A Eulogy for the Word "Basic" (2000–2014), Because the Time Has Come to Put It Six Feet Under
Friends, family members, Lauren Conrad: Thank you for joining us here today as we deliver the word Basic to its final resting place. Basic's last year on earth was an active one: After beginning life in the late '00s as a phrase from hip-hop culture describing one who fronts as a cool person but is actually a loser, Basic finally decided that 2014 would be her year.
And it was — this year, Basic captivated us all as a simple way to describe the personalities and aesthetics of women drawn to Uggs, Sex and the City, inspirational quotes incorrectly attributed to Marilyn Monroe, skinny margaritas, "sweater weather," and other cultural signifiers of mediocre taste. Oh, and also, pumpkin-flavored sh*t. Lots and lots of pumpkin-flavored sh*t.
But do not cry for Basic now, for she has gone on to a better place. A place where there is no pain; a place where there are no carbs; a place where everyone gets to be the "Charlotte" of the group, and everyone wears pink on Wednesdays.
Spring saw the term finally reach the peak of its power, with all sorts of publications rushing out to define the meaning of Basic and make cases both against and for her. College Humor helped spread the gospel of Basic with a wildly popular video about the term. I will now screen this video, to help us all remember Basic in happier times. Boxed Set of Felicity DVDs, would you mind getting the lights?
Seeing her in that video, so lively and full of promise, it's hard to believe that we wouldn't have another 30 years with Basic, years in which she would help us mock our own tendency to wear summer-weight scarves and sweatpants with "funny" sayings across the butt, or help us critique that one friend from college who buys those scented candles with the fake diamond rings inside. We thought we had nothing but decades of happiness ahead.
Yet in our rush and enthusiasm to identify the Basic in the wild and admit that we all have our own moments of basicness, we missed the signs. Even as she peaked, Basic was already beginning to fade away from us. Over the course of the fall — Basic's favorite season —not only was she a subject of derision for everyone from sassy pre-teens to RuPaul to Vice magazine; many women spoke about how the term "basic" was degrading — yet another way to excuse casual misogyny, act classist, and create frivolous reasons to take women less seriously.
And by the time that autumn's last latte Instagram had been liked, we reached a cultural consensus that making fun of "basicness" was the most basic thing you could possibly do.
While we were wound up in our own egos, trying to decide Basic's fate, she began slipping away from us on her own. She was showing up drunk for work with stains on her yoga pants; she forgot to pre-order the new Taylor Swift album; she was giving away her autographed copy of Eat, Pray, Love; she was getting forcibly ejected from the North Face outlet store for disruptive behavior. Like so many before us, we did not see the signs because we did not want to; we did not know what was happening until it was too late, and Basic was gone.
But do not cry for Basic now, for she has gone on to a better place. A place where there is no pain; a place where there are no carbs; a place where everyone gets to be the "Charlotte" of the group and everyone wears pink on Wednesdays.
And so, let us not mourn Basic, but celebrate the five minutes in which the whole thing seemed kind of like a fun and pleasantly self-deprecating way to make fun of our own tastes, not when it became creepy and sexist and mean. Basic never wanted to be mean. Basic strove to emulate her humanitarian hero, Audrey Hepburn, and fight for kindness and civility wherever she went. Let us keep Basic in our hearts every time we want to make a snarky comment about someone who is obsessed with Starbucks, or owns a picture frame that says "Live Laugh Love."
Basic had a chaotic year, but I think this is how she would have wanted to go: gently, with very little fuss, while everyone was preoccupied with watching Love, Actually and drinking chestnut praline lattes.
We will never forget you, Basic. You were gone too soon, but also kind of not gone soon enough. May peace be with you.
The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers or donations, mourners simply put on some jeggings and watch Friends at home.