"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Thursday, 27 September 2007

…And Justice For All?

A cuckolded husband, David Staniforth, has become the first person in the UK convicted of assault on a TV talk-show after head-butting his wife’s (now live-in) lover on the Jeremy Kyle Show. The Judge made the following comment,

“I have had the misfortune of viewing The Jeremy Kyle Show and it seems to me that its whole purpose is to effect a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people who are in some kind of turmoil.’

‘It is for no more and no less than titillating members of the public who have nothing better to do with their mornings than sit and watch this show, a human form of bear-baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment.’

‘It shouldn’t surprise anyone that these people, some of whom have limited intellects, become aggressive with each other. This type of incident is exactly what the producers want. These self-righteous individuals should, in my opinion, be in the dock with you, Mister Staniforth.’

They pretend that there is some virtue in putting this out there. These are wholly exceptional circumstances and the degree of provocation was so substantial that I propose to deal with you in an exceptional way.’
-District Judge Alan Berg

The defendant was given a minimal £300 fine for the assault. A small thought for the Judge, police or CPS: Incitement To Violence is still a criminal offence…

Mr Staniforth says he only agreed to appear on the programme after one of the producers had told him there was a chance of reconciliation with his wife. The defendant’s estranged wife is claimed to have warned the programme makers he might become physically violent but claims that the show’s security guards were not near the stage when her lover was brought out.

“We were told [by the programme-makers] it would be better if we didn’t go to the police because if we did there was a chance the show wouldn’t go on television.”
-Mrs Staniforth

“Before the guests went on stage there were at least two production staff on hand to wind them up about what their friends or family were saying about them… They were being selective about what they said… they were just relaying things that could have been insulting if taken out of context… There were girls working for the programme who sat in the audience generating ‘oohs’, ‘ahs’, boos and hisses.”
-Camerman on what he witnessed filming an as yet unbroadcast episode.

“…the programme never encourages or tolerates violence.”
-ITV Spokesman, 25/09/07

Why do they need such huge security guards waiting in the wings… they never needed them on Noel’s House Party and such-like!

“It is made clear to all guests prior to going into the studio that no violence is ever tolerated. On the rare occasions when physical aggression is displayed, we take immediate steps to contain any confrontation, if necessary involving studio security.’

‘The programme provides an opportunity for people to resolve pre-existing disputes and personal issues on neutral territory, with the offer of counselling, mediation and support, which is on-going following their appearances.”
-ITV Spokesman, 27/09/07
Mrs Staniforth says she received only one further contact from the show’s makers after filming and that was the night before it was broadcast.

“We do not recognize the district judge’s description of our programme.”
-ITV Spokesman, 27/09/07

Do I hear hollow laughter resounding across the land? Do they watch a different version of their programme to the one that gets broadcast to my home? Am I the only one who receives the version where Kyle aggressively tells guests what awful people they are?

I would advise you to watch this noxious show, just once, to find out what it’s all about then dig out the Optrex. Watch and decide if this is a forum ‘to help everyone resolve their pre-existing conflict’ on ‘neutral territory’. If you do find yourself with the time to watch morning TV may I recommend watching The Wright Stuff on C5.

“…a violently dispiriting talky bumcast like The Jeremy Kyle Show”
-Charlie Brooker, Screenwipe

I would say in the Jeremy Kyle Show’s defence that surely people should have the sense to check out the programme they are thinking of appearing on to find out how people are treated. However, it has been found in past studies that everybody thinks they’re going to be the exception and won’t get caught out or provoked by TV makers. This is thought to be one of the reasons that some people think they can safely go on Big Brother without ending up looking like prize-prawns.

There has been a lot of fuss about varying levels of faking, deceptions and manipulations recently so where would this sort of show sit within these ranks? It certainly seems to be deliberately manufacturing confrontations and situations but then again other shows for a variety of reasons have to take the occasional short-cut to become the programme that they need to be, often-times with no desire to mislead or deceive the audience. Maybe the focus should be on what the programme makers want the show to be.

Personally, I find Kyle to be little more than a bully… and like all bullies I believe he does so as he has a position of impunity, in this case by dint of his authority figure position. If he acted this way in some pubs he’d wind up with his face slit. I find his programme all but impossible to sit through in the same way I find it hard to watch news-footage of any bullying, happy slapping or dog fighting. Does antagonism, prejudice and intolerance actually improve the spiritual well-being of the viewer? Does broadcaster sanctioned bullying effectively legitimize other forms of bullying? Children learn their behaviour from adults but when adults behave like children what chance does a society have?

The only thing that really surprises me is that an incident like this hasn’t happened before on a British Talk-show. I was talking with someone about this incident and I was asked what qualifications Kyle had as a therapist… turns out he was a DJ. If I worked all day on this programme, I’d spend all night in a bath of bleach hoping to get clean.

Recently, there was a small uproar about ‘a bunch of young toffs’ making a film about ‘chav-hunting’. The makers were young and, hopefully, didn’t know any better (proving what a waste an expensive education can be). Are shows like Jeremy Kyle’s so very different? Is it not worse for the fact that at least in ‘Chav-Hunting the Movie’ they were only acting as the people they held in contempt?

And now to cheer you up after all that polemical ranting follow the link for an amusing clip from Dead Ringers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPZcN-PiomI

…and that’s my potential career with ITV well and truly screwed!

…but would I really want to be on the same channel as Kyle?

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”
-Groucho Marx

*And I really hope that nothing in that’s libellous!


Chip Smith said...

God knows why, but I used to watch a lot of Judge Judy, which I think gave people more of an opportunity to "resolve pre-existing disputes and personal issues" than a show like Jeremy Kyle ever will.

Personally speaking, I can't stand shows like these, mostly because I'm not entirely sure that the 'guests' know what they're letting themselves in for (regardless of the fact they have no doubt signed all the relevant release forms). At the very least, it makes for uncomfortable viewing - at the worst, it verges on exploitation. And doesn't there seem to be a weird class thing going on as well?

I'd rather watch a bit of opera to be honest!

Jon Peacey said...

Having read one of the features in the papers subsequent to the Judge's comments I'm pretty sure that there is an element of mendacity to the guest selection process: Mr Staniforth turned down requests to appear 3 times from the producers, 3 times from his daughter (who'd actually contacted the programme) and only relented when it was intimated by a production member that there was chance of reconciliation with his wife.

As for the class issue: I'm absolutely sure there's some weird nasty stuff going on... it's always pseudo-Middle Class people poking 'Chav-type' people with sticks! Bread & Circuses!

I've been thinking of ranting about Class in the near future, I'll have to get on with it...

Valentine Suicide said...

I'd like to see someone headbutt Jeremy Kyle. Preferably Trisha Goddard... (obviously without the use of real violence, which would be abhorrent)

Then take both of their shows off the air, delete all the previous episodes from memory and return the test card to it's rightful place as king of daytime tv.