I was talking to a bunch of my Valley Girl friends, and started wondering where the oft-used term “hardcore” comes from. A search at the OED yields a bit from 1851 about stuff used as filler for construction, and parts of fruit, but doesn’t really help me with modern usage of the word to convey the utter rockin’-ness and general radical nature of the thing described.
As a regional narcissist, I suspect that “hardcore” was used to describe pornography, and since porn is one of the Valley’s major exports, we kids couldn’t help picking it up. But I know young people in other places say that things are hardcore, too. What gives?