Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Lions Den

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

What I consider to be the most influential tv show of the 90s wasn't Friends, it wasn't Seinfeld and it wasn't ER. No, it was a simple talk show hosted by a former city mayor that told easily digestible human interest stories. Stories that you and I, simple folk, can relate to on an everyday level. Stuff like who slept with who, who's related to whoever is being slept with, and why people are sleeping or suspected with sleeping with other people they shouldn't be sleeping with. You know, normal stuff. Followed by running attacks and clothes tearing wrasslin.

I can't remember a lot of tv from the Clinton era, I didn't watch X Files or much anything else with regularity that I can recall from that time. But Jerry Springer, that was on everywhere including work. This was what America truly wanted to see: real random fighting. No skill involved, no stuntmen, just people beating the holy hell out of each other cause they felt like it.

I wasn't a big fan of the show though I am just as guilty as anyone else of being mesmerized by the train wreck carnage of junior high style slugfests. As much as I would like to revel in the pure wrongness of the program, I get a little snooty when it comes to this low brow icon. The Jerry Springer show didn't push the envelope of taste, it took taste and buried it under a heaping pile of dung. Normally I like that sort of thing, I guess Springer just seemed too real for me to enjoy it. This wasn't making a statement about society, it was reflecting an ugly side of society I knew about and didn't care to see. The Springer Show's impact was pervasive, all of media was affected in the race to the bottom (and ironically I enjoyed some of that influence a lot, such as WWE's Attitude era of wrestling). Eventually the show had to pull back on its famous fights, just not before the damage was done.
If at this point you might say "Hey, wait, isn't this hypocritical when you consider the taste level of most everything else on this blog?" Well...yes, yes it is. For my excuse, accept one of the following pat answers: a.) I'm a complex human being with complex human emotions that you can't understand. b.) I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam. c.) Me? What about YOU! d.) My hypocracy is nothing compared to what the government gets away with. e.) That's not what I meant to say, what I meant to say is that this is an opinion from a certain point of view that may or may not be held by a select grouping of people that might include me. f.) I ate spicy food last night that caused heartburn g.) I didn't inhale h.) my other car is a Porche i.) I know you are but what am I? j.) You can't handle the truth! Now, back to the soap box...

You could say Jerry Springer was just continuing what Geraldo Rivera started. You could say all this was inevitable, that You Tube and other forms of social media would have magnified the cruel vicious side of youth on an openly national level without Springer. Still I view The Jerry Springer Show as a breaking point in media history, where basic human decency was declared OK to do without. For me electronic media is more a reflection of where society is than an influence so I don't blame Jerry Springer for the destruction of decency. That's our choice. I just don't like to look at it in it's raw, uncut form. And that's my final thought for today. Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.

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