I have a confession.
I have been unemployed for roughly a month (don’t worry, I just got a great new job and I start Monday)and in that time, I have become a fan of the Jerry Springer Show, a.k.a. the worst show on TV. It’s a guilty pleasure.
But it’s more of an academic pleasure, really. The first episode I saw after leaving the Tracy Press reminded me of Pankration, an ancient Roman sport that was basically a fight to the death, and other ancient fighting spectacles. Given the rampant popularity of mixed-martial arts and UFC and the like, FOX, Spike or Versus will probably start showing actual pankration in about 5 years.
Both Jerry Springer and pankration are incredibly primal. In pankration, two men would just go at it until one either dies or gives up, which usually meant he would kill himself, as it was the ultimate sin to return home a loser. From what I can recall in Prof. Mechikoff’s class at SDSU, the Romans wanted more. It wasn’t enough to just have humans in the arena. Gladiator fights at the Colosseum evolved, involving animals tearing people apart with bloodthirsty Roman fans cheering.
In Jerry Springer, two brothers are usually tearing each other apart over a woman/cousin/transvestite/midget, as bloodthirsty fans cheer all this on. Watch this. How does it seem any different?
Part of me feels bad for Jerry Springer. I have a feeling that he didn’t want his show to become the freakshow that it has become. Here’s a clip from the infancy of the Jerry Springer Show. There’s no white trash love drama. There’s no hookers. No Johns. No pimps. And after the Jerry Springer Show comes Maury Povich, which has devolved into “YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER!” lie detector shows. I can sense a bit of desperation from both hosts. Like they’ve kind of just thrown up their hands and figure, hell, if the people like it, why not?