“Basic bitch” has become the insult du jour, which under the common usage of “basic” makes the insult and those who use it basic. Would that make it basic squared? Lots of insults come and go, but this one strikes me as particularly malignant and shallow.
If you are lucky enough to have no idea what “basic” means as an insult, here is a little introduction:
Here’s the thing. Men and women are constantly pressured to conform to social norms. Those who do not conform are not lauded as iconoclasts, they are shunned and bullied as weirdos and nutters. How many teens commit suicide each year because they are not “basic” enough for their classmates to treat them well? I could probably google it, but it would be too sad and I don’t want to know the answer.
So all of a sudden we are going to insult people for conforming? That is so malignant, punishing people for what our culture demands of them.
If someone puts in the effort to know what brands are “basic” they are as captive to branding and consumerism as those they criticize. And those who think going to Starbucks is basic are probably all going to Stumptown. They are conforming, too. It’s not that they are rejecting brand names and consumerism. They are just buying different brands.
It takes a lack of self-awareness to think we don’t conform. We all do, we just conform to different standards from different groups.
This makes me think of John Lennon’s song, Working Class Hero.
They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules
Working Class Hero is something to be
So in one sense, we are all basic.
OK, maybe Stephen Hawking and Lady Gaga are not basic, but it’s a rarefied few who can legitimately claim not to be basic in the sense that folks are using the term to insult each other.
Except that we are not basic. We all have depths that we do not share with the entire world. What people see as basic is the top coat that camouflages how very extraordinary we are. That’s why the insult is so shallow. It accepts people at face value as though they are only what we perceive. That is stupid. Each and every one of us knows we are more complex than what people see, so how silly are we to think everyone else is only what we see.
So stop calling people basic – and definitely stop calling people basic bitches. It just makes you look…basic.
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