A confession: I quite like Iggy Azalea. I wouldn't put The New Classic on my list of greatest albums of all time, but as far as empty-headed bubblegum rap goes, it's more consistently entertaining than Nicki Minaj's The Pinkprint, which (despite some great singles) gets mired in bland ballads and incongruous sincerity. None of that for Iggy, who tosses off one cheerfully snotty anthemic chorus after another, complete with an affected hood accent. She's the Bob Dylan of pop rap: the awfulness of the pseudo-authenticity is its own grating hook.
Liking Iggy, even a little bit, is a major aesthetic faux pas, a guilty pleasure, and whether people should feel guilty about culture has been the source of much debate in recent years. The UCLA English professor Megan Stephan speaks for the critical consensus when she declares, "I'll be grateful when the back-and-forth chatter about whether our reading should make us feel guilty fades to a silence that allows me to hear the sound of pages turning." Ignore the elitist sneering of cultural arbiters who don't want you to enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey or The Avengers, these voices say. Fight the power by embracing your Iggy love, guilt-free.
There are a lot of good reasons to mistrust guilt. Regulation and censure of pleasure has historically been used to denigrate and control marginalized groups. That's most obvious in the case of the LGBT community, whose desires and pleasures have been literally policed. It's true of women too, though, who are shamed for reading romance novels, and for black people, who've been shamed for basically every form of cultural expression they've developed—blues, jazz, rock, hip hop, twerking—in the short period between invention and the moment when mainstream squatters like Iggy repackaged them and took them straight to the bank. Even straight white men can be shamed or mocked for liking romantic comedies, or surreptitiously enjoying Taylor Swift and thereby associating themselves with a denigrated gender, or age group, or sexuality. "Wrong" pleasures are a way to identify the wrong people; the respectable read The Goldfinch, the debased and deluded read Twilight.