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The Jerry Springer Show

Describing Americans' responses to The Jerry Springer Show, Bill C. Davis writes, "the joy of watching 'lesser low class humans' parade their infidelities and unresolved attractions or pregnancies. Big hit. Sponsor bonanza." (Photo: The Jerry Springer Show/screenshot)

The Worm Was in the Fruit

"The consciousness of the American population is fragmented as major issues are discussed and reported only to be interrupted by the more important matter of what you need to buy."

Bill C. Davis

In the 1969 documentary The Sorrow and The Pity, a young German worker says about Germany prior to World War II: “The worm was in the fruit.” I was thinking about this here and now from a cultural perspective. What is/was the worm in America's sweet plum? 

For this government, and its voters, look to the culture. Look to the prevailing posture of anti intellectualism—indifference to beautiful architecture and humane city planning. Look to movies produced with weekend box office bonanza as the only barometer for meaning. Look to television series mass produced by slick cynics. Look to news programs that break for commercials, which primarily sell drugs, and by necessity suggest, and in some pernicious way, invite disease. 

"The collective mind of the American population is seduced daily, hourly, into simplistic adrenaline rushes and trivialities."

The collective mind of the American population is seduced daily, hourly, into simplistic adrenaline rushes and trivialities. The consciousness of the American population is fragmented as major issues are discussed and reported only to be interrupted by the more important matter of what you need to buy.

Television shows that aim to sell junk as it presents approximations of human behavior are the midsection of the worm. 

As much as America loves her, and even though she is on a stamp, what do we make of I Love Lucy episodes ending with Ricky (a husband) angrily spanking Lucy (his wife) after her lies catch up to her? As America laughed and still laughs at this sight while jaunty music plays can we assume no signals were/are being sent to adolescent boys and girls? The worm in the fruit was/is that men are honest—women lie—and a man can physically punish a woman because she lies. And it's funny.

Or how are we to interpret an episode of Friends where the two main girl composite characters, by way of bribing or rewarding one of the main composite guy characters, make out with each other in front of him, for his pleasure, not theirs, we assume? 

What can anyone make of a show in which some blonde “Ubermensch” fires people. He gets to say it and a wide audience for some  reason tunes in to watch the crestfallen face of the loser. Thrilling. Great ratings. Jerry Springer—the joy of watching “lesser low class humans” parade their infidelities and unresolved attractions or pregnancies. Big hit. Sponsor bonanza. Judge Judy snapping at hapless plaintiffs and defendants as she is rude and riled with antipathy. Isn't she smart? She doesn't let them get away with anything. 

Parody at this point is an opioid. And it's a drug not coming from across the border—it, along with all the other trivial and inane cultural offerings that saturate the market and American consciousness, is in the fruit.

During a debate a Republican candidate said, “We need more welders and less philosophers.” Wild applause from the Republican audience. The idea that these two things are not mutually exclusive never enters the conversation. Be a welder and a philosopher.

Christian philosophy, or culture, if one accepts there is such a thing, might want to be the guide for the current administration and its posse even as they pose at a prayer breakfast. But what would they do with this quote from Christ: “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” when you're braying “America first?” A mulligan on this one too? “He who exalts himself will be humbled, he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Whether he's the reason for the season or not, these are keen observations from the putative Salvator Mundi. His image may be sold for 450 million dollars but his philosophical thoughts are free and priceless and for the regime American citizens have just elected, useless.

Parody at this point is an opioid. And it's a drug not coming from across the border—it, along with all the other trivial and inane cultural offerings that saturate the market and American consciousness, is in the fruit.


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Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis was a playwright, writer, actor, and political activist.  He has been a contributor to Common Dreams since 2001. Bill died on February 26, 2021, at age 69, after a battle with COVID-19. Bill's Broadway debut — “Mass Appeal,” earned two Tony nominations and became a staple of community theater. Bill wrote the screenplay for the 1984 film adaptation of "Mass Appeal," starring Jack Lemmon and Zeljko Ivanek. 

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