Vulnerability seems to be at the heart of a 13-year-old girl’s challenge to an entire “Dr. Phil” audience
Danielle Peskowitz Bregoli, the 13-year-old who challenged a “Dr. Phil” audience, “Cash me outside, how bow dah?,” is having a very big moment. The “cash me outside” memes are everywhere, a brief history of the catch phrase (cash phrase?) dominates NYMag.com, and Danielle is back in the news today because of accusations that she punched someone on an airplane.
If you’ve never heard of “Cash me outside, how bow dah” — like I’d failed to hear of it until the New York Magazine story — here’s the basic rundown.
In September, Danielle appeared on one of the countless “out-of-control teen” episodes of “Dr. Phil.” She spoke in a weird approximation of what I guess she considers “street” dialogue and called the audience “hos.” Dr. Phil took the audience’s side, and they applauded, and Danielle threatened to beat them all up, outdoors, because that’s where a proper young gentlelady administers beatings.
“Cash me outside, how bow dah?” she said, which un-fun people have helpfully translated as “catch me outside, how ’bout that?”
As an old person, I love these kinds of stories because they feed my Gen X fantasies that my generation will be the last holdout of civilization; that in our final moments we’ll see the world fall to a bunch of violent, inarticulate child-thugs who will destroy all the wonderful things we built with our indie graphic novels and grunge music, and know that we were the last of the best.
Isn’t this what every generation wants? So I read the NY Mag story to the very end.
Of course for my this-is-the-end-of-the-world narrative to work, I needed Danielle to be not an outlier, but an embodiment of a whole movement of wayward, violent, outside fighter-teens, and for this I needed evidence that she had legions of fans. This sentence in the NY Mag story came close to providing that fix:
“Peskowitz Bregoli is alive and well and keeping her fans updated via Facebook, where just yesterday she streamed a live video consisting largely of her counting dollar bills to the camera for nearly an hour. It has since been viewed over 45,000 times. ‘CASH ME LIVE!’ Well … how bow dah.”
Wow! I thought. Did 45,000 people really just watch her count dollar bills for nearly an hour? How many dollar bills? I started watching, of course. (Make that 45,001, thank you.)
I fast-forwarded after the boring first minutes — let’s get to the money counting! And then, at about the 17-minute mark, I arrived at a moment I didn’t expect.
Danielle was reading a message from another teen, someone who saw Danielle as enough of a role model to write to her and ask for advice. The girl seeking help, who had relocated from Chicago to Texas, said her new classmates “throw stones at me” because of the way she talks. She asked Danielle what she should do.
Danielle paused, decided how honest she wanted to be, and answered hesitantly:
“I mean, obviously I’m tiny so people like to make fun of me. … That’s why I got a mouth like I do because that’s how I had to… defend myself or else there wasn’t no defendin’ myself. … Bitch, I happen to have a mouth. That’s the only way I’m finna get through with life.”
Did you get that? Let me try to translate. She’s little, and feels physically threatened by other kids, so she makes a lot of threats to get them to leave her alone. She doesn’t actually want to fight entire audiences, outside. She wants to not fight entire audiences. Anywhere.
In the moment I heard her answer, my whole self-serving end-of-the-world scenario was ruined. Danielle is just doing what people have always done: trying not to get hurt. She turns out to be a real, flesh-and-blood human who, while hilarious, also has some dimensionality.
She isn’t, to my disappointment, a child-monster, and, against my every hope, I empathize with her. I know, I know: I hate it when this happens, too.
You know what I’m going to say now, right? How bow dah.