Jerry Springer is a smart guy, and certainly not someone we take for a bigot. But his show scrapes at the bottom of the barrel of cultural commentary, more often than not serving as a platform for audiences to gawk at the problems of the less fortunate.
And not just gawk at, but judge, mock, degrade and ridicule as well.
You could say, “all the guests are there on their own free will,” but who’s the one cutting the checks at the end of the day, propping up the three-ring shit show?
A common theme for the show is “trannies,” a word that is as loaded as any these days, and certainly one that can easily be offensive when used by someone who is very much an outsider (like oh, say, Jerry Springer) of the trans community.
The Huffington Post recently asked Jerry about the perceived transphobia of his show, and he had this to say:
“We have transgender people on [‘The Jerry Springer Show’] all the time, a lot. In fact, there’s probably a lot more exposure on our show than anyplace else.
You don’t get on our show unless you’re are doing something that is inappropriate. Our show is about people behaving inappropriate.”
And questioned directly whether the show casts transgender people in a negative light, he reasoned that, “We hear that from any community.”
For his part, Springer has always been a supporter of LGBT rights — something he’s keen to mention — but does that let him off the hook?
If you’ve ever seen transgender people on his show, you’ll remember the predictable oohs, ahhs, and groans the audience emits when a trans person is “revealed.” “He-She Confessions!” prompts the image above. The laughter, the pointing, the hooting and hollering — how can this be perceived as supporting the transgender community?
Then there’s the word “tranny” itself. Believe us, we aren’t about to go open that can of worms again, but back in March of 2014 Springer told TMZ:
“I’ve just been educated. I won’t use [the term ‘tranny’]. I honestly had no idea that you’re not supposed to use that term, so now we’ll find another term to use.”
And yet as of today, here’s the weekly lineup on Springer’s website:
Right there in the middle, some Wednesday night entertainment for the family — “Trannies Twerk It Out.”
And let’s just take this lineup as a sample set. Porn star — chosen profession. Two episodes about marriages on the rocks — marriages that two people choose to be in. Stripper fights — crass, yes, but chosen profession nonetheless.
Then there’s “Trannies Twerk It Out.” Are we the only ones who see a difference?