Answer: Stop branding people ‘basic’. Simple! Because surely mockery and self-importance are the most basic (and by ‘basic’ I mean ‘inherently unthoughtful and embarrassing’) traits to possess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a total advocate for the addition of a casual, colloquial term to our ever-expanding articulary arsenal – bae, feels, fleek and even the eternally-applicable ‘the struggle is real’ all have their place in 2k15 – but basic seems a little… how can I put it… basic?
The premise of the insult is that the person to whom the insult is being delivered lacks individuality. Whether that be down to their socks and Benassi slides combo, their festi-cool outfit that may or may not involve denim shorts (guilty x10), Hunters wellies (actually not guilty), a fringed top (guilty) and a floral headband (guilty-ish), or their apparent lack of self-awareness when dishing out the aforementioned slanguage.
An Urban Dictionary contributor describes a ‘basic bitch’ as such:
‘Someone who is unflinchingly upholding of the status quo and stereotypes of their gender without even realising it. She engages in typical, unoriginal behaviours, modes of dress, speech, and likes. She is tragically/laughably unaware of her utter lack of specialness and intrigue. She believers herself to be unique, fly, amazing, and a complete catch, when really she is boring, painfully normal, and par.’
Basically, ‘basic’ pokes fun at the apparent unoriginality of people – people who, by all means, still consider themselves special (which, when you consider the probability of you – yes you – being born is one in 400 trillion, doesn’t seem like an outlandish thing to believe) – while side-stepping the unquestionable: by definition we have all, at one point, been a basic bitch.
Each and every one of us engages in typical behaviours, modes of dress and speech every damn day. It’s an unavoidable inevitability. We pick and choose which behaviours best suit us. We adopt styles we like the look of. Sometimes I will, giddily and unashamedly, hit ‘check-out’ on an entire ASOS look; so shoot me! We embrace the latest influx of acronyms so that we, too, can dispel them at will. Granted, I have no use for the word ‘thot’, but it’s good to know what it means for the next time a fella in a car aggressively yells it at me. Society and consumerism impose an array of attitudes and beliefs upon us, and then ridicules us for whole-heartedly buying into them; we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t.
The real shitty stickler in this whole denigrating debacle is that it’s hard to bounce back from ‘basic’, even though the tag is entirely nonsensical. I liken it to when your parents (or terribly cruel siblings) called you out in front of your pals when you were younger, often with the damning statement: “Stop showing off in front of your friends!” Well I wasn’t, but now I totally look like I was. UGH. How do you justify your individuality? And do you even bother?
I didn’t intend to quote High School Musical here but Troy Bolton had a point when he said ‘we’re all in this together’. But ‘basic’ exists to set apart those who try to those who, apparently, succeed. When does dipping your toe in the trend pool stop being acceptable and start being inauthentic? When does the dispelling of slanguage stop being cool and start rendering you mindless? When do your behaviours pass over from heavily-influenced to totally unoriginal? And who is to ever be the judge of that?
‘Basic bitch’ – however throwaway a statement – suggests that someone, somewhere, has disparaged the authenticity of another person, while reinforcing their own realness. But is anyone ever completely safe from being branded a double B? In a world of seven billion others, I doubt it.
FYI, about seven definitions down in the ‘basic bitch’ category, I found an explanation that kicked patriarchal ass:
‘Yet another term used by society to judge women and their lifestyle choices. Because, honestly, what would we do with our time if we didn’t have socially accepted ways to demean and denigrate women for choices they make, even though those choices have nothing to do with ourselves or our own choices?’
Now excuse me while I get all basic up in here: PREACH!