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Suicide, Homicide, Bad Manners and Jerry Springer

Updated on March 17, 2013

Jerry Springer says his show is “stupid” and has “no redeeming social value”. It is the most honest observation I've heard to date from the mouth of Jerry Springer.

The Jerry Springer Show had a significant effect on how many Australians viewed America and Americans. From my own experience, the general reaction I received when mentioning a planned trip to the US changed from "I'd love to go to America" to "I'd hate to go to America, the people there are crazy. Have you seen the Jerry Springer Show?"

In the United Kingdom, a British Broadcasting Standards report in 1999 said that parents feared Jerry Springer's show and others like it were damaging youngsters and causing them to grow up with a distorted view of the world.

Jerry Springer is certainly not the first person to call his program 'stupid' or to suggest his program has no redeeming social value, and yet his show gained sufficient following to result in over 20 series being produced and aired.

When Jerry Springer enters the studio, he gets a standing ovation. Average Americans rise to their feet to greet him as though he is some kind of hero.


Springer says his show is stupid ...

Bad manners

At the very least, the Jerry Springer Show is guilty of encouraging extremely bad manners.

While Springer is always quick to present himself as calm, rational and the voice of reason, for decades he has manipulated individual Americans and their friends, families and often even those who considered the centre of attention to be the love of their lives, into the most embarrassing and confrontational situations.

And then, knowing millions of people would be watching every move, Springer encouraged them to behave badly towards each other.

Springer acknowledges that if the same people had appeared on the Oprah show, they'd be likely to remain seated in their chairs, with none of the extreme reaction that is generated on his program.

In the southern hemisphere, it is relatively easy to distance ourselves from such bad behavior. We can consider violent outbursts and bad manners to be distinctly American, and tell our children that we don't behave so rudely in our country.

Millions of Americans, however, have been exposed to Jerry Springer or had encounters with others who are regular watchers of his show, and there must be a cultural backlash.

Is it, as Jerry Springer boasts, "the destruction of Western civilization"?

At first glance that claim seems typical of Springer's approach to everything ... exaggerate and inflame the issue ... but there might be an ounce of truth in his statement.


A man finds out his girlfriend is a man. That could, I imagine, be pretty soul destroying.

To be confronted with the knowledge that the woman you've fallen in love with is not a woman at all, and the future you'd planned with your girlfriend becoming your wife and pregnant some day could never be a reality, would be a shock for any man. I expect it would be a time for serious self-reflection.

But to be given that news and have your heart broken on a prime-time television program that beams into homes across America and around the world, is a tragedy. Your first reaction is not only on public view but, even worse, in this age of developing technology it is also permanently available on the internet and youtube videos.

I would consider The Jerry Springer Show responsible for contributing to the suicide of any former guest after an episode of total humiliation. Imagine having to go home after the show is recorded, knowing that your parents and your co-workers and your neighbors and the people who work in your local stores may all be aware of your personal trauma.

While I appreciate the right of a man to be a transsexual and be treated with respect, I also respect the right of any person to keep the details of their private life behind closed doors.

I have always wondered why anyone would agree to participate in the Jerry Springer Show. You never see a good news story there. Is there some kind of mistaken belief that their invitation to appear on the show is so they can receive a romantic proposal from their partner?

But Jerry Springer and his team know full well what the outcome of any appearance on their show will be. What do they say to people when they invite them to come on the show to hear news from someone they've trusted?

It is hard to imagine anyone with a conscience working for Jerry Springer.

The alternative to fighting ...


Violence has long been a key ingredient in the Jerry Springer Show. If Jerry Springer and the producers consider it necessary to hire a hefty team of security bouncers to keep the show's guests from killing each other on camera, what do they expect will happen once the participants leave the studio?

Are we to assume that away from the lights and cameras, people will shake hands and go their separate ways? Hard to imagine.

By screening the confrontation and violent exchanges, it seems more likely that friends and family who view the episode on the Jerry Springer Show will become similarly inflamed and the whole issue could flare into physical attacks without the intervention of Jerry Springer's security team.

How many homicide detectives hear mention of Jerry Springer's name during their investigations? Perhaps some day a student will write a thesis on the continuing relationships of people who appeared together on the Jerry Springer Show.

It would be too much to hope that Jerry Springer himself might one day instruct his team to work the phones and find out exactly what the fall-out is when the lights and cameras dim.

Nancy Campbell-Panitz was murdered by her ex-husband after they both participated in an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. Nancy's children tried to take legal action against Springer and others responsible for airing the program, but dropped their charges as part of a negotiated deal when the show launched their own claim against Ms Campbell-Panitz's estate.

I would imagine taking legal action against the Jerry Springer Show would be a bit like trying to tackle an insurance company or any other corporate giant. If you don't have the money to keep paying your own legal team for every appearance in court while an insurance company seeks delays and more and more court dates that incur expenses, you might as well give up.

The influence of the Jerry Springer Show on children

The opening of the Jerry Springer Show contains a warning to parents that the program may not be suitable for children. May not? When was the last time a Jerry Springer Show episode was suitable for children? Has there been one, ever?

I find it hard to imagine that any responsible parent would let their child watch the Jerry Springer Show. However there are undoubtedly parents who don't stop their children from watching, particularly if they are not prepared to change the channel or turn the television off. And many youngsters have a tv in the bedroom, with parents not monitoring the shows they choose to watch.

What was the reaction of Americans when two teenage boys in Florida assaulted their eight-year-old half-sister in 1999, claiming they got the idea from a Jerry Springer episode on incest?

What does any adult think when they see shouting and swearing, hair-pulling, fist fights, and chairs used as battering rams? And what kind of example could that possibly be for any child or young adult?

The influence of Jerry Springer on society

Bad manners and bad behavior should surely not be considered appropriate when dealing with life-changing social issues. Is there no room for any kind of attempt at conflict resolution? Is there no social conscience among the team at the Jerry Springer Show?

Now that Jerry Springer has claimed, "I am the father of the destruction of Western civilization", I would like to think that he might try to make amends and take a different approach.

Perhaps ... "The topics are controversial enough and will attract a following. Let's try something brave and different, and see if we can help people come to terms with these issues without trying to kill each other."

That would be a start.


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    • profile image

      Philip 3 years ago

      Springer's trash-fest of a "talk show" is popular because this is the kind of raw sewage that some American's "value" in terms of entertainment. Who watches this vile rot? I'm suspecting it's the crack addicted, welfare Wanda's who do and anyone else who has no self respect, class, or character; the same blithering idiots who'll plop their obese backsides in their easy chairs and watch "Judge" Judy and the rest of those cheap, scripted, court "reality" shows "Dr." Phil and Honey Boo Boo!

      Well , considering what Jerry Springer is all about: a corrupt one time mayor caught having his jollies with prostitutes. The man certainly has no ethics or morals of any kind.

      And it doesn't surprise me one bit that Springer once studied to become a lawyer. Another lovely occupation wrought with deception, lies, deceit and fraud. Maybe Mr. Springer should consider running for president! He certainly possesses the necessary "qualities" to pull the wool over peoples eyes.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      I read that, CarlySullens. I also read that he was unsuccessful when he tried to further his political career. He studied to become a lawyer, I believe.

      Hmmm. Makes me wonder what other directions his life may have taken, and what his influence would have been.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Very interesting and insightful hub. I appreciate the angel you took with sensationalize TV. It is heartbreaking to see some of these stories play out on TV. And you are right after the camera's are off and the people go home, they have to deal with the ramifications of the sensational TV show that directly provoked their issues. It is very sad indeed. Can you believe Jerry Springer was the Mayor of Cincinatti at one time?

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Yes, SidKemp, there are certainly some positives associated with Bill Gates' contribution to the world. I'm struggling to think of anything positive I'm aware of about JS.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      I think that Jerry Springer's self-description is pretty accurate. His show's method of sensationalism is designed to trigger reduced emotional intelligence and is downright dangerous. This is especially true for children who imitate the violence that they see.

      Bill Gates helped bring down Western civilization by creating a world where we all live with buggy software. At least he's taken his money and is trying to help out in Africa! Jerry Springer should follow his example.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Denise.

      So the woman you met who was on JS, was she paid to appear? I imagine she would have been given air fares and nice accommodation, which can be appealing if you never get a holiday, but did you get the impression she was an 'actress' as some people claim?

      I've worked with quite a few actors over the years, and I am not convinced that JS 'guests' are actors. They look more to me like people from suburbia who have allowed themselves to be put in compromising positions and manipulated.

      Further to your conversation with your sister, I know that lots of people would argue this point, but I actually think that television programming has a lot of influence over the behaviour and expectations of our children.

      Was the Fonz a turning point? He was probably the first 'rebel' to feature in children's television. But even he showed respect to parents and older people. As I recall, he became quite the respectable young man around Mrs C.

      Who would have thought that we'd be among those who say, "When I was growing up ..."? lol.

      Thanks again.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Hot topic here-I cannot stand J.S or his program, and also wonder why in the world anyone would waste his time on such junk...but, alas, there are hundreds who fall into that category-the category that includes the disgusting reality shows, and other nonsensical and humiliating programs that drain the brain.

      1. I actually met someone who was on JS and she attested to the fact that she was directed on what to say and how to act, or rather 'act out.'

      2. The family entertainment shows and educational programs apparently do not bring in the ratings and ratings = money.

      3. Many parents use the boob tube as a babysitter and there is no parental monitoring.

      4. As long as you have an audience interested people like JS will continue to thrive.

      5. People have become voyeurs who want a sneaky peak at someone else's bad behavior and then feed into it with their reactions.

      I'm sorry that his show has portrayed such negativity in your country about American behavior. However, there is a grain of truth in it, sad to say. My sister and I just had that conversation today about how rude everyone seems to be; entitled, and disrespectful. It wasn't that way when I was growing up...what happened?

      Great analysis here-rated UP and sharing.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      No, for the first time in over 10 years I decided to spoil the family with cable, it just so happens to be digital cable (and a part of my internet package). I'm not really one for flicking though, I know the few channels that I gravitate towards otherwise I use the guide on the TV.

      Funny though huh?

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      Hi Justsilvie. When we had cable we used to watch a lot of National Geographic, and I made sure my kids had a dose of old fashioned sitcoms where children spoke to their parents with respect. :)

      Gee, Cantuhearmescream, are you joking about the 200 channels? Even with cable we never had that many. By the time you've flicked through to decide which channel had the best show, the program you quite liked at the beginning of the run would be finished, wouldn't it??

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 5 years ago

      Actually after living overseas for 15 years and then tuning in to American television, I often wonder, why people would call most of it entertainment. I am with the poster above.. Our set seems to stay tuned into home improvement for me and Alaskan life, cars, and gold mining for my husband not to much else on worth watching.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      I can't even tell them apart. Or all of the "reality" shows that are on now; I swear I discover yet another one every night. No I don't care what some Dallas housewife is doing. 200 channels on my television and nothing to watch.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      Even the average sitcom is now filled with sexual innuendo, and how many CSI type shows need to be made before the world has had enough?

      It is hard to find television shows worthy of watching with the family unless you have cable.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      Right on sister! Yes, I think society was content with the "Family Matters" and "Full House" kind of shows, but if we feed them garbage they come looking for more. It's sad what the dream of a dollar can do to society.

    • DIYmommy profile image

      Julie 5 years ago

      So much for the "Family Matters" and "Full House" type programming of the late '80s and '90s. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, Jerry Springer noticed many unfortunate trends in society, took advantage of them, and did really quite well flourishing in a capitalistic society. On the same token, I feel his show is absolutely garbage and wouldn't let me little one within 5 feet of it. It really embodies just how societies morals have degraded substantially over just the last few years.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York

      I thought I saw or read something before about The Jerry Springer show exposed and that it was scripted; maybe I was wrong, which is actually scarier. If these are real people and these are their real stories then it's sad and pathetic how they live and even worse, that others find watching it entertainment. When Operation Repo first came out I had watched it a few times and it seemed realistic. Then I didn't see the show for a season or more and every time after I flipped by after that there were clowns, strippers and midgets? Really?

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      I hear what you're saying, but I think you'll find that the people who appear on JS are real people, not paid actors. Can't speak for the tow-away shows because I haven't seen one, but I imagine that sort of program could also be made with real people.

      Generally towing takes place on a public street, so there's no reason why it can't be filmed. I feel sorry for the people whose cars are towed if they end up on television.

      It is the Jerry Springer participants who puzzle me the most. They must be aware it is going to get ugly before they even walk through the door. I think they should just stay at home.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      Ha, no, luckily they know me well enough to know that I am quite vocal about my opinion, but in person it's in a very non-offensive manner. I get so irritated about ignorance. When I was a little kid and Hulk Hogan was actually “wrestling” for WWF; there were action figures my brothers played with and we watched a little on TV. As I got a little older and realized that it was fake and that it started to become very scripted, dramatic and cheesy and even changed its name to Entertainment rather than Federation, I would get so mad at the teenage friends of mine that were consumed by it. I’m talking about people who were repeating catchphrases and going in from playing to watch it. I used to say “Argh, you know its fake right? I just want you to know that it’s fake”. As if I would accept them following this stupid fake sport so long as they acknowledged it was not real? Boy, what difference should it make to me? I guess I don’t want to feel like my people, my friends and family are the simple people that some TV ratings are meant for and that they are capable of recognizing something so unrealistic when they see it. I done the same thing with my niece over silly dating-type reality TV shows and more recently my significant other over the more man-like shows like Operation Repo and other “tow-away shows”, Lord knows there’s about a dozen of them. Maybe I take it personally offensive when some of these ridiculous shows are aired that TV producers assume that the viewing audience must all be simple folk looking for some “entertainment”. I want me and my people to be excluded from the ratings. Does that sound harsh? I just don’t like to be thought of as simple or predictable.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      Did they make you sleep in your car, Cantuhearmescream? lol.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 5 years ago from New York


      I didn't think Jerry Springer was worthy of a hub, but since you're addressing him in the manner you are, I'm in! Jerry Springer actually appears to be a relatively intelligent person, not an observation made by watching his show, but he knows what sells. I'm going to say it; I picture a certain kind of people must watch that despicable show. Sure, entertainment is entertainment, but what we find entertaining says something about us. Sure, when I was a young teenager and the show was coming out, it was the impossible to miss, everyone was watching it and I caught quite a few shows... and that was before it became scripted. I'll remind you that I was young and immature so yes, I found some entertainment in it. I think that the show is garbage, sex and fighting are almost always the main theme. Affairs and incest usually find the way into most episodes too. A few years ago, I was out of town at a friend of the family's house and was surprised to see that The Jerry Springer Show was still on the air. After I realized that they were actually leaving it on that channel I said "You actually watch this crap?...You know it's all fake and every show is the same episode?" The response was, "I think it's funny". Well I guess simple things for simple people. There are about 10,000 things that I can find humor in before The Jerry Springer show. It's sad that these kind of programs even exist and have any kind of affect on anyone's life. We already live in a bad time with a warped society. I'd love to see shows like this lose ratings and leave the air.