They may be the first famous teens in the world you haven’t heard of yet. But just wait – you will soon enough: JoJo Siwa and Bhad Bhabie are just getting started, writes Lachlan Guertin
You might not have heard of these two girls yet, but their impact in the pop culture world has only just begun.
First appearing on the reality TV show Dance Moms, JoJo Siwa has quickly become a social media mogul. The 15 year old has 7.4 million followers on Instagram, eight million subscribers on YouTube, and early last year she was signed to Nickelodeon.
Hatch’s Lachlan Guertin finds out just how famous internet superstars really are.
While some might see her as ‘just another teen pop star’, she has successfully built a brand around herself, establishing a net worth of an estimated $8 million.
You’ll hardly ever see her without a large, colourful bow in her hair, and in 2016 she turned her iconic accessory into profit when she launched her own line of hair bows – a symbol of “power, confidence and believing-ness”. She has a variety of merchandise products available globally, including shoes, clothes, watches, dolls and craft kits, and also has released six songs and three books.
Her first book, JoJo’s Guide to the Sweet Life, became a New York Time’s best seller that focuses on inspiring young girls to be strong and confident, and encourages her Siwanatorz to pursue their dreams.
This theme carries on throughout songs such as Every Girl’s A Super Girl, Hold The Drama and Boomerang. The latter, which deals with cyberbullying, has 598 million views on YouTube and has been certified platinum in the US.
Siwa also co-hosts the Nickelodeon television competition ‘Lip Sync Battle Shorties’ with Nick Cannon, stars in the Nickelodeon animated series on YouTube The JoJo & BowBow Show Show and has won two Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
While her presence is huge in America, Siwa’s impact in Australia might have been underestimated.
When she did a short, free tour of Australia in July, including an appearance at the Logie Awards, over 15,000 people – equal to the capacity of Rod Laver Arena – showed up to the Eastland Shopping Centre in Melbourne. Similarly, thousands of fans arrived at Westfield Parramatta as early as 4am to catch a glimpse of her performance.
But not everyone is a Siwanator. Her bows have been banned from a number of schools across Australia, and as you can expect for any social media celebrity in 2018, Siwa has been the subject of many memes.
She has been bullied online for her height, a conspiracy that she is going bald, and the way that she dresses. She has used her YouTube channel to address the hate and how it doesn’t affect her, which continues to improve her wholesome, parent-approved brand.
On the other end of the scale is Danielle Bregoli, better known as Bhad Bhabie, who is less than two months older than Siwa. In September 2016 she appeared on Dr Phil with her mother for the segment called “I want to give up on my car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old daughter who tried to frame me for a crime”.
On the show, they discussed how Bregoli had run away from home, stolen her mother’s credit card, and even stolen a crew member’s car while filming. However, she became irritated when the crowd laughed at her expense, and six words made her internet famous: “Cash me outside, how bout dat”.
A remix of her catch phrase was released soon after, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 88, and she was also nominated for a 2017 MTV Movie and TV Award in the ‘Trending’ category. She also has one of the fastest-growing Instagram accounts in history, now at over 15 million followers.
Bregoli then turned her meme-status into actual success, becoming the youngest female rapper to ever appear on the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut single These Heaux. After this, she signed a multi-album recording contract with Atlantic Records, and released her first mixtape 15 in September.
She has collaborated with a number of mainstream artists, including Ty Dolla Sign, Snoop Dogg and Charli XCX, and was nominated for Top Rap Female Artist at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards alongside Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
Despite her fame, it doesn’t seem Bregoli has changed her attitude. In June 2017, she pleaded guilty to grand theft, grand theft auto, filing a false report and drug possession, and was handed five years probation. Early last year, she and her mother were banned from Spirit Airlines for life after Bregoli punched a passenger in the face.
She recently wrapped up her first tour – under the banner Bhanned – which was sold out across North America and Europe, and next month she will be touring Australia and New Zealand.
Tiffany, 21, is one fan who is eager to see Bhad Bhabie perform live in Melbourne, saying that while she doesn’t know what to expect, she knows it will be a show she won’t forget.
“I started off listening to her music because I thought it was so funny and her story was really interesting,” she says.
“Now I’m actually excited to go to her concert and see what she’s going to do.”
While it’s clear that the pair hold a lot of influence and have plenty of fans, not everyone their age identifies with their behaviour, or finds them likeable at all.
Madeleine, 15, says both girls are unsuitable role models.
“Being a huge Dance Moms fan, I think JoJo Siwa is quite an annoying teen for her age, and she wouldn’t have a following if it wasn’t for the show,” she says.
“Bhad Bhabie also acts far too inappropriate for her age, and she is just a rude, spoilt brat.”
Hugo, 13, reflects the same sentiments, saying the two teens aren’t actually meant for his age group and don’t deserve the fame they have received.
“I think that JoJo Siwa is mainly for kids under the age of eight, and she is kind of annoying and bratty. And I think Bhad Bhabie is just famous because of Dr Phil, and her songs are kind of catchy but not good enough to be on the charts.”
Shane Dawson, currently one of the most popular YouTubers with almost 19 million subscribers, tweeted last week that he would love to do a series of videos where Bhad Bhabie and JoJo Siwa switch lives for a day.
This would follow his current trend of interviewing a variety of popular internet stars, like Tana Mongeau, Jeffree Star and Jake Paul, which were all very well received online.
While the two girls may be the same age, they have expressed their distaste for one another online.
Back in July, Siwa tweeted screenshots of a Facebook post declaring her a better role model than Bhad Bhabie. Not one to shy away from a fight, Bregoli responded with three words:
Siwa added fuel to the fire, quoting the tweet and adding “exactly my point”.
But of course, celebrity feuds sometimes help enhance a certain level of fame. There’s been Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. These two teenage internet stars may be about to add themselves to that notorious list.