The end has come for Jeremy Kyle.
Or at least the end has come for his early morning circus of misery and pain.
Researchers who vetted possible guests by asking them to answer questions about their medical history, including which medications they were, or had, been taking in order to wheedle out how mentally unstable they were.
A line was drawn for schizophrenics and those who had been committed to psychiatric hospitals but if you were taking Prozac you were just the right kind of mad and the red carpet was rolled out for you.
“That implies that it was the right sort of mental illness to be entertaining for the viewers” is how Jon Ronson described the way that the researcher on the show fed him the information when he interviewed her for “The Psychopath Test”.
Selecting people you know to be vulnerable to be presented in front of a baying mob of an audience in the name of entertainment.
Working class people with little money, drug and alcohol problems, familial disputes, failing health, sometimes little education, dragged onto our television screens after being whipped into a frenzy by staff on the show.
On the proto-Kyle show “Tricia”, allegedly, one participant who was convinced his partner had been having an affair was told, seconds before going onto the stage to confront the possible lover; “He’s had his cock in your wife“. This led to a violent confrontation on the set.
No matter how you carve it up the truth of the matter is that shows like Jeremy Kyle reveal something deeply unpleasant about everyone who watched it. You can hide behind the cowards defence of having watched it “ironically” if you like but the truth is that you were participating in poverty porn. The poor and vulnerable being used and abused to titillate you. This is a rare occasion when I can very nearly take the moral high ground, having only ever seen clips of the show online. What struck me when I saw them was how quickly I found myself laughing at people and reaching judgements…
That was no accident, the show was engineered to provoke exactly those reactions.
One former guest has revealed that he was encouraged to wear a tracksuit and not jeans…isn’t that clever? Stick him in a tracksuit and he’s no longer a bloke or a lad, he’s a chav. Instantly. Tracksuit = drinking lager on street corners during the day, benefits cheat and all sorts of other ugly stereotypes.
Then there was the shows reliance on lie detector tests to prove guilt. Something that is, for very good reasons, not permitted as evidence in a court of law was used here to condemn people of awful “crimes” like abuse, theft, infidelity and dishonesty. The reason that such tests are not allowed in court is because they are completely unreliable and people can learn how to pass them by watching videos on YouTube. But there was Jeremy, waving the results of the test around his head and screaming in the face of the “guilty” party to admit their wrong doing. He was judge, jury and executioner.
You have to wonder about a person who wants to make a living out of such misery. What sort of person can knowingly sow the seeds of disharmony into the lives of strangers and try to present their actions as “entertainment” or as a “service” of some sort? I’ll tell you if you like…a psychopath. Don’t think so? Read the psychopath checklist…
Glib, superficial charm?
Grandiose sense of self-worth?
Excess need for stimulation?
Lack of guilt?
A parasitic lifestyle?
Getting the notion?
It would be nice to think that this would be the end of this sort of television but, sadly, I don’t think it will be. It’s a ratings winner. It’s cheap. It gives us what we want…until we let them know that we don’t want it.