In Defense of the Basic Bitch
Apr 10 2014
A culture war is raging in America, but not the one you see being waged on Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. That neverending conflict has an unintended casualty, a victim that neither side truly wants to champion. This much-maligned minority group needs our respect and our affection. Of course, I am talking about the infamous "Basic Bitch."
The Basic Bitch is denigrated in music videos and hip-hop lyrics. She's defamed on Twitter merely for requesting a simple kindness:
"A back rub sounds amazing right now." says every basic bitch who has a twitter— Court Wanderscheid (@Shortneyy) April 10, 2014
Urban Dictionary, the final arbiter of cultural relevancy, defines the Basic Bitch in a variety of ways. The most accurate explanation is as follows:
- Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
- Lacking intelligence and unable to socialize on even an elementary level.
- Annoyingly frustrating because of the above.
What specifically makes one Basic? Not understanding irony or sarcasm, constantly needing to be cloying and sincere, enjoying xoJane articles, reading books about feng shui, checking horoscopes, French-tip fingernails, gladiator sandals, John Mayer, Glee reruns, and Michael Buble are all pretty Basic.
Only recently has being Basic become such a social faux pas that videos have to be made to shame them out of existence. It wasn't always a crime to like fast food and How I Met Your Mother. It's become a form of gag reflex to immediately trash those brave enough to be completely and hopelessly square, but American culture is littered with Basics. Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch was a massive Basic whose sole purpose on the show was to be a fucking nag. Dinah Shore found a way to make hosting a variety show Basic. If you can believe it, there was a time when Julia Roberts was the biggest movie star in the world, and she might as well have "Basic Bitch" tattooed on her forehead (backwards, so she can read it in the mirror, of course).
There's always been an American counterculture, but historically, it's existed in seedy bars, gutters, and alleyways—hidden from the sensitive eyes of the Basic Bitch. Weird movies like Eraserhead and Pink Flamingos had to be screened in dangerous neighborhoods, far from the mainstream society they openly mocked. New York City, America's center for art and culture, was abandoned by Basics in the 1960s, and they didn't come back until Giuliani started busting heads and cracking down.
Now America is drastically different. Everyone can feel safe within their own tiny subculture. The lunatic fringe and the rabble-rousers can organize online. Wearing glasses and being into weird shit is encouraged. Basics are relegated to the margins (a.k.a. the suburbs). Where exactly did it all take a sharp left turn? The 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, and one provocative kiss by a young girl from Louisiana named Britney Spears.
Britney Spears is the Alpha and Omega of Basic Bitches. This may strike the casual observer as counterintuitive. After all, Britney is known for her predilection for lewd public behavior and equally voracious penchant for personal instability. Having a garden-variety mental illness is not enough to disqualify one from being Basic. In fact, Britney is the great martyr for the cause of Basic-dom.
In 1999, "...Baby One More Time" catapulted young Britney to the top of the pop charts all over the world. Her fame seemed instant. The American media machine shit her out fully formed. She was wholesome, blond, buxom (but not too buxom), and from the South. Her boyfriend was equally as Basic, and they swore they were as chaste as humanly possible at all times. Her singing voice was completely generic, yet also eerily distinctive. Who else could be so bland, so beige, so lacking in anything resembling musical texture? It's Britney, bitch.
Her contemporaries all tried to steal the crown, but to no avail. Christina Aguilera had a superior voice but a foreign-sounding name. Jessica Simpson looked like a high school quarterback's fuck-bucket just like Britney, but she was too curvy and too threateningly sensual. Fellow Britney-clone Willa Ford literally sang about how much of a slut she was.
Only Britney Spears could reign supreme, because all the things that made her rivals special she lacked in spades. She was so fucking dull that we couldn't take our eyes off her. It's like seeing a really shitty painting of a lake in a truck-stop diner. Your mind starts to fixate on how anyone could make something so aggressively average without it being on purpose.
You must remember that the rise of Britney Spears directly coincides with the last gasp of generic American mass culture. The internet had yet to carve us up into easily chewable demographic morsels. This was an era when Abercrombie & Fitch—the company that still goes out of its way to exclude weirdos, fatties, uggos, minorities, and mutants—was the epitome of cool. George W. Bush told the country that it was A-OK to be really corny and willfully fratty. "The President you most want to have a beer with" could only happen in a time ruled by Basics.
It wasn't until the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards that the carefully constructed facade known as Basic Britney began to collapse. Brit's infamous kiss with Madonna was a loud, clanging hammer blow to her image as a boring person. Never again would being truly dull be seen as a virtue. The simple act of kissing another (more famous) woman on national TV swung the proverbial door open for the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and all of their respective imitators.
From that kiss there was no turning back. Britney Spears married white-trash messiah Kevin Federline, starred in a comically terrible reality show about said union, shaved her head, released a weird yet beloved album, went crazy, and checked into a mental facility. Maybe the pressure of being so fucking Basic was a bigger burden than her milquetoast shoulders could carry? Perhaps Britney was never Basic in the first place and merely hid that deep down she was 100 percent ratchet? We'll never know, but from 2003 to 2007, Basic Britney was as hard to find as Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
When Britney finally came out of the hospital and got her shit together in 2008, the world had changed. Her throne wasn't even available to reclaim. Abercrombie & Fitch is now the punchline to more nostalgic jokes than even George W. Bush. Pop stars routinely commit sociopathic, bizarre acts with the explicit purpose of remaining relevant in a society that demands they keep the general public from getting bored. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all a constant call to be as outrageous as possible. A black dude who smokes cigarettes is President of the United States. Shit is crazy.
And yet, the only way for Britney Spears to remain sane is to be Basic again. She provided a song for the fucking Smurfs 2 soundtrack. She talks about raising her kids and not wanting to be forced into taking advantage of her sex appeal. She's doing a residency in Las Vegas, the most Basic city of them all. It's a place where you can get away with wearing khaki shorts almost year-round and everyone seems like they're pasty enough to be from Iowa. If she didn't get back in the Basic box, she might be dead right now.
The insanity arms race typified by Lindsay Lohan's moronic reality show, Miley Cyrus's rubbing her coochie on everything, and Rihanna's flirting with the notion of reuniting with her abuser is the new normal. We can't return to the time when having absolutely nothing to offer society was a virtue.
Contrary to the way in which the world is moving, that's not a good thing. We need Basics. They're the ones that stay grounded, who do the important work we're all too crazy to focus on. Some of the most influental women of all time were unabashedly Basic.
Also, if no one is Basic, then what the fuck is the point of being weird? Nothing is shocking if no one is mediocre. The war to be the most fucked up is a losing battle, because the number of taboos we have left is getting smaller and smaller. It was cool when Britney Spears made out with Madonna because it flew in direct opposition to what we thought we knew about Britney. Miley Cyrus had to be a shitty teen star in order to make simulated public fucking a newsworthy event. Would anyone have wanted to see Amanda Bynes's tits if she weren't on Nickelodeon first?
Goddamnit, the world would be a sadder place without Basic Bitches. Instead of taking them to task for their interest in not being interesting, perhaps we should encourage them more. I say to all Basics, please continue pouring ranch dressing on all of your meals, thinking it's OK to wear flip-flops to places other than the beach, TiVo-ing American Idol, doing Borat impressions at parties, and not having a sense of humor. The rest of the world thanks you for your service.
Follow Dave Schilling on Twitter.
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