This is something I've been trying to argue to people for years. People can be so one-dimensional sometimes, or rather try to enforce one-dimension on other individuals. As a result people make stupid assumptions about others all the time, trying to mould them into a stereotype. In my experience if you tell someone you enjoy listening to goth music they make so many judgements about that can be so far from the truth - that you think goth is superior and don't listen to anything else, that you automatically like Tim Burton, Anne Rice, E. A. Poe or whoever (I do like their work but come on I don't think Rice is the best writer in the world, not by a longshot and I do like directors other than Burton) and so on and so forth. The list is endless. Again, say you like anime and manga and people make crass assumptions about the kind of person you are. If you say you enjoyed an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger you're labelled as an uneducated idiot who can only be amused by loud bangs and big guns. I once saw someone on imdb say something on the lines of if you don't like Guest House Paradiso you must be the type of person who likes Moulin Rouge. What....the....fuck? I like both films a lot. I didn't know it had to be one or the other. How stupid and ridiculous is that? If you go talk to metal fans they're all chummy with you until you mention that you're into something like David Bowie or classical music then their faces glaze over in shock. People can like different things. We don't have to be boring and rigid and stick to only certain things. It shouldn't matter what our age, sex, occupation or anything else is. If you want to make a jump to something radically different to your norm that takes your fancy then do so. People shouldn't make you feel guilty about doing so. This is the problem I have with that whole 'guilty pleasures' concept. I don't have any guilty pleasures because I feel no shame, embarrassment or guilt over liking what I do. I don't care if people think it's odd. Sucks to be them I say if they let themselves grow miserable with shame over something like that.
Very much agreed amyl_nitrate (btw, you wouldn't be named in reference to a Suede song would you?) I used to dress like a goth, but I would rave about 80's guitar music, dance my legs down to the knees at the indie disco and explain through gritted teeth how The Cure certainly weren't a 'goth band'. I mean, can you imagine Friday I'm In Love playing in the bedroom of some severely depressed Satanist? I don't know, maybe you can, maybe they can't be stereotyped either, maybe there are some very happy Satanists into flower arranging and needlework.
I have to say that stereotypes do exist for a reason though. When at work I can tell what person will browse what section of the bookshop by looking at how they are dressed, their conversation, or their family / friends. But, I see what you're saying, beyond their taste it books and clothes it might be impossible to predict their taste in movies or music.
I was talking to a customer the other day about his purchase (Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair') and how much I enjoyed reading it, when he launched into a lecture on the merits of Tolkien. He seemed so enthusiastic, bless him, that I didn't have the heart to tell him that I abandoned reading Lord of The Rings in the middle of the second book, and that I stamped my foot in angry disbelief when it was voted the greatest novel of all time. I did, however, enjoy the film adaptations immensely. I thought that made me a bit of a heathen, but after reading Stephen's article about media not being mutually exclusive and love of one thing not excluding you from admitting love of another, I feel rather vindicated. Mind you, I'm still one of those people who bemoans (most) cover versions of songs on the basis that 'the original was so much better'. Hypocrisy is allowed isn't it?
With regards to manga and anime, I have to say that many people are rather snobbish about it. But even though I personally don't 'get it', it certainly has it's place, and it lent itself extremely well to the film 'Kill Bill'.
I don't necessarily feel guilty about the things I like, but I am a very private person in public (if that makes sense) and I think I get quite embarrassed if I haven't made the choice to reveal my likes and dislikes to someone. That probably says more about my poor social skills than anything else.
Actually I only came here to say that I loved the article and The Guardian shall have one more regular customer on a Saturday henceforth. But your comment provoked a 'When Harry Met Sally' moment in me, "yes, yes, yes" and all that. Now there's a strange thing, in touch with the dark side and I like a chick flick. You never know, reading Stephen's column every week might even inspire me to become less technologically averse.