A packed Marvin Center theater chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” greeted talk show host Jerry Springer when he came to campus Thursday to promote his book and discuss ethics in the media. What Springer himself referred to as the “stupidest show on television” is also one of the most-watched programs in the nation. It’s a confounding paradox.
Springer’s show brings together guests who represent the extremes of society to tell a national audience their stories of various love entanglements, racism and emotional disorders of every kind. Guests squeeze their outrageous tales between the frequent brawls and profanity-laced tirades. The show is criticized regularly for diminishing television standards, but it consistently draws huge audiences around the world. But how is it that a crowd of what are supposed to be highly intelligent students are reduced to a bunch of clapping and babbling sycophants?
“The Jerry Springer Show” is a disgrace – but it is an entertaining disgrace and has a right to be aired. Some people – politicians and members of the media elite included – argue that Springer is a shameless exploiter of his guests and their stories. Others counter that all guests appear on the show of their own free will; they call the show completely aware of what it’s all about.
Whether one sees Springer as just another entertainer or an embarrassment to society, his popularity and ratings remain high. And as long as people keep watching, the show is here to stay, for better or for worse. On the next Springer: Why lower standards mean higher ratings.