On Wednesday, Feb. 20 Jerry Springer came back to school.Springer, on his fifth leg of a nine-part “Back to School” tour, made a stop in West Chester to host the Contemporary Issues event: “Culture of reality television and the truth behind the Jerry Springer Show” in front of a full crowd at Asplundh Concert Hall.
The Jerry Springer Show started in 1991 as a general, carbon-copy talk show, but took brash and nonmainstream subjects and cast them into the public eye.
The crowd, some of which were waiting outside the concert hall hours before the program, began the “Jerry” chant when he walked out on stage. The crowd got a dose of truth, reality and politics from Springer.
Springer’s boldest claim of the evening were his feelings toward the 2008 election and universal healthcare.
“Hold any of the three candidates accountable for [a] national defense of healthcare,” Springer said. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of us will leave this Earth because of a disease or accident.”
Springer also claimed that it was imperative to insure the 40 million Americans who do not have healthcare in order to drive down costs for all Americans. He continued stating that healthcare should be the government’s responsibility, praising Canadian and European systems.
The majority of Springer’s discussion focused on facts and philosophies behind his reality, talk show.
Moderator Matt Lombardo presented Springer with a WCU sweatshirt, which he jokingly vowed to wear on his next show of transvestites.
This was one of the many comments and jokes that Springer used to poke fun at his show’s seriousness and get the crowd relaxed.
However, behind Springer’s jokes and witty comments, he offered serious points relating to the major issues in society today.
“The more we can expose [issues] the better,” Springer said before the event.
Throughout the program, Springer used a sampling of clips from his talk show to discuss issues like race, sexuality and American culture change.
Springer’s first season of shows started as “typical talk shows,” but after what Springer described as a fight on a difficult show on racism, the concept changed toward entertainment.
“Until then, it was unheard of to have a fight on a talk show,” Springer stated. Especially, as Springer claims, since all other talk shows tried to mimic the Oprah Winfrey Show’s philosophy.
Homosexuality made its lasting mark on the Jerry Springer show in 1992 when two men kissed on air.
“The audience went wild, there were protesters, and threats to pull sponsorships,” Springer saidbefore taking the stage. “The more we’re exposed to this, the more the standard will [change].”
Springer also commented on the Jenny Jones scandal, where a man appeared on the show to tell another man about a secret crush. Three days after the show’s taping the latter man murdered the other and the Jenny Jones Show was sued for negligence.
“Homophobia still exists in our society,” Springer said. Springer continued stating that if it was a straight person who killed another, there would not have been an issue with Jenny Jones. “That show told more about society than Jenny Jones.”
Springer also remembered an episode where he lost control during a show titled, “A Racist Family.” The father made anti-Semitic remarks during the show about Springer’s family, many of whom who were exterminated in concentration camps.
“We have crazy guests and sometimes they do horrible things,” Springer said. “If you are really going to have the raw truth, this is what you’re going to have.”
Springer also showed clips from more heartwarming stories, but the majority featured the outrageous which he did not shy away from claiming his show to be
“If there’s any good that comes out of all these shows it is that we’re all alike,” Springer said. “We just come in different shapes and sizes.”
Springer defended his show’s guests by claiming they are not trash as some people describe them. Springer argued that just because they may not be white, upper-class people who speak perfect English, they are not “trash.”
Springer described it as class bigotry and one of the positive effects of the show.
“If our shows did anything when they were mainstreamed, they opened up television to all Americans.”
Springer concluded the conversational part of the show with question and answers from the audience ranging from the negative dealings with television news to where his future lies.
Springer also discussed his future. Springer said he doubted he would return to host a political talk show, but kept open the idea of going back into politics, where he began his career.
“It’s more likely if I do anything political that I would get into politics myself,” Springer admitted. He also went on to say he could see himself running for Senate in the near future.
Francis Stern is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at FS628548@wcupa.edu