I once read an interview with a recording artist in which she claimed she never went to McDonald’s or read Heat because “it’s so bad to be basic”.
Basic is an interesting word – so evocative and yet covers a lot of bases. And a lot of basics.
I find it yucky, but I’m nothing if not a massive hypocrite and have, of course, used it myself here and there. Yet I still puzzle over its meaning. It does seem it’s a byword for poor, or less fortunate, or less cultured or not as well-educated.
Well, I’m calling out all you faux-sophisticated drones. Use “basic” as a shortcut for poor or uneducated or liking ‘simple’ things? Think that by being ‘extra’ or glamorous, you can escape it?
Beware: the real basic is you.
Hold on to your middle-class ironic jumbo hot dogs; some real talk is heading your way. Here are 33 things that are the true barometer of basic:
1. Congratulating yourself for living in the “cultural melting pot of London”…
…yet moving to some zone 3 wasteland full of white people with Bugaboo prams and a high street stacked with Bill’s, Byron and Pizza Express.
2. Going gluten-free for no apparent reason.
3. Eating a posh burger piled to the ceiling with ironic cheeses and weird sauces called “hickory smoke salsa jus” and paying £15 for the privilege.
4. Thinking that eating junk food is OK as long as it’s served in a series of jars in a place called “Rude Dude Food” and eaten ironically by people with mortgages. But if you saw a fat person in a tracksuit eating it at a bus stop, of course, that would not be “OK”.
5. Expressing fake angst at having a cleaner.
If it mortifies you that much, give him or her the day off. And when they are cleaning for you, stop trying to “understand” them or talk to them about their lives. They merely want to get on with cleaning your dreary warehouse conversion and GTFO.
6. Walking around Lidl and marvelling at the selection of hors d’oeuvres, trilling: “And so inexpensive!”
Because the word “cheap” chokes you harder than a rent boy during a strangle-sank. Why? It’s cheap! That’s the point! Who are you trying to impress?
7. Carefully circling anything in Time Out’s “Cheap Eats” or “Secret London!” feature that they run every two weeks. It’s OK to eat cheaply – sorry, inexpensively – if you’re doing it because a magazine tells you, rather than having to budget because you’re poor. Cool, I get it.
8. Wincing as you say “grande” or “venti” in Starbucks.
It’s OK, you’re not at school any more; nobody is going to laugh at you for using a word the barista actually understands.
9. Posting a picture of your Starbucks cup upon which the barista, probably not a native English speaker, has incorrectly spelled your no-doubt-basic name.
10. Signing petitions against Starbucks or Costa opening in your area.
Even though your “local independent coffee shop” is staffed by the rudest people you have ever met in your entire life.
11. Claiming you’re “off carbs”.
Usually while clutching your tiny hips or your 24″ waist and telling people how fat you are.
12. Pretending “American carnival food” is in any way an acceptable – or real – culinary genre.
13. Dismissing Eurovision as kitsch or “gay Christmas”.
14. Calling secondhand clothes “vintage”. Like there is some weird shame about shopping in charity shops. But no, of course, it’s OK when you do it; you’re not a “povvo”.
15. Calling someone a “chav” or “povvo”.
16. Worrying that you might look “common” or vulgar” rather than just going ahead and having a good time.
17. Labelling anything a “guilty pleasure”. If you like it, you like it. Who’s here to make you feel guilty? Your other basic friends? Get new ones.
18. Thinking you’re any better than anyone else just because your favourite magazine contains only three lines of copy and has a print run of 77. And, yes, it may be printed on ‘vintage’ (old) paper and fold out into a hexagon, but a copy of Now is easier to read on the bus, which I’m sure you take ironically every now and again.
19. Going to a wedding and, while there, criticising any part of it whatsoever. It’s their day, not yours. Save your critiques for your blog.
20. Demanding an end to gentrification the very second you move to an area that attracted you only because it has itself been massively gentrified.
You’re frightened there won’t be at least one takeaway or grotty corner shop you can’t enjoy ironically.
21. Saying, “Get in the sea”.
22. Mentioning gin in your Twitter bio.
23. Reappropriating traditionally working-class junk food like a Scotch egg or a sausage roll and making it organic or 100% meat and then flogging it on a stall at some bullshit market.
24. Watermarking a meme so it won’t be stolen.
Then stealing a meme.
25. Dismissing a genuine debate or argument as a “Twitterstorm” in an attempt to devalue it or shut it down.
Twitter can be stupid, hysterical, myopic and incredibly reactionary, but sometimes it is right.
26. Retweeting trolls.
It’s the new retweeting praise, but now with added “u ok hun?”
27. Doing somewhere up for a “buy-to-let”. Yes, it is terrible that rents are going up and people are being priced out of areas they’ve lived in for years, isn’t it? Oh well. You gonna knock through and make a diner-kitchen? Thought so.
28. Krispy Kremes “in the usual place” in the office. Extra points for making a big show of eating one because it’s “naughty” or “trashy” or a “carb overload” like anyone would care if you burst into flames right now.
29. “Bring me bacon.”
30. Stopping going to bars or restaurants because they’re “too popular” now.
Yeah, you liked the food but you risk looking uncool or out of touch and we can’t have that, for some inexplicable reason. Maybe you’re 10.
31. Screenshotting people less attractive or eloquent than you on Tinder.
32. Laughing at people who go on Jeremy Kyle.
Or indeed being Jeremy Kyle.
33. Slating any article that features a GIF or a list and bemoaning they’re “killing journalism”.
Or boring everyone senseless with your excellent musings about the “BuzzFeedification” of popular culture. If you don’t like articles with GIFs in, maybe write your own. I look forward to reading it.
(Basic is not a thing. Just be who you are and mind your own business.)