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Wednesday, December 23, 2015 

Basic: journalism in 2015.

On the evening of Sunday 7 June, an easyJet flight from Bodrum, Turkey landing at Luton airport was met by police who escorted passenger Kate Moss from the plane for disruptive behaviour. The internet discussed little else for days, for this was a story with many talking points.

What were the police wearing when they arrested her?  Did Kate's dress match the plane?  Were those Schindler's Rungleforeskin sunglasses she was wearing?  Exactly how much Shatner's Bassoon fragrance did the police use as a makeshift alternative to CS spray to bring the raging model under control?

But all of that was by the by.  The detail of this story, one that literally changed the entire course of 2015, was the insult Kate threw at the pilot of the plane as she was escorted, kicking, screaming, clawing and foaming from the flight.  She called her a basic bitch, and overnight a hitherto, underground term of abuse hit the mainstream.

How we all roared with laughter at the crushing humiliation the "basic" pilot went through after being tongue lashed by this spoilt, overgrown 41-year-old millionaire brat.  What better way to make clear to such a pleb that the the normal rules clearly don't apply when it comes to a superstar model?

Because Kate is nothing like basic.  Kate is the very opposite of basic.  She smokes, she drinks, she snorts cocaine, she looks increasingly like a 65-year-old who has spent her entire life doing those things, but still all us fashion journalists love her as she is the ultimate get out.  When in doubt, write about Kate.  It's just so very basic.

Basic though has an extremely long heritage.  While difficult to pin down precisely when it was first used as an insult, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's bag-handler, is recorded as describing Catherine of Aragon, the King's first wife, as "being so basic she no doubt still enjoys Chaucer".  Oscar Wilde is believed to be the ultimate progenitor, explaining to a Reading gaol screw on admittance that "I have nothing to declare except my not being basic".  Most famously, rapper Big Dick Dwayne on his track Niggas, Bitches and Being Basic, proclaimed "Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / All you niggas basic too".  More poignantly, Sylvia Plath's final journal entry before she stuck her head in the oven reads simply "Turns out I'm basic after all."

Basic works because it can mean whatever you want it to mean.  Sure, it's mainly used by vacuous, hateful fuckbubbles who imagine themselves better than everyone else because of what they've just bought when compared to what your mum just did, and anyone using it can be effectively written off as even shallower, even snobbier and even more empty a person than whoever it's being directed at, but it can also be thrown at an arrogant, vain man, and then it's perfectly acceptable.  Face it, we all live on a rock where life at best is random, if not completely meaningless, and if we journalists can't encourage our readers to also be self-regarding consumer slaves, then what can we fill space up with?

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