Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past month, you’ve probably heard at least something about Danielle Bregoli aka the “Cash Me Ousside” girl. Bregoli began her rise to viral fame in a segment of Dr. Phil where, when confronted about her various misdeeds, challenged the laughing audience to “catch me outside, how about that?” Except she said the phrase in her definitely real “street” accent, so it sounded like, “cash me ousside, howbow dah” and the internet went nuts. The rest is history.
There are a lot of takes about Bregoli out there: the most common perhaps being that it is just time for her to go away. But Buzzfeed recently published one that is indisputably the most idiotic of all.
Before I fully dive in, there’s a fact I want to remind everyone. It’s probably the fact most often forgotten— or at least most ignored: Bregoli’s age. She’s 13-years-old. This is something that Senior Buzzfeed writer Scaachi Koul knows (because she cites the age in her piece) but doesn’t seem to fully comprehend.
Anyway, here are some highlights of Koul’s article:
Bregoli was supposed to come on the show and have the wildness shamed out of her, because there’s something ugly and unnatural about young white women acting out recklessly. She was supposed to learn her “lesson.” But instead, she’s even more turbulent, rejecting her “cautionary tale” status, and she doesn’t care if you don’t like it.
But whiteness is always paramount to [Dr. Phil’s] storylines, which capitalize on the idea that these white girls who could be your daughters are behaving in ways that we don’t associate with white femininity. Being abrasive, rude, or physically violent is not becoming: These girls are an abnormality, so they must be saved.
But first, we have to shame them publicly, make them cry, show videos of their actions and point at them as if to say, “Do you see yourself the way we see you?” Humiliation is fun to gawk at, but the end goal, always, is to cure these young white girls so they can return home and be chaste, sweet, and demure.
There’s one thing in the world that I thought we wouldn’t try to parse by race: the fact that kids are giant assholes. Give me a kid of any color, creed, religion, whatever, and they are probably rude and/or acting out a higher-than-desired percent of the time. I am white, and I spent about 10% of my elementary school career in the principal’s office. So did a lot of kids. Kids suck, kids are assholes, and it’s a good thing when kids start to grow the fuck up.
Koul doesn’t seem to agree:
Had Bregoli’s episode gone the way Dr. Phil was likely hoping, she would have completed the inpatient treatment center he sent her to — Turn-About Ranch, where he sends so many of his out-of-control white teenage girls. The show boasts that most of the teens sent there return rehabilitated and happy. The teens get redemption, and so do their families. Bregoli would have dropped the accent, lost the long nails, stopped cursing and fighting and being angry (even if she has a reason for the latter in particular). She would have acted nicely, the way white teenagers should act. Instead, she became an unexpected hit and has been wielding her personality for profit.
Bregoli knows her role: She’s aggressive and mean and witty and rude. She’s leaning in to the very thing that she was brought on the show to change. Her purpose was to stand still while people laughed at her, until it was time for her to be retrofitted as the Good White Girl. Instead, she’s selling T-shirts and being approached to do reality shows.
Koul clearly approves of Bregoli flipping the table over on Dr. Phil and his “white audience”. To her, it’s a good thing she didn’t reform, and instead doubled down and started profiting off of her insane behavior. It’s a good thing that she didn’t follow the rules and get treatment.
And so, we circle back to something I highlighted before: Bregoli is 13-years-old. Thirteen.
This isn’t about white privilege, or the perception of minority groups on TV, or whatever other insanely complicated issue you want to try to tie down onto some kid from Florida. Bregoli’s war on Dr. Phil and on her parents isn’t some noble campaign against stereotypes in media or traditional expectations placed upon white teenagers. It’s about a teenage brat being a teenage brat, and not getting better — nah, encouraged to get worse!
We should want her to get better. We shouldn’t want her to flip the table. And that’s why Koul’s article is so messed up, because she’s happy to see the table capsize — no matter what costs to Bregoli follow.
We should want kids to learn. We should want kids to grow. We should want kids to get punished and learn from that punishment. When we’re talking about teenage kids acting like punks, getting in line is a good thing. Even if Koul’s arguments about the expectations of white girls in society are true, smugly grinning as a kid gets nailed to the cross of that social problem feels pretty icky to me.
There’s a periphery argument in Koul’s piece; which is that Dr. Phil is a pretty shitty show, and if you’re taking your kid there to deal with their behavioral problems, you’re probably a pretty shitty parent. I don’t disagree on either of those counts. However, aggrandizing the acting-out behavior of a child who just so happens to also be spitting in the face of a sleazy TV personality is still applauding piss-poor behavior.
The true tragedy here is that there is approximately a 99.99% chance that this doesn’t work out for Bregoli. Children who attain stardom via exploitive parents rarely have an easy ride to adulthood, regardless of money attained in the process. What Bregoli is learning from this experience is that there are great rewards for destructive behavior. In her formative years she is being taught that good things happen when you have the public eye — even if it’s for “bad” reasons. And instead of telling her to calm down and grow up, Koul’s article has handed her yet another reason to just keep going.