Jerry Springer was in the news again lately after finally making his obligatory turn in a big ol’ bug costume at Fox The Masked Singer. (This after a three-year run on his syndicated legal show Judge Jerry(which wrapped up its final episodes earlier this year.) Springer — a lawyer and former politician turned reality television star after several years as a local news anchor — has always taken a thoughtful, often ambivalent, attitude when discussing his most well-known product , The Jerry Springer Show. Now in a recent episode of David Yontef Behind the velvet rope podcasthe has offered a joking apology for the series, saying: “I ruined the culture.”
Springer is obviously tongue-in-cheek with the apology, noting that he hopes “hell isn’t too hot” when he gets there. (He cracked similar jokes with us in an interview 14 years agoand also with many other outlets over the decades.) In conversation with Yontef, which also includes excerpts from an older interview, timed to Judge Jerry—knight has some interesting things to say why his series started and how it dated before the modern social media era.
“It’s just democratization of culture as a whole,” he notes at one point, pointing out that the idea “turns the audience into entertainment,” the was crucial for his show, now supports huge swathes of social media and reality TV. “I don’t think you can be an adult in today’s world and be shocked by anything,” he adds, adding that people regularly post things online that would have been shocking The Jerry Springer Show 20 years earlier. Essentially, Springer’s point is that his show worked because it allowed guests to make themselves, if not famous at least publicly entertaining, by overexposure to their various faults or problems; Now, Twitter and Instagram are allowing everyone that, uh, “privilege” without having to hop on a plane to Chicago with three of their least favorite relatives.
Again, Springer doesn’t seem to think much about the moral implications of this destruction of modern culture. (He’d probably argue that spending the rest of his life having his name chanted every time he goes to the airport is probably punishment enough.) In the meantime, if you’d like more insight into what The Jerry Springer Show was actually like from the ground floor, we can’t help but direct you there a favorite of ours: Oyou former AV club colleague Katie Rife’s breakdown the two hellish-sounding months she spent on the show as PA.