In Defense of “Brain Candy”
Fun and dumb can be good for you too
I remember growing up, my dad used to speak disparagingly about what he called “bubblegum pop.” Mostly, this meant Britney Spears and the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys. You know, not serious music like the Beatles.
Around the time I was in high school, I remember discussion of what many people called “brain candy.” They mostly meant the same thing my dad meant: fluffy fun entertainment.
Just like “health” trends and fad diets where people don’t eat anything that might be “bad” for them — like sweets and candy — consuming only serious entertainment sounds terrible to me. What a bleak, depressing life I would live without silly fun music, movies, books, etc.
When I was in my final year of university (completing an English degree), I had so much reading and writing to do that I simply didn’t have time to read books that weren’t assigned. I wandered into a used bookstore one day and picked up a copy of Robert Lynn Asprin’s Another Fine Myth, took it home and put it on the shelf above my desk where I could look at it every day and tell myself that was going to be my reward when I finished my last essay.
The reading for school was meat and potatoes, and the silly fantasy on the shelf was my dessert. A “candy” story, if you will.
I recently watched the new DC superhero movie Shazam! I haven’t laughed so much or so hard at a movie in years. I needed that. Especially with how dark superhero movies can be lately (with the notable exception of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy).
There’s a place for the dark, the serious, the meat and potatoes of entertainment. But when I need to escape some of the terrible things that are happening in the real world, sometimes I need something dumb and fun. Sometimes, I need to eat a piece of candy.