Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jerry Springer, trash talk TV & a test of morals

I happened to watch The Jerry Springer Show today for the first time in several years.

At the break to several commercials, they showed a billboard that tauted the JS show as having been voted television's worst, and maybe it is - except that Jerry Springer himself is like the Alice Cooper of TV "talk" shows.

Years ago, British rock star Alice Cooper appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Carson asked him, basically, 'why the makeup, why the snakes, why the outlandishness?' And Cooper responded with something like, 'I'm laughing all the way to the bank.'

That's Springer - laughing all the way to the bank. But frankly, he doesn't seem to be laughing much anymore. He seems more pained than pleased at how ruthless and raunchy his show has become. He seems to play an increasingly chagrinned and even exasperated Dr. Frankenstein watching his trailer trash monsters tear up the stage. Meanwhile, the black-shirted bouncers don't get much of a rest.

Jerry Springer is a very smart guy. Some years ago, he served as a Cincinnati City Council member and later as MAYOR or Cincinnati. Like Mick and Keith and Alice, he must have realized that there was an easier way to turn his alotted 15 minutes of fame into 15 years of infamy - and upwards of $15 million dollars.

After a few years, I am startled to see how the Springer show had morphed in the last few years. There is much less resolution than there used to be. Coached confrontations incite a riot on stage and off, and there a segment ends, leaving most just wound up and left hanging. Many segments are now more purely titillation - just wind ups to the pitch, and the pitch is more consistently fisticuffs and cussing and trash talk and cat fights and bleeps and digitally obscured revelations of breasts and other body parts.

The guests on stage (and now in the bathrooms as well) are PAID, coached and outright TAUNTED to be angry, crude and outrageous. But the big change was the outrageousness of the audience, obviously coached (and perhaps even paid) to bare their breasts, taunt the "cast" and generally incite studio riots worthy of... worthy of WHAT?

But then, after nearly an hour of this swearing, spitting contest comes Jerry's "Final Thought." The "Final Thought" is one of the most valuable moments on all of television, and yet you, the viewer, have to suffer through an increasingly violent and yet monotonous hour of pathetic spite and spit (and digitized tits) to get there.

Mr. Spring has a better sense of morality and ethics than Jerry Falwell or Ralph Reid or anyone else on the so-called religious channels. Even our presidential candidates and the president himself could learn from Springer's "Final Thought." (Sad to say, most of the other higher ups in the Bush administration seem beyond learning any genuine morals at all - they are just in it to use and abuse their power and command.)

Jerry speaks sucy SENSE in those final moments you have to wonder why he would have suffered through the taping of the rest of the show, sort of an incestuous, red neck Mardi Gras.

There are rumors that Mr. Springer will at last give up his crass cash cow of a TV show in the next year or two and run for the U.S. Senate from Ohio (Springer has hinted at this ambition for years). He sees the jobs as distinct and not contradictory. I hope he does run. I think Springer is an exceedingly smart and moralistic person - in a good way. And I think he might be a strangely valuable and unfailingly earnest addition to American politics, such as the seemingly ludicrous Jesse Ventura (i.e., no mud wrestling or whore-mongering in Washington - as opposed to other Senators, less colorful publicly though privately perverse). Mr. Springer is probably not perverse himself, and he's plenty smart to be a senator from Ohio, and he certainly could pull a populist card or two out of his hat. (Wouldn't a Springer/Kucinich duo be a plus for dowdy Ohio!)

But in the meantime, what a crazy yin/yang going on with the Springer show - to parade pathetic trash for most of the hour and then, in the last few minutes, speak calmly and eloquently for maturity and virtue.

Too bad in this culture it seems we can't expand that last few minutes into the brunt of the hour.

25 Comments:

At 12/01/2004 7:26 PM, Blogger Aleksu said...

I've seen the Jerry Springer show a few times.

I used to believe that there was no way there could be people so dumb as to go to a show like that one and display their idiocy on national television. I couldn't believe there was people in some of the situations described during the shows either.

Then one of my roommates started dating a "dancer". That is what I call an eye opener.

Other than that I've seen Jerry Springer on a couple of interviews and you're right, he seems to have the head on his shoulders.

 
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