The Legacy of the Jerry Springer Show
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For years we have heard the audience yell "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!" and go crazy for those Jerry beads. But will Jerry Springer actually be remembered years from now? Some may argue that no, Jerry Springer was just a phase and no one will care about it in the future. They may be right at some level. No one really watches the show like before, but Jerry Springer has left an impact on American culture which is something worth talking about.
Springer has changed how many watch television, and in a sense, has introduced a little more explicitly violence on television. Such violence on TV has never really been seen before, or at least has not become that famous because of it. The Jerry Springer Show has sort of paved the way for other television shows that promote violence. Shows that we watch today may have derived from the same idea of The Jerry Springer Show, more openness with the contents viewed in television. Violence on television is no longer taboo, it has become somewhat acceptable now.
Jerry Springer has become so famous because of his show, that his success led to a movie, and many other types of appearances. According to IMDb (The Internet Movie Database), Jerry Springer - The Opera, was a musical made based on the show. The movie Ringmaster, is also based on his show, where Springer played as himself. Another appearance in a movie was in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where he made a cameo appearance as himself during an episode of his show featuring Dr. Evil and his son Scott Evil (IMDb). Inclusively, he also hosts a radio show called Springer on the Radio on Air American Radio (Wikipedia).
Jerry Springer's show put people's dirty laundry out into the open.
The show made many people realize that when you think your problems are bad, there is always something worse going on somewhere else. Also, that there are other people in this country who are far more dysfunctional then they are. If people see it from this point of view, they can feel a little better about their own lives. The fact that so many people watch this show reflects a lot on the role violence plays in our society. To the viewers of The Jerry Springer Show, violence is entertainment. But this is not anything new, the show is not to be blamed for this.
The fact that people find violence amusing, can be traced back from the very beginning of mankind. People's interests in television shows focus mainly on violence and the tragic stories of others. The Springer show only brought this fact out into the spotlight.
But the TV show did not start out this way. It was aired in September 1991, but was a talk show based on political issues (IMDb). This was an extension to the fame he already gained in 1982 on Cincinnati's NBC's affiliate WLWT-TV, as a political reporter and commentator (Wikipedia). At the end of each segment he would include his "Final Thought." It is here where he developed his catch phrase "Take care of yourself and each other," (IMDb) which he still uses in The Jerry Springer Show. As a result of low ratings, a new producer was chosen (Wikipedia). In order to achieve higher ratings, Springer tried introducing more appealing topics, making the show what it is now. This explains why at the end of every episode of The Jerry Springer show, there is always a "Final Thought," where Springer gives the audience advice and the moral of the day.
Springer has had a very successful and diverse career. Before Springer became a talk show host, he was and still is now involved in politics. For starters, he was Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977 (WMA). Before becoming mayor, he had attempted to run for a seat in the U.S. House Of Representatives but failed (Wikipedia). He was then elected to the city council of Cincinnati, but then resigned when there was a scandal involving him paying a prostitute with a personal check (IMDb). As a political reporter and commentator, he received a lot of recognition and was voted "Best Anchor" by Cincinnati Magazine for five years straight (IMDb). During that time he received seven local Emmy Awards (Wikipedia).
Despite the controversy of his show and its vulgar content, Springer as a person, is something quite different. He is considered by many as a humanitarian. As a five year old child fleeing from the Holocaust, and being an outsider trying to adapt to a new country (Wikipedia), it can be understood how Springer grew up a humanitarian. His struggle at a very young age, made him humble and appreciative. Some of these characteristics he tries to incorporate towards the end of his show while giving his final thoughts.
Besides his professional achievements, Springer has made many contributions to several communities. Some include his involvement with Cincinnati Reaches Out, efforts to help famine amongst Africans (WMA). He also funds a scholarship at the Keliman School in Chicago, IL which helps the inner-city youth (WMA). For years, Springer has been involved with AHHCF (Advisory Board of the Audrey Hepburn Hollywood for Children Fund), a foundation for needy children around the world (WMA). In addition, he has also participated in efforts for AIDS and breast cancer (WMA).
Yablon, in her article for the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, says how talk shows like Jerry Springer are considered "trash TV." Also how this idea started out from the Rikki Lake Show, being the first talk show where producers allowed confrontations between the guests in the show. She goes on discussing how this was a success, and how Jerry Springer took this a step further, by being the first talk show to allow physical confrontations. Yablon explains how certain talk shows vary in topics. Some shows are informative and supportive, but as she said people's interest leaned more towards more provocative topics, such as other people's personal lives (Yablon).
Because of this shift in interest, Jerry Springer became so successful, because it is what the majority wanted to see. She compares reasons why people watch the Springer show as to why people would drive slowly to a traffic accident, which can be proven in many people. It serves as a sort of defense mechanism to feel a bit better about our own lives, at the dispense of watching the misery of others.
The show is so controversial because of it's vulgar content. Episodes of The Jerry Springer Show vary from incest, unfaithful couples, gay and lesbian love triangles, among many other controversial topics. The topics discussed in his show appeal to so many of us because it does not occur around us so often. The Springer Show is kind of a rude awakening as to what happens among us whether we are aware of it or not. Although we are not always exposed to these kinds of topics, these situations do occur in our society. The more outrageous the guests are, the more they are rewarded. They are given Jerry beads for flashing or mooning the audience. To enhance people's interest, the guests of the show are given a few minutes of fame, and are encouraged by both the audience and Springer, to engage in physical confrontations with the other guests.
Yablon's article comes off as informative unlike Houston's article for the School Administrator. His article entitled, "Living in a Jerry Springer World," seems to show criticism against Jerry Springer. The show is a mere representation to our society today. The author admits to having watched the show before, and calls it a "guilty pleasure." He continues to tell how he thinks we are all living in a Jerry Springer world by how our society has evolved. He says "The Springer show has come to represent the extremes in our society--perversion, unlikely pairings, lying, cheating and what have you.." Houston goes on explaining how the Jerry Springer show is considered a part of what he calls the "toxic culture." His article triggers the effects on children, but was he failed to realize was that the show was not intended for children to begin with, as well as many other shows. How the children get access to viewing them is the question to be asked here. But in his conclusion he mentions "Maybe if we raised our children with some support and structure, they wouldn't be so affected by the culture that surrounds them. And maybe we need to understand that in a Jerry Springer world, the problems cease when the audience stops watching. If we don't like how our world is, we need to become part of the solution and stop being part of the problem." (Houston)
Jerry Springer can be considered an American Legend because he will always be remembered for his controversial show. The majority of people have watched his show at some point. Although he hasn't done something that is considerably good, Springer has still left a lasting impression. In saying he didn't do something considered good, he also didn't do anything bad either. Many blame Springer for exposing violence to children and what not, but there are far worse methods children are introduced to violence. This is not to say that it is ok to show violence on television for children to see. The point is that it is not meant for the children to see, there many shows that are not meant for children to see. The show takes places weekdays in the daytime, the time when school is in session. Also it is up to the parents that their children do not have access to this show, as they would with any other show that wasn't appropriate for children.
Regardless of his outrageous talk show and the controversy and criticism that came along with it, Springer is a very giving and successful man, which many critics do not take into account. His show reflects very much how our society and television has changed over time. Jerry Springer has demonstrated what catches the American people's eye, and what we, well some of us, define as entertainment.
- http://www.wma.com/jerry_springer/bio/JERRY_SPRINGER.pdf - (William Morris Agency)
- Houston, Paul D. "Living In a Jerry Springer World" School Administrator. Aug. 2005
- Yablon, Sharon "Jerry Springer" St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture,
2002 Gale Group