By now, we all know what it means to be a basic bitch. The internet has exhausted the term and its associated cultural trends to such a degree that we might have reached peak basic, the moment when the world can get none more basic and we all just have to stop talking about it. In this period of basic saturation, we decided that it’s time to find the ultimate basic—to choose who will lord over the secret Cape Cod bunker that holds a large cache of capri pants, pumpkin spice lattes, rocket launchers, cases of white wine, Norah Jones CDs, crossbows, M-16s, B-vitamins, Voss water, paperback copies of The Goldfinch, and kale chips in case of an attack on America.
To do that, we asked three expert judges to join our Ultimate Basic Bitch panel: Big Freedia, bounce music icon and a queen in her own right; Julie Klausner, comedian and host of the “How Was Your Week" podcast; and VICE staff writer Dave Schilling. After a painstaking process of elimination, we believe we found the Ultimate Basic Bitch. From 32, there can be only one Queen of Basics.
GWYNETH PALTROW VS. KATE HUDSON –In pre-tournament office surveys, Gwyneth was a strong favorite, thanks to her very posh, very normal life and her penchant for wearing beige. Kate has the sort of face that belongs in a Sears catalogue, but she’s also showbiz royalty and was married to the guy from the Black Crows (weird). She barely skates into this tournament.
WINNER: Gwyneth Paltrow (2 to 1)
Big Freedia says: “Oh God, Gwyneth. Her voice puts me to sleep.”
ANNE HATHAWAY VS. BLAKE LIVELY – Anne Hathaway dated a grifter, which is not basic. But public opinion is not in her favor right now. Women find her very, very annoying and bland. In 2012, Blake Lively was named one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful at Every Age.” We hope she’s ready to win yet another prestigious award.
WINNER: Anne Hathaway (2 to 1)
Big Freedia says: “Don’t know who either of ‘em are.”
JULIA ROBERTS VS. KATIE HOLMES – Julia has made a successful career out of being relatable to normal people. My Best Friend’s Wedding might be the ultimate basic movie (other than Maid in Manhattan). On the other hand, Katie Holmes’s most well-known film role is the generic doomed love interest in a Batman film—which she didn’t even get to film the death scene for, because she abdicated from the part before the filming of The Dark Knight.
WINNER: Katie Holmes (2 to 1)
Dave Schilling says: “Had to go with Katie Holmes. Marrying Lyle Lovett is somehow less boring than marrying Tom Cruise.”
JENNIFER ANISTON VS. MICHELLE WILLIAMS [WHITE] – Michelle is the Ledger widow, which automatically makes her a dubious choice for this competition. She’s here anyway. Deal. Jennifer Aniston is Jennifer Aniston.
WINNER: Jennifer Aniston (3 to 0)
Julie Klausner says: “Jennifer Aniston, because basic bitches across this crapland still ask for her haircut.”
POP STARS REGION
BRITNEY SPEARS VS. RITA ORA – Britney singlehandedly made carrying a Starbucks cup while wearing sweatpants cool, but also lost her mind in 2007. Losing your mind is not basic. Rita Ora looks fairly wacky, but that also appears to be a bit of a put-on for the sake of alt cred.
WINNER: Rita Ora (2 to 1)
Julie Klausner says: “Rita Ora, by far. If her name weren’t so close to ‘Ore-Ida' I wouldn’t even remember her. I just pay attention to things that might be potatoes.”
MICHELLE WILLIAMS [BLACK] VS. AVRIL LAVIGNE – It’s been hard enough for Michelle these past few years. At least let her win THIS. Avril is married to the lead singer of Nickelback, though it appears they’re about to call it quits. Admitting a mistake is not the same as avoiding making that mistake in the first place.
WINNER: Michelle Williams—the Black One from Destiny’s Child (3 to 0)
Dave Schilling says: “I wanted to vote for Avril but picked Michelle just because her advancing on a unanimous vote made me laugh.”
CARRIE UNDERWOOD VS. HILARY DUFF – These days, “country music icon” is code for “basic.” Yeah, you knew Carrie would be here. If you don’t understand why Hilary Duff is basic, then we question why you are even reading this article.
WINNER: Hilary Duff (2 to 1)
Big Freedia says: “Hilary Duff. She Disney.”
KELLY CLARKSON VS. JESSICA SIMPSON – Kelly Clarkson is like a living, breathing bowl of marshmallows. Jessica Simpson, on the other hand, has a hard-won reputation for ruining football teams with her vagina.
WINNER: Kelly Clarkson (3 to 0)
Julie Klausner says: “Kelly Clarkson, I guess, but if it were Ashlee Simpson vs. Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee would be the basic-est, with a lip-sync jig to match.”
PUBLIC FIGURE/MISC. REGION
KATE MIDDLETON VS. CASEY ANTHONY – Kate Middleton truly is Her Royal Basicness. She is so tasteful that if she showed up in a Katy Perry music video, it would immediately get nominated for a Peabody Award. You might be asking yourself what Casey Anthony is doing in this tournament. She was accused of murdering her daughter, and during her trial, photos of her setting the Orlando nightlife scene on fire were released to the public. I hear your complaints, but every tournament needs an underdog.
WINNER: Kate Middleton (2 to 1)
Julie Klausner says: “Kate Middleton! Obviously! Casey Anthony murdered her daughter! Kate Middleton wears hats! This is not a fair bracket.”
ELISABETH HASSELBECK VS. LAUREN CONRAD – Elisabeth probably owns stock in Lululemon. Still waiting for LC to display any actual talent. Being famous despite a clear lack of charisma is very basic.
WINNER: Lauren Conrad (2 to 1)
Julie Klausner says: “Lauren Conrad. Hasselbeck is hateful human toilet garbage; Conrad is beige in the form of a person.”
SHERYL SANDBERG VS. KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN – Sheryl Sandberg is a strong, successful woman brought down by how inspiring she is to people who share inspirational memes on Facebook. It’s really not her fault. I’m sorry, Sheryl. Facing off against her is Kourtney Kardashian. Imagine being the least interesting Kardashian. Imagine.
WINNER: Kourtney Kardashian (2 to 1)
Julie Klausner says: “Again, not fair. Kourtney is obviously more basic. Just because Sheryl Sandberg knows what Mark Zuckerberg likes on his salad doesn’t mean her accomplishments need to dissipate in the shadow of a reality star.”
PIPPA MIDDLETON VS. SURI CRUISE – Could we get a mother/daughter showdown in the final? Could we get two sisters in the final four? Can a child who can’t legally drive a hybrid actually be basic?
WINNER: Pippa Middleton (3 to 0)
Big Freedia says: “Pippa, for sure. Suri’s gonna have all kinds of issues.”
AUDREY HEPBURN VS. MOTHER TERESA – The Bob Marley of female celebrities, in that most college girls have her poster on their dorm room wall. Mother Teresa is perfect and good in every way.
WINNER: Audrey Hepburn (2 to 1)
Julie Klausner says: “Audrey Hepburn. Major snooze, and responsible for Upper East Side basic bitches in little black dresses who date sociopaths from Goldman Sachs just because, one day, they want to buy a really expensive stroller.”
EVA BRAUN VS. SHIRLEY TEMPLE – Gotta be a real beta personality to date the most evil man in history.
WINNER: Eva Braun (3 to 0)
Dave Schilling says: “Eva Braun!”
OLIVA NEWTON JOHN VS. SUSAN BOYLE – Olivia is in this tournament strictly for “Let’s Get Physical,” both the song and the accompanying music video tragedy. We weep for Susan Boyle.
WINNER: Susan Boyle (3 to 0)
Dave Schilling says: “I dreamed a dream that Susan Boyle would win this tournament. Don’t sleep on SuBo!”
JULIE ANDREWS VS. JULIA CHILD – This matchup is kinda like Bosnia vs. Iran in the FIFA World Cup group stage. We just need to get it over with.
WINNER: Julie Andrews (2 to 0, with one abstention)
Julie Klausner says: “Neither one of these bitches are basic! I refuse to vote!”
Continue to Round 2
Everyone’s Losing Their Shit About a Nail Polish That Detects Date Rape Drugs
A lot people on the internet are dumb. This we can take for granted. But dig a little deeper, and behind your standard pickup artist or generic troll you’ll find another, more considered, breed of moron. These people are not hastily brainstorming which tabloid journalist’s tired career to revive via an onslaught of illegible sexist drivel; instead they see themselves as campaigners for social justice. These internet vigilantes are intent on scrubbing the world clean of anything remotely offensive to absolutely anyone anywhere. They make cartoons like this. They are the human equivalent of a red correcting pen.
I’m pointing this out because of nail varnish, weirdly. More specifically, a nail varnish that some North Carolina college students are developing that will enable people to dip their fingers into drinks and find out if they’ve been suddenly transformed into a Rohypnol on the rocks. This is a pretty “whatever” idea as long as you’re cool with using your finger to mix your drink—which to be honest most of us are because it’s often halfway down our throats trying to bring up the eight shots of tequila we knew weren’t a good idea for a weeknight. Unfortunately, the invention has been hit with a barrage of fury from across the internet, and I’m not completely sure why.
This is not an unbelievably earth-shattering concept. Nobody has suggested installing microchips into immigrants that explode when their visas expire, or mandatory mood rings for people with bipolar disorder. Sure, there are a bunch of issues at play, particularly whether this product could potentially encourage the dangerous idea that a woman who isn’t wearing it is putting herself at risk. But a hyper-awareness of that kind of horribly sexist, victim-blaming mentality should not stop research into products that simply make you feel safer in a situation where you may otherwise have felt vulnerable or concerned.
Basically I think this idea is a) fine and b) nowhere near as problematic as the UK government’s rape awareness posters that featured a (unforgivable phrase alert) “scantily-clad” woman with mascara dripping down her face.
A Womb of Her Own: DIY Abortion and Birth Control After Hobby Lobby
On Tuesday, I was wandering around the internet and fell into a random binder full of women, which it turns out is a great place to meet badass genius revolutionaries. Jane Doe is adoula and an underground abortion provider. She writes romance novels, dreams of expatriation, and makes the best sea-salt caramels you’ve ever had. She’s spoken at statehouses and chased down riot cops. In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision that corporations like Hobby Lobby are people with important religious beliefs about contraception (and that men need Viagra but women don’t need birth control), she released a DIY guide to the basics of abortion, birth control, emergency contraception, and more. We got together in a hidden pocket of the binder so I could ask her for the details.
VICE: Why did you write this guide?
Jane Doe: That’s a complicated question. About ten years ago, I wrote a guide to surgical abortions after South Dakota banned all abortions in that state. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been receiving—at least once a month or so—emails from desperate women who find my surgical abortion how-to and want to abort their pregnancies. For a long time, I didn’t know what to tell them, and then I found out more about medical abortion—how safe it is (especially compared to birth), how women are undergoing medical abortions at home, in privacy, and how there’s a law that lets anyone in the United States import up to 90 days of any non-scheduled prescription drug.
From there, I started actually giving away the pills to women who emailed me—a proposition that became both expensive and incredibly (legally) risky.
Then I started sending them URLs to websites that sold the pills—which is when I thought, Wait, what am I doing? I could be letting people know all of this information, everything I know about how to find these medications, how to use them, what to do if something goes wrong.
I think this information belongs to women. It’s ours. And now it’s out there. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to scrub.
Were you inspired by the Supreme Court decision or was the timing purely coincidental?
I’d been working on A Womb of One’s Own for about six months in total, and like many writers tend to do, I found myself procrastinating toward the end of the project. When the Hobby Lobby decision came down, and I realized the Supreme Court wasn’t actually saying that all religious expression was protected—just things pertaining to women’s health—I dropped everything else on my plate and finished the pamphlet that day.
The Trouble with Girls
Being a girl sucks—according to the media at least. There’s the thigh gap, Miley Cyrus, thehounding, the grooming, and the online abuse. Even Germaine Greer claimed recently that in the age of social media, women have it worse than they did in the 1970s.
But are things really that bad? In her new book, Girl Trouble, social historian and professor Carol Dyhouse argues that, although life’s always been pretty shitty for girls, it’s actually getting better. According to Dyhouse, without looking back at stereotypes and the way things were for women a century ago, it is impossible to understand the scope of the progress achieved by women’s liberation movements.
I caught up with Carol to talk about all the things that have made us the drinking, swearing, loose, career-driven women that we are.
VICE: Hi Carol, how did you get started with Girl Trouble?
Carol: I’ve had a very long career teaching and researching women’s history and I wanted to bring it all together. History hasn’t been kind to girls. They’ve been underestimated and misrepresented. It’s hard to find out what was happening to them and how they felt about it. There’s always been masses of people all too ready to speak for girls, but it’s harder to get young women speaking for themselves, especially as you go back in time to the late Victorian period or the early half of the 20th century.
So the problem is that the people who were recording history are mostly male?
Definitely. A good example is the British Medical Journal—you’d think this was quite a reputable source and yet what they say is quite shocking. They’re so quick to stereotype. In an article published in 1946, just after the war, one psychologist wrote; “They [good-time girls] spend a great deal of time on making up their faces and adorning themselves, although they do not trouble to wash and are sluttish about their undergarments. Their favorite reading matter consists of the weekly journals with the love lives of film stars and they live in a fantasy world of erotic glamor. Frequently, they’re a good deal more intelligent and sophisticated than their parents whom they outwit and despise.” It’s so negative and sexist. What were they so scared about? What I argue in that chapter is that there’s this category of female that was constructed out of male anxiety.
Offline Activism Is the Tricky Part for #YesAllWomen
As with every mass shooting in the last decade, Elliot Rodger sparked a clash of ideologies. This being a misogyny-fueled massacre, instead of the usual gun debate, it provoked a nationwide Twitter war between anti-patriarchy feminists and a bunch of apologist white guys, with most tweets focusing on the fact that while not all men denigrate women, all women are denigrated by men, and culminating in the latest clicktivist hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a strong hashtag, and it has staying power, but does it have the potential to inspire people offline?
When a branch of the American Revolutionary Communist Party concerned with banning pornography for the benefit of women, called StopPatriarchy.com, organized a series of #YesAllWomen rallies in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco, it meant another attempt at turning global social media awareness into community activism, in the hopes that the effort is broadcast somewhere, anywhere. Best case - recursively on social media; worst case - word of mouth. This cyclical advocacy happens fair often with little effect, #BringackOurGirls and #Kony2012 come to mind. Ralph Nader was right, “the Internet doesn’t do a very good job of motivating action.”