You’ve heard of the whole ‘so bad it’s good’ thing, right? This phenomenon accounts for a surprisingly large chunk of contemporary popular culture. It is the rationale behind almost the entirety of the hipster aesthetic, for example: those oversized beards, the nerd glasses, the t-shirts with pictures of animals on them, the food served on things that aren’t plates – all of these are total crap. Such crap, in fact, that in eyes of their adherents they have turned full-circle and become the opposite of crap (but still sort-of-crap, and thus we have sunk into the notoriously bewildering labyrinth constituted by the interminable iterations of hipster post-irony).
It’s not just hipsters either. We have all been guilty, I would venture, of enjoying things that are so bad they’re good. Who hasn’t rofld over the ridiculousness of The Room or Freddy Got Fingered? Who hasn’t lold over those segments in shows like The X Factor where they show those seriously deluded people who think they’re good when really they’re awful? Who hasn’t I-Can’t-Evend over those terrible synonyms for ‘laughed’? Basically, the fact that things are beyond shite is frequently a perfectly acceptable reason for enjoying them.
But what about the ‘so good it’s bad’ thing? Could there even be such a thing? Up until yesterday I would have answered that question in the negative. But I have since bumped up against proof that yes, indeed, there can be things that are so good they’re bad. And those things are jalebis.
For those culturally illiterate subhumans who retain an unawareness of Asian desserts, jalebis are made from deep fried batter that has been twisted to look a bit like a pretzel, then soaked, totally soaked, in syrup. And they’re beyond delicious. They are so delicious, in fact, that they are sort of too much. It is quite difficult to finish a whole jalebi, and almost impossible to eat more than one in a single sitting. They are just too delicious to handle. They are so good it’s bad.
Now it might be argued that many things fulfil this criterion; things like cocaine and heroin, one might think, are so good (i.e. addictive) that they’re bad. But there is a subtle difference: it is the goodness of jalebis that, paradoxically, makes them bad, whereas with drugs their goodness is incidental to their badness: it is not the addictiveness of heroin, per se, that makes it bad, rather the fact that the addictiveness inheres in a substance that is bad for other reasons (for example, loss of motivation, risk of HIV, etc).
With jalebis we have the curious phenomenon whereby the goodness is itself just too much. I would argue that there are very few, if any, other things for which this is true. Those people who are (un?)lucky enough to experience multiple intense orgasms may have something to say about this. I’ve heard is said that such an experience can be just ‘too much’, but that, ladies and gents, is very much for another article in a another publication. Who the hell do you think we are?