This week (26 April 1998) saw allegations that The Jerry Springer Show faked scenarios and even altercations. The popular media responded that no one intelligent ever believed the show anyway, and if anyone did they probably believed in professional wrestling, too.
Well, I'll admit it: I'm relieved to hear that the show was faked. It does something to stave off the feeling of sinking into a morass of amoral mediocrity that always accompanied seeing the show. I'm surprised that they had to manufacture the guests. I seem to talk to people who could be Jerry's kids on a regular basis.
It's not the bizarre guests that are troubling. I kind of like the idea of living in a world where transvestites can pass themselves off as women through a three-year marriage. That's the kind of deception that both partners must share in sustaining the illusion. It adds a harmless possibility to life's panorama. My world is a little more drab knowing these harmless sorts aren't so prevalent.
The vast majority, however, I'm happy to see relegated to the ranks of fiction. It is encouraging that the producers of the show were unable to find men having competitions with their friends to see how many children they could father and not support. I'm delighted to find that there wasn't a line of applicants down the hall consisting of women who decided that lying to their partners about continuing to be sex workers was a shrewd business strategy. If the producers found it easier to hire actors to portray these folks than to find the real people, it indicates that such people aren't as common as I believed. Alternatively, it shows that the real people have some shame.
I realize that my relief is to some degree a comfortable delusion. I am sadly confident that I could find living caricatures who fit my descriptions and who would be willing proudly tell America what they've done. I've met far too many of them, and I don't think I know an unusual number of social outliers.
But rather than dwell on that grim reality, I think I'll take advantage of the first piece of escapism I've seen from Jerry Springer that I want to believe. That being the idea that his guests' numbers are fewer than I fear, or that even the worst of them feel some remorse.