Whenever people ask me what show I’m currently watching, I always feel hesitant to reply that it’s “Gilmore Girls.” The last time I told a stranger that, they scoffed at me as if I had just told them I believed the Earth was flat. They never talked to me again, and it led me to wonder what was so off-putting about my preference in television shows. Prior to this encounter, I thought nothing of my addiction every time as I pressed the play button and lost myself in Lorelai and Rory’s escapades. The thing is, regardless of the witty dialogue and colorful characters, a show depicting the lives of two women and their relationships fall into the likes of “Sex and the City” and “Gossip Girl.” I hadn’t realized I didn’t just enter Stars Hollow — I had entered “basic bitch” territory.
Leading expert and rapper Kreayshawn, whose legitimacy as a source was determined by her hit ‘“Gucci Gucci,” explains that the “basic bitch”’ is “just someone who likes what’s typical to like. The radio puts stuff on the radio that they think is typical and you should like it, and that’s something a basic bitch would like. She likes those normal brands and wears them all the time because that’s some basic shit.”
Granted, Kreayshawn is criticizing only those who mindlessly follow trends simply because they’re popular and not because they genuinely like them. They do so to be liked and to gain validation from their peers. However, the term has been applied to anyone who likes mainstream things. As a result, people are being unfairly measured by their preferences in music, film, television and brands.
Suddenly things that are mainstream are taboo, and insinuate that people who like them are vapid and uninteresting. The assumption is that because popular things are so accessible and elementary in nature, it doesn’t take that much effort or intellect to understand or like them. As a result, media that is obscure and convoluted is considered highbrow. This has bred a new kind of person: the insufferable hipster, whose ego is as inflated as Quentin Tarantino’s films.
Initially, I was that person. I exclusively listened to indie and alternative bands with nonsensical names. My Netflix history composed of foreign films and independent films whose soundtracks were made up of songs by Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground. I shopped at thrift stores and cut up my clothing in order to customize them. I genuinely enjoyed everything I did, but as life became more hectic I had less and less time to indulge in obscurity.
Despite my devil-may-care façade, I still had my guilty pleasures: seasonal drinks and flavored lattes; exaggeratedly singing along to Taylor Swift songs; shopping at Forever 21 and H&M; jamming out to the Billboard Top 40 on the way to school; and incorporating quotes from Mean Girls and White Chicks into daily conversation. These are things I’m still guilty of practicing today, except without the shame and secrecy.
I realized that there’s no reason to be ashamed about liking popular things since the stigma about them is totally unfounded. Preference in movies or music isn’t an accurate reflection of who a person is, they’re simply the things that they like. For example, Hitler liked the tranquil art of painting, and look how he turned out. Instead, who a person is should be determined by how they behave and how they treat others. We shouldn’t reduce their worth to fleeting, material things.
Similarly, a product’s ubiquity shouldn’t reduce its value. While some cynical people might call it “selling out” and therefore not art, I think it’s great when many people are brought together by one thing. Isn’t it wonderful how inclusive a song, a movie, a television show, or hell — even a pumpkin spice latte can be? When we share common interests we are more likely to bond, make friends and maybe even become more sympathetic to one another. There’s none of that elitist bullshit that breeds discrimination and resentment.
If life were like high school in a cliched teen movie, the hipsters would be the exclusive group of popular kids who granted membership based on trivial things like the clothes you wore and the music you listened to. Meanwhile, the “basic bitches” would be the crowd who accepted everyone and broke out into song and dance in the style of “High School Musical.”
Now, which one seems more fun to you?