True Spirit and Not Giving A Fuck: In praise of the UMD student who smashed a beer can on her face, Bhad Bhabie, and Cardi B

"You can't be scared of shit, you have to be hard."- from "Spring Breakers"

Try and imagine genuinely not giving a fuck for even just a moment. To let go of all the things so you're present enough that, um, I dunno, if you were, say, at a frat party, you could catch a beer launched your way, take off your sunglasses, slam the can on your head, twist the now-opened can up to your lips with very little of the beer or foam falling onto the floor, chug what was left, all in one motion, to an adoring drunk audience, as a now somewhat viral University of Maryland student did a couple weeks ago. In the clip, that "coed," as so many antediluvian turds have dubbed her on blogs, which is to say, a young woman, wears the Maryland flag as a cape—she is heroic, duh—and she's watched by guys who couldn't do this if they tried and tried and tried and probably have tried and tried and tried.


To not give a fuck is to be disdainful of one's own potential for flamboyance. Notice how she doesn't even really react once it all goes down. If it's because she's dazed after thwonking herself with a beer can, well, she doesn't let on that's the reason. It's closer to someone who just dunked a basketball in an obscenely graceful way or made the most bonkers catch in the outfield—a knee-jerk calm that overtakes you amid the chaos after you were so thoroughly focused and centered.

Near her in the video, a specific sort of college male, a bit less bro-y than the rest of them, but maybe more alt-right-ish, freaks the hell out because of course he is freaking the hell out: This chick just caught a beer, opened it by sending it into her face, and downed that shit. He understands it all on a meta level so he looks at the camera, mouths "What the fuck?" and puts his hands on his forehead—an appreciation of women's perspicacity and tolerance for pain, and a tacit acknowledgment of the cold hard fact that women are plain better at things than men. That all should stick with him beyond the length of this clip. It probably didn't.


This clip darted around the internet at the same time that Danielle Bregoli, best known as the "Cash me outside girl" and now rapping as Bhad Bhabie, released 'Hi Bich' and 'Whachu Know,' two incredibly derivative but quite good lurching, catchy, blown-out rap songs. Bhad Bhabie doesn't give a fuck either. It's how she made a name for herself: messing with Dr. Phil and his audience who all stood there and felt superior to her as she unapologetically laid out how she rolls (she stole her mom's car and credit card and bought a stripper pole with the money and she ain't afraid of juvie) and then challenged the whole audience to a fight ("cash me outside how bow dah") after the show in the parking lot. Another white girl acting indelicately for sure, but her fury has layers. In a follow-up episode of "Dr. Phil," Bregoli, somewhat reformed (or really, her energy redirected), expressed interest in wanting to be a nurse when she grows up, noted she provides anti-bullying advice to her fans, then totally schools Dr. Phil again. "I made you just like Oprah made you. You were nothing before I came on this show," she says, big devilish smile, leaving Phil looking more dejected and lumpy than usual. Another win for Bhad Bhabie.

But when it comes to rapping, Bregoli isn't even walking a line. Her songs are essentially blackface, pure appropriation, and we are all counting down the days until she does something full-stop ridiculous and terrible. There is already this video, 24 seconds long, titled "Bhad Bhabie Says N - Word Multiple Times," in which she says "nigga" nearly a dozen times. She is, however, a bit more of an underdog than other rich white girls using hip-hop as an edgy accoutrement such as Miley Cyrus (read Claire Lobenfeld's brilliant review of the new Miley over at Pitchfork) or Iggy Azalea (read Clover Hope's staggering profile of Iggy at Jezebel) and there is plenty of resentment ("Hi, bitch, hi, bitch, hi, bitch, hi, bitch" goes the chorus) and spite ("I do not save it, I throw it") and wit ("That 'fit look like you bought it at a kiosk"; "All y'all look like you still fly Spirit") in Bregoli's act. It's an act hiding something real, at least. Bregoli is also 14 years old, mind you.

Bregoli's rap career, and really all the ways she has monetized "Cash me outside," happens with the help from her mother, who first put her on television because she was out of control and blah blah blah, and whose horrible way of dealing with her daughter as seen in that wildly popular "Dr. Phil" clip surely inflicted plenty of trauma that moves one toward not giving a fuck the way Bregoli does not give a fuck. But now the family is cashing in, and they should. What got her on television as a problem child has made her semi-legit. Meanwhile, Bregoli's dad, Ira Peskowitz, is a sheriff's deputy in Palm Beach County and has taken to announcing to the press how much he cares about the daughter he doesn't see. He claims he is not allowed to see her—typical dick dad sob story. This is a great metaphor for how police, and men in general, function in this country: They take no responsibility, they want no involvement until they suddenly do, and then they piss and moan while taking the moral high ground, even though they totally held all the power to change what they're bitching about for, like, forever.

The video for 'Hi Bich,' is in part a mockery of the criminal justice system, recasting judge and jury as a whole bunch h8ers. We see Bregoli on trial (for what isn't clear, but most people tried in Amerikkkan courts are there for reasons other than the charges, it is all bullshit, burn it down), convicted, put in the electric chair, killed, resurrected in all-white and driven down the street in a Porsche, with a white horse and a man in a gimp mask pulling it. It is the best A$AP Rocky video ever made. The transition from 'Hi Bich' to the more performance-based 'Whachu Know' arrives via Bregoli in close-up, holding her hands, praying, and raising her eyes to the sky, fusing the Art History ecstatic with that one GIF of Liz Lemon eye-rolling.

Another vivid salvo of anti-respectability: Number one song in the country 'Bodak Yellow' from Cardi B, rap's premier personality who offers nothing but gummy, confrontational sincerity—a lackadaisical sort of DGAF. 'Bodak Yellow' is fine with so-called fakeness. "I'm the hottest in the street, know you probably heard of me/ Got a bag and fixed my teeth, hope you hoes know it ain't cheap," Cardi B raps, which is paradoxically also her being very, very honest, and very real, and not fake at all. She famously described herself as "a regular degular shmegular girl from the Bronx."

But go all the way back to a skit on Cardi B's 2016 mixtape "Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1"—its cover features Cardi, legs up, and a muscular dude with a big back tat going down on her while she drinks a giant Corona—where a man yells abusive shit at Cardi for two minutes (the skit is titled 'Her Perspective'). It has the effect of reminding you that a whole lot of rap music could be explained as a man yelling abusive shit at a woman for a few minutes, and invokes something Cardi B has talked about in interviews—an abusive relationship she in part escaped by stripping, which got her lots of dough and some reality show and Instagram shine, and here we are now. That skit transitions into the track, 'Selfish,' an eerily magnanimous song about a breakup that sounds more like an escape: "Withering away as I gaze at the sky looking at his face and all the pain it's caused me/ I ask why didn't I love/ Didn't I give you more than I ever gave myself?/ What do you wish cause that part of me no longer exist/ This time I'm first, I'm picking me—I finally learned to be selfish," she rap-sings.

That side of Cardi B—tender, determined—is now spreading far and wide, though anybody who has listened to her music closely or viewed her IG with empathy for a while now already knew all about it. But it does offer something different in the context of next big thing: "Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel with us, we're gonna be standing for you, baby! That's right, I said it!" she declared at the MTV Video Music Awards; all those Instagram videos of her in near tears once she learned 'Bodak Yellow' was number one; a video showing a room full of supplies which Cardi tweeted out, adding, "Look what the strip club I used to work at collected for Puerto Rico."

On 'Bodak Yellow' there are echoes of the arch sneering found on the "Gangsta Bitch Music Vol.1" cover where Cardi's getting some head. "I might just feel on your babe, my pussy feel like a lake," she raps. "He wanna swim with his face, I'm like, 'OK'/ I'll let him get what he want, he buy me Yves Saint Laurent." Lines like this are also why a Twitter thread got wildly popular, twisting Cardi B's radically pragmatic strain of capitalism into socialist solidarity. "'These is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes' = overthrowing the bourgeoisie may be a bloody affair, but the working class will prevail," @prezmomobologna tweeted and got hella retweets in return. Because she isn't a white girl acting up at a frat party or a teenage white girl impersonating Migos "rain drop, drop top" flow for millions of YouTube views and temporary catharsis, Cardi B has to be so much for so many people, but she is up for the challenge, offering a restorative kind of not giving a fuck.