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Cashing in on bad behavior

A new generation of petulant social media sensations.

%22These+Heaux%22+is+Bhad+Bhabie%27s+first+released+single.

"These Heaux" is Bhad Bhabie's first released single.

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"These Heaux" is Bhad Bhabie's first released single.

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The internet is the birthplace for talentless, undeserving teenagers rising to celebrity-level fame. They — or their entourage of friends — record themselves performing pranks, overreactions or acts of “good deeds” with hopes of having Youtube and Instagram users on their side.

One teenager in particular is no exception; from “Dr. Phil” to Atlantic Records, Danielle Bregoli, or Bhad Bhabie, has commercialized her troubled, teenage outbursts to a level that has allowed her immunity from societal reprimand. Her rap career is taking off on social media, leaving the question: what the hell do we consider worthy of fame?

After yelling on an episode of “Dr. Phil,” “Cash me ousside, how ‘bou dah?” to the show host, she became an instant meme. After being sent to a treatment center for out-of-control teenagers — by the undoubtedly genius psychologist — she threw water at a cameraman, becoming an instantly-viewed YouTube hit.

I haven’t watched “Dr. Phil” for years, but in that moment, it’s like they were both able to take advantage of each other’s fame, right? Dr. Phil chose to air this petulant child, and she rose the rating of the episode to the third best of the season.

Her fiery red hair pops up everywhere on the internet. The 13-year-old took advantage of the popularity that her behavior gave her and bolted with it. I admit that was a smart move; today, the quickest way to commercialize stupidity is to share a video of it with thousands of followers and subscribers. If you use Instagram, you’re no stranger to finding videos of pranks and vandalism with hundreds of thousands of views. You don’t have to agree with them; by just adding to the view count, you’ve helped “Insta-famous” fools make an extra couple of bucks that day.

One scalding Friday afternoon, my better half and I spent about six hours watching music videos on YouTube. I don’t know how it happened, but after watching Nirvana on MTV Unplugged, there she was. I recognized the smug, pale face staring at me with the title underneath, “Danielle Bregoli is BHAD BHABIE – “These Heaux,” with almost five million views.

We gave in and watched it. And another one of her music videos. And her reaction videos to people reacting to her music videos.

It was a mess. She’s become an icon for ten-year-olds who believe that if you’re not making it on social media, you’re not making it at all. It’s a dangerous mindsight. Not everyone can gain this fame, leaving kids wondering how far they’re willing to prove that they’re worthy and, as a result, possibly damage their reputations.

For the record, I understand that I’m contributing to the problem. I watched her videos, adding to the advertisement revenue that she’s pocketing, and discovered the record deal that is causing her net worth to skyrocket to $10 million. In that moment, my reaction was exactly what I’ve been questioning: why is she worth our attention when there is literally so much more that we should be paying attention to?

I guess there are plenty of reasons for this, right? Like watching someone as aggressive and immature as Bregoli makes older viewers automatically put themselves on a self-righteous pedestal. She reminds them of what they refuse to be. Maybe they grew up in a culture that has claimed obedience is the quickest way to success. Or to younger crowds, Bregoli represents a defiance and overpowerment of authority, leaving the impressionable to consider; hey, maybe if I act like a little s**t to my parents on camera, then I can gain more social media popularity and make some money.

And this is where the issue shifts; it’s not simply watching an annoying teenager with a stellar production team behind her, but a growing norm for kids. This norm is the belief that being a delinquent will garner attention, popularity and a steady income.

It’s always been known that people are obsessed with crime, and we are drawn to watching news stations place people in a position of public degradation when they’ve done something illegal. Bregoli’s case is similar; viewers have become fascinated by and even okay with her and other YouTube sensations cussing, destroying property and fighting in front of the screen.

Buzzfeed touched on her identity as defiance of expectations for white girls, and that there is some sadness behind Bregoli due to an unsupportive family dynamic.

She is so bold that you can almost, almost forget that her life has been pretty difficult and her mother is happy to drag her onto television to say that she has given up on her child,” Scaachi Koul said, “while her father is giving quotes about how disappointed he is in her and creating a GoFundMe campaign to ‘save’ her.”

Oh please. Cry me a river. Her mother stands proudly behind her now that she’s profiting from her fame, and her father hasn’t been an active figure in Bregoli’s life for years, so his “campaign” is nothing but money that he’d probably pocket for himself.

When encountering cases like these, who do we blame? The girl for being what she thinks she needs to be for fame? The people around her supporting — or exploiting — her behavior? The social media followers for watching her music videos, pushing her for more?

As wild as it may seem, it’s simply the direction of our internet culture, and this is what we favor over real issues. Unwarranted fame takes precedence over societal and political turmoil — and that’s what we get to look forward to.

 

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