I can’t be the first to point this out, Fiona Duncan, but doesn’t your NYMag piece confuse #Normcore with #ActingBasic, a separate K-Hole concept? Dressing neutral and normy so you don’t stand out is #ActingBasic. #Normcore means you pursue every activity like you’re a fanatic of the form. It doesn’t really make sense to identify Normcore as a fashion trend – the point of normcore is that you could dress like a NASCAR mascot for a big race and then switch to raver-wear for a long druggy night at the club. It’s about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation. As K-hole puts it, “You might not understand the rules of football, but you can still get a thrill from the roar of the crowd at the World Cup. Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness. BUT INSTEAD OF APPROPRIATING AN AESTHETICIZED VERSION OF THE MAINSTREAM [i.e. Acting Basic], IT JUST COPS TO THE SITUATION AT HAND.” I’m raising this because Acting Basic, while certainly a recognizable trend, isn’t that new or exciting of a concept. Normcore, on the other hand – the real version – is genuinely new and consequential. Normcore describes personalities, not clothes. Its icon is not Preston Chaunsumlit, it’s James Franco.
Acting Basic,a temptation to which the best of us sometimes succumb, is snotty and superseded – the bad old days of downtown cool. Normcore is what comes after: fresh, pozzy, net-native, living every day as a tourist, unbothered by the politics of appropriation – and probably a little naive about politics in general. It really is a profound and illuminating concept, but it’s sad to think that during its viral moment it’s been reinterpreted into something pedestrian and regressive.