Basic Instinct

“Basic.” It’s a hot word right now – currently being overused to describe an extraordinary amount of young adult females. The basic bitches. As much as I like this general concept, I think there’s a lot of misuse surrounding the word. There needs to be some clarification: What exactly makes a bitch basic? Is it an insult? What is the societal relevance?

Basically – pun intended – what I have gathered is that to call a young woman “basic” is to call her “common.” To me, that’s a whopping insult. To me, that says I am so lacking in unique and illuminating qualities, that I’ve been reduced to another shadowed face among the crowd. For many, that is acceptable – some people aren’t narcissistic attention seekers like me don’t prefer to stand out, and that’s okay. Common is a word that has never sat well with me. Typical. Average. Maybe it’s the trophy generation upbringing once again, but I have never been comfortable with being considered average. Even the word normal hasn’t often been in the cards, but that’s another post for another time.

Well, this scene was anything but basic...
Well, this scene was anything but basic…

To really dive into this social epidemic of “basic,” we need to dissect the qualifications of the basic bitch. This is where the misuse of the word comes into play. The criteria appears to be as simple as possessing a pair of Ugg boots and a penchant for Starbucks. That idea seems too… well, basic. It is acceptable to be somewhat of a corporate consumer in the capitalist society we live in, and to avoid that can be a little impractical as well as inconvenient. I fail to see the correlation between the enjoyment of skinny caramel macchiatos and a chick’s personal style, personality, or intellect… Things we should really be making more of our judgments based on, if we’re going to be judging people, which we usually are.

Does she have fangs? I'm pretty sure she has fangs...
Does she have fangs? I’m pretty sure she has fangs…

We’re throwing out this label to any female we disapprove of, with little to no regard for the meaning. It’s almost like when people use the word “literally” but mean “figuratively” and they aren’t using it ironically – they literally don’t understand what “literally” means. Let’s go deeper. (That’s what she said.) Let’s look at an individual’s substance. Their originality. Their sense of humor. The qualities they bring to the table. Few things are so simple and so black and white. Life is not a Buzzfeed list.

What kind of music do they listen to? Is it strictly overplayed Hot 100 songs? Do they have any taste of their own, or do they unwittingly rely on commercialism and marketing campaigns to tell them what they like? The same goes for movies. Books. Clothes. I suppose we’re just assessing individuality and replaceability. Shouldn’t we all strive to bring something new to the table? To be as wholly ourselves as possible? To be shepherds instead of sheep? To be original?

Maybe wearing a Catholic school uniform for the majority of my life pushed me towards a slightly more eccentric lifestyle. I desired to stand out among the seas of matching skirts and polo shirts. I never really wanted to be another Cathy Jean shoe. The challenge has always seemed to be fitting in without blending in. To be accepted, but striking.

When it comes down to it, I don’t find myself to be a basic bitch, although I doubt very many women do. My lifetime obsessions with things like Sci-Fi, vintage films, and classic rock music set me apart long before I really appreciated being a nomadic individual as opposed to another member of the crowd. I spent a hot minute in the Lord Of The Rings Club in high school, but I didn’t really know enough Elvish for the experience to benefit me. I’ve even ventured toward the other extreme of attempting that platinum blonde hair/ pumpkin orange tan look, and I can’t even begin to tell you what a disaster that was. However, do these qualities sum up who I really am as a person or what kind of person I am? Not in the slightest. I don’t think the determining factors of “basic” do that either.

“Basic” isn’t a moral compass, but more of an original one. Few want to be the extreme Venice Beach Freakshow fighting every ounce of their being to be as unique as possible, while simultaneously exiling themselves from society – so it’s still about finding that balance. Distinguishing yourself while still being socially “acceptable.” It’s sort of tragic.

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Thank you very little

Even after all of this examination, I don’t think the “basic” trend is really doing anyone any favors. If you are basic, you might be unoriginal. If you call someone basic, well, who are you to call someone basic? If nobody was basic, wouldn’t that make it more difficult to be original, and then if everyone were original, would everyone then be basic? And now, so many people are using the term, that “basic” is, in itself, becoming basic. Basically.

Like most things, we should all probably give less of a shit and just do what makes us happy.

Sautter, out.

 

P.S. Here are a couple other great reads that have been sent to me regarding the basic phenomenon:

NY Mag

Vox

4.28.2014

 

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