Exercise in Humiliation


'You're Such Losers!'

"You're being so evil and mean! When you grow up, you're going to be ashamed of the way you're acting! ... You three are very ugly, unattractive people!" yelled Murphy.

Then, she turned to Catherine Daddario, the actor playing the victim. "I'm, like, so upset for you. These are very, very evil people," she said.

We watched as one after another, women stepped up to admonish the girls.

Pat Summers asked the bullies, "Don't you have anyplace else to go?" When one of the mean girls responded, "you're not my mother!" Summers replied, "Thank God! If I were your mother, I'd knock your head off!"

Interesting patterns began to emerge. We had asked our actors to keep their language clean, so we were surprised to find out that it was the adults who were the ones cursing. But we were most surprised to find that many of the women who confronted the bullies, summoned their "inner teen" and imitated the actors, giving the mean girls a dose of their own medicine.

During Murphy's confrontation with the girls, she waved her hands in the air and yelled at them, "Oh, you guys are SO COOL!!! You're such losers, it's unbelievable!"

Lisa Stein and her husband David stepped in to help a bullied victim by yelling at the girls to stop their bad behavior. Then, Lisa imitated the bullies and said, "It's so COOL to pick on people! Oh, my GOD!"

We sensed that our girls were striking a nerve. In an interview afterward, Stein told ABC News, through tears, that she was bullied as a teenager, and she thought she might have mimicked the girls because that memory came flooding back.

We asked Wiseman why such raw emotions rose to the surface when women interacted with the mean girls? She told us she thinks it's a reflection of how intense people feel upon remembering what it was like to be a teen.

"It's like a flashback to when they were younger," Wiseman told correspondent John Quinones. "And when that happens, it can be a gift, because it can really propel you to be courageous and intervene."

Next, we met a woman who didn't let the bullies rattle her one bit. She approached our actors and calmly said, "This is something that I try to teach my children, and they're only 4 and 8 — if they want respect, they've got to give respect."

We noticed that a lot more women stepped up to the mean girls than when the bullies were boys. Our teenage actors told us they thought they knew why.

Daddario — the "victim" — told us that women "implant a little idea into your head, and it totally messes with you ... that's a skill that we hone!"

Actress Samantha Goober explained, "Boy bullying and girl bullying is so different, and I think that's why the women understand it more; because it's not just a punch in the face, and you're friends again. It's like, it's there forever."

A New Twist

But what would happen if our girls dressed in hoodies and acted more aggressively, instead of just mean? This time, the girls also threatened Daddario with physical violence, not just emotional abuse.

The result? People were much more reluctant to get involved. But those who did say something appealed directly to Daddario.

Madeline Adami approached the girls and intervened quickly, saying, "Catherine, why don't you just get up and walk away? Don't let them do this to you. It's not worth it. Walk away right now!"

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