On the last series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, in a mini challenge, Tia Kofi was declared to be ‘baroness basic’: a title that overshadowed the rest of her performance on the show. By the way, if you don’t know what Ru Paul’s Drag Race is, this article isn’t for you. This article is for those among us who can sing UK Hun off by heart, regardless of whether we are ‘K’ or ‘not’.
Ever since ‘basic’ entered the mainstream as both a vernacular adjective and a noun in the mid-2010s, it has become a way to describe women that are, in essence, the opposite of edgy or chic. They fall into a hyper-feminine stereotype: the kind of women who style themselves off Love Island rejects and listens to the Top 40. In the UK, there have been two local variants of the ‘basic’: the Fiat 500 girl, and, recently, the hun. The Fiat 500 girl drives about in her Fiat, loves a fake tan and always wants a chinese takeaway and a cuddle. The hun is a slightly more niche variant: camp, with a distinct knowledge of 2000 British pop culture. If she wears leopard print in an Instagram post and captions it ‘Kat Slater vibes’, she’s a hun.
It’s blasé to be basic. But, fundamentally, it is an incredibly fun way to live. Being basic means living with fewer cares: instead of worrying about whether it’s still cool to listen to vinyl, a basic girl lives liking what she likes, without caring whether she conforms or whatever. She’s the girl who rosés all day, only to spend the night slut dropping to Britney’s Toxic and getting selfies in front of the Peggy’s neons. She thinks Kate Moss really was saying some biblical truth when she asked ‘why the f*ck can’t I have fun all the time?’
Look, being basic essentially boils down to the decades old argument of avant-garde vs. kitsch. To be kitsch is to have no artistic integrity. It’s a painting of a cat in someone’s living room. But sometimes, a cat is better than some art school shit. Liking basic things is liking the mainstream. And sometimes, the mainstream is correct. While our ancestors before us may have had chicken soup to cure their ills, the basic girl knows that the best cure to any emotional ill is a fake tan, chinese takeaway and a cuddle.
Maybe it’s embarrassing that I’ve tweeted about wanting to look like Molly-Mae, love some avo and iced lattes, want two big old pink helium balloons with my age on for my birthday, watched Gossip Girl so many times that my inner narrative is Kristen Bell’s voice, and genuinely look to horoscopes on a bad day for a little cheer up. But as basic as those facts might make me, I, like my fellow basics, contain multitudes. That is a Walt Whitman quote. My cultural references are often Sex and the City– but I can whip some quotes from 19th century authors too.
Look, maybe people feel joy in their superior tastes, discussing obscure German techno, only watching subtitled movies. And that is fine, great. But truly, there is no such joy as accepting your basicness when it’s prosecco o’clock and Love Island is back on the telly.