimes, we all get caught up in a touch of nostalgia and go back to an old guilty pleasure that gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. Maybe it’s a trashy romance novel, maybe a “so bad it’s good” movie, or maybe a show or game that really has very little substance at all. Recently, as I made jokes comparing myself to Kirby, I found myself in the same place and went wandering back to Dream Land to play as the pink puff ball. I picked up Kirby Squeak Squad and was instantly hit with just how shallow the plot was – and proceeded to not give a damn.

inciting incident
Legitimately the inciting incident

This isn’t too uncommon in games, especially in platformers where you really don’t have to give much of a shit at all. For the longest time no one had any idea what the plot was to Super Mario Bros. How could you? It only came with two lines of dialogue and a plot that required you read the manual. And, let’s be honest, no one ever read videogame manuals, that’s why they stopped getting included. As time’s gone on, those sorts of games have slowly been reeled back as more intricate games have stepped forward. Still, occasionally, you get the urge to play a game that doesn’t really seem to give a shit what the plot was in the first place – that’s why the most recent release of Doom was so well received.


But it doesn’t just hold true for games. Every form of entertainment has this pocket of “should be garbage, but isn’t” and it’s known by many names. Guilty pleasures and popcorn flicks are so common to people of all walks of life that they’re part of the everyday vernacular. And the thing is, in some cases they become so beloved that everyone agrees that their flaws are perfectly clear but don’t matter one damn bit. Hell, some productions even go out of their way to hit every single trope they can to try to become one of these on purpose.


So, question: what’s so different between these and something that everyone agrees is legitimate garbage?

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