Look out U.N., here comes Springer

It’s time to contact the agents of Presidents Clinton and Hussein to see if the two can be booked for an appearance on the “Jerry Springer Show.” Even though the United Nations appears to have temporarily solved some of the issues of conflict between the United States and Iraq, somebody has yet to get to the heart of Clinton and Hussein’s deepest personal struggles.
Behold! The venue for such a discussion appears every night here in Minneapolis at 10 p.m. on Channel 23, KLGT, on your television dial.
I’m talking, of course, about the broadcast of the most ridiculous confrontations in television history, brought to your living room for all the hoots and hollers any early-late night viewer would hope for.
“It’s crazy, it’s wild, and this is America,” says Richard Dominick, executive producer of the “Jerry Springer Show.” Yes, Springer’s show is crazy and wild. And yes, unfortunately, it does take place in America. If it serves any purpose other than the latest leap into the void of pop-psychiatry, it just might have its merit in good old fashioned fun.
Karen Kenefick, a junior in the School of Agriculture, counts herself as one of the many who indulge in Springer’s cathartic show. “Springer’s probably the least credible of the talk show hosts, but he stirs up the most problems. Sometimes I think I’m doing pretty bad in life, but when I watch Springer and look at these people on his show, I realize I must not be doing so horribly after all.”
If you haven’t seen the “Jerry Springer Show” yet, consider this your warning. The ratings this hair-brained excuse for journalism has gained in the past year will confirm that plenty of people in America savor the fitful displays of anger instigated by the likes of trailer-trash and diaper-wearing deviants.
Kenefick has been watching Springer regularly, “about four times a week,” for the last six months. She doesn’t count herself a Springer fan, however. “I don’t like him,” she says, noting one of the central ironies of the show: “He makes a lot of money off of people’s misery.”
Kenefick adds, “But I do like his show; it’s pure entertainment.”
The titles of just a few of the episodes give an idea of what the show is about: “I Want Your Man!” “Stop Stalking My Man!” “Klanfrontation!” “Surprise! I Have Two Lovers!” “I’m Having a Secret Affair!” “Stop Sleeping with My Lover!” “Jerry Rescues a 1,200-Pound Couple!” “Teenage Call Girls!” and “Give Me Back my Lover!” So go the gist of themes of betrayal, hatred and love gone wrong.
Of course, if Clinton and Hussein agree, “Blood is Thicker than Bio-chemical Weapons!” and “My Love, Our War and Your Cheating Heart!” would fit well in here too.
Springer digs up his guests from somewhere between trailer parks and carnival midways, all for the delight of studio guests and home viewers. His show can be called another version of institutionalized welfare, since most of his guests are paid to attend. As anyone who has tuned into the show will testify, the results are an absolute riot.
Andy Titze, a 20-year-old cook at a local restaurant, says he’s proud to be one of Springer’s fans. Titze praises Springer, saying he’d tell the talk show host, if he were in the studio audience, “You’re the best, Jerry!” Titze explains, “Jerry knows what I like.”
Titze’s familiarity with the show goes beyond the level of the average viewer and into the world of the rapidly growing base of Springer-philes. He’s got the Springer video anyone over the age of 18 can order, as advertised in commercials: “Too Hot! — the uncensored look at the scenes you didn’t see on TV!”
“That video — it’s just awesome!” he says. According to Titze, the clips of shows featured in the video aren’t necessarily any more explicit than the scenes we see broadcast every night. “It’s just funny,” he says, going on to describe a clip with a 500-pound stripper who takes off her clothes and “does the total splits on stage in front of the whole audience. When she does,” coming down with a thud, “the whole crowd — especially these guys in the front row — just go into absolute hysterics.”
Censored or not, for better or worse, this is the essence of any episode, many of which are perhaps only more violent, and under a different title.
One scene from earlier this season revealed that Gina was going with George until she got involved with his brother. Gina and George are on stage together. George is huge and his brother Gene, entering stage left, even more huge.
For kicks, at this point, substitute the following names: Bill for George, Saddam for Gene, and “the peace of the entire world” for Gina.
Before a word is spoken Saddam rushes Bill, bashing him and his chair to the floor. Pretty soon everyone on stage, including Springer’s bouncers, are rolling around like WWF wrestlers in a cage match. Of course, it’s all captured on film.
The fight is eventually subdued, leading to a verbal confrontation so filtered with deleted words by the censors that we can only imagine what these behemoths are yelling at each other about.
The argument goes something like: Bill to Saddam and Saddam to Bill, “Bleep!”
“He’s the only person that you have ever bleep! You been bleepin’ her? How? Bleep! What for you bleep? What? You bleepin’ me? Bleep. What you bleepin’ talking about? Bleep. Had you bleepin’ been there for her — bleep. Bleep. You bleepin’ laying your hands on my bleep brother? Bleep. Bleep. Seeing you bleep. Seeing you bleep. Bleep. You know I never bleep! Bleep.”
And everyone lives happily ever after.
Springer’s attempt to package the show as a human interest bit comes at the end of an hour’s worth of screaming, profanities, punching and fighting. He closes with recommendations to his audience, “Till next time, take care of yourself — and each other.”
However, if any of his dysfunctional guests actually paid attention to his words, Springer wouldn’t have a show.
And so the world turns, with the universal struggle of brother against brother, lover against lover and freak-show rednecks as far as the eye can see, right in your very own living room.
Start setting the stage. I ask again, what other venue could provide such an opportunity for even the most inflated egos — Clinton and Hussein included — to vent some of their aggressions on each other, instead of catching millions of innocent bystanders in the wake of their fussing and feuding?
U.N.? We don’t need no stinking U.N.! Give em to Springer. Even Clinton and Hussein need to learn to “take care of each other.”
Gregory A. Borchard’s column appears every Thursday. He can be reached with comments via e-mail at [email protected]