By Anna Bottrell
Danielle Bregoli is a human meme: the ultimate form of objectification. The 14 year old’s claim to fame is one threatening utterance of mimic AAVE , “cash me ousside, how bow dah”, 1 said on Dr. Phil. A crowd of golden aged women hissed and booed at this narrowly post-tweenage rebel, sitting in beige solidarity with their mustachioed patriarch.
Dr. Phil is a simple concept. Somebody asked, “How do we make Maury Povich less trashy?”, and in popped the doctor with his degree and expertise in mental health, to alleviate the guilt of the viewers. If he flicks his wrist at the end of the episode, sending Danielle to equine therapy, then the viewers can feel absolved of their guilt. They are supporting a benevolent enterprise, not Maury, but Maury Lite.
Danielle appeared on the episode entitled, “I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime”.
Following her initial notoriety, she has attempted to independently develop her public persona via social media. Additionally, she has forayed into rap. Performing under the nom de guerre ‘Bhad Bhabie”, she released the single “These Heaux”, with two follow-up tracks. She is now signed with Atlantic Records.
Reaction videos to her songs are scattered across youtube, where one can find vloggers with their engines revved, ready to pancake this young girl’s dream of self-reinvention.
Rather than turning up our noses at a girl who was exploited by her family rather than placed inconspicuously in therapy, we should attempt to take this issue with greater objectivity and distance.
On Dr. Phil, teen rebellion is a gendered activity. The episodes of this show featuring troubled young men are generally centered around drug use or violence, issues that their feminine counterparts often deal with as well, but the the teens receive radically different treatments. These are some titles of episodes that have aired since the infamous ‘cash me outside’ episode : “Our 21-Year-Old Daughter Is Gorgeous, Wild and Violent”, “My Beautiful 34 Daughters Accuse Me of Being a Controlling, Manipulative Father”, “Beautiful Missing Teen: The Phone Call, the Chase, the Dramatic Conclusion”, “Drinking Since 18, 3 DUIs by 21, Passed Out by the Side of the Road: My Beautiful Daughter Needs Rehab Now!”, “ Police Called 100 Times on Our Car-Stealing, Drug-Taking, Dad-Beating, Beautiful 15-Year-Old, Who Is Now Corrupting Her Younger Sister”, “My Head-Butting, Furniture-Throwing 9-Year-Old Daughter Looks Like an Angel but Behaves Like a Wild Child: Who’s to Blame for Her Behavior?, “Beautiful, Privileged, Addicted, Homeless … and Pregnant!”, “Help! My Beautiful Teen Daughter Is Living in a Motel With Two Strangers”.
The bodies of these women are commented on, even if the woman in question is 9 years old or a kidnapping victim.
The episodes that feature a man typically have titles like this: “Our Son Is on the Run From the Law so He Can Become a Rock Star”, or “Young, Smart and out of Control: Our 17-Year-Old Son Is Facing 2 DUIs and Prison!”.
The only ones I found that comment on the bodies or sexualities of men are “Bad Boy Blake With Abs of Steel: Can Dr. Phil Break Through His Cold Heart?”, “My Handsome Reality TV Star Ex and Father of My Son Thinks He’s God’s Gift to Women”, and arguably “My Brother Changed His Name to Sexy Vegan, Wears Speedos in Public, and Is Spending My Mom’s 11 Million Dollar Inheritance”.
Additionally, this exploitation takes a twist when one realizes that the target viewing audience of Dr. Phil is women . This implies that Dr. Phil is not calling the girls “beautiful” to appease viewers who watch daytime tv for a flash of breasts, unless his secret business plan is to draw in as many lesbians as possible.
The women watching Dr. Phil apparently aren’t interested in being titillated by men, either, with perhaps the exception of Blake’s abs of steel. In actuality, the mentions of bodies and sex are included for pandering towards the “good girl gone bad” trope, the Madonna-whore complex, the idea that sexuality is not moral for women.
Danielle Bregoli falls victim to this as well, with “twerking” listed as one of her major crimes, apparently shocking enough to rival “car-stealing” and “knife-wielding”.
In the video for her song “Hi Bich”, Bhad Bhabie wears a wedding dress, her hands folded in mocking piety. Her smirk implores us, “Is this what you prefer?”. Do we find the image of her as a dutiful child bride more or less disturbing than the image of her twerking?
Teenage rebellion is a rite of passage that many of us, men and women, squirm through on our journeys to independence. It should not be gendered. Why are women drawn to judge each other by these constructed standards, to mock and jeer at developing sexualities?
If you can stomach it, go ahead and crucify these girls on t-back thongs. However, at Hoochie, we are more concerned with knife-wielding than twerking.