Week 2 – The Jeremy Kyle Show

The article suggests two popular criticisms; The first suggest the shows viewer are immoral and that daytime television is wasted upon seeing people humiliated and embarrassed (even if they are unaware) for the sake of entertainment. The second says that “…the popularity of television talk shows is a symptom of societal ills”. That the society enjoys watching confrontation and the shows fill this need.

The shows also increases moral prejudice and create a sense of “public flogging” of people that do not conform to the social norms.

In relation to the The Jeremy Kyle Show, class, is used to separate the middle class house wives/single mums (which is the shows target audience) with the lower class “guests” of the show.
The guests are shown as below average and do not conform to the social norms of the shows target audience and in turn it strengths the stereotypical boundaries of the lower class. Before the show the wardrobe and make up department may make the guest look out of the ordinary and unacceptable to the audience. This is similar to what the reading mentions, ‘Television often succeeds at making real people vanish into stereotypes, at positing real audiences as demographics at best, mindless consumers at worst’ (Birmingham, pp.134). The assertion that television has always relied on a ‘certain passivity in their audiences not only to effectively sell products but also to reinforced preferred ideological positions’ (Birmingham, pp.134) is true because The Jeremy Kyle show is doing the same thing. Audience sitting in the studio include lower class individuals who some deem ‘unintelligent’ therefore, are consider passive.

Below are some examples of guests featured on the show, which can be associated to society’s lower class (or ‘chavs’ here in UK’s society):

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The talk shows have replaced the old age days of the freak show but still similar. As both shows are expected to react to the viewed with disgust and dismay (Birmingham, pp.136), which in the case of The Jeremy Kyle show, still happens as audience still view guests on the show with disgust, horror and laughable reactions. The format of the talk show allows the viewer a say in the discussion, creating a “inverted hierarchy” in which the viewer has the power of judgement against the guests. By empowering the average viewer with a feeling of superiority. This reinforces the hierarchical structure of the societies status’.

Although talk shows are faced by an authoritarian figure, who follows the social norm, the agency behind the scenes provide the content and manipulate the guests of the show. The authoritarian figure is used the steer their guests towards the controversial parts of their story. Even if there is a reasonable explanation. In the case of Jeremy Kyle, he is the only authoritarian figure, the judge, jury and the executioner, all in one. In episodes of the shows, he can be seen screaming and shouting at his guests. He does not take a slow, cautious approach but instead puts down, belittles or humiliates his guests by his superiority and outbursts which often draws reactions such as laughters from the audience present in the studio. This in turn strengthen his superiority, authoritative figure he currently holds.

The reading discusses about how television is used as a tool of consumerist society, that effectively communicates the sovereignty of the status quo and has a goal of producing of a consumer society that is uninterested in politics (Birmingham, pp.134). To achieve this goal, the television must introduce anxiety and offer relief (Birmingham, pp.134). This is mirrors The Jeremy Kyle Show where the ideology of the show plays on the insecurities of the viewer and increases the stereotypes as defined by society. By showing the viewer a person who does not fit the social norm the viewer is able to feel “better” about their own lifestyle and superior within society, even if though this is just a temporary illusion.

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