Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jerry Springer's reflections on the Holocaust

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In his latest book, Empire of Illusion, the Pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent, Chris Hedges, takes a hard look at America’s cuture wars as portrayed by the medium of reality television.

In one stomach-turning passage, he describes an episode of the Jerry Springer Show that Hedges sees as emblematic of the sadism and masochism, the slime and trash, that now typically inform America’s social ethos.

Springer has invited a grossly obese couple to be show-cased in an installment of his program dealing with secret sexual fantasies. The fat man tells his host and, by extension, the studio and television audience, that his long-held secret sexual fanatasy -- one that he wishes his fat wife would fulfil -- would be to get it on with a girly cheerleader.

Soon after, a girly cheerleader emerges from the wings and to the beat of raunchy music gets it on with the fantasist, performing the equivalent of a lap dance for his benefit. His wife who, it seems, is upset by this turn of events, suddenly leaves the stage.

However, in the next segment of the show it is the fat wife who makes her grand entrance attired in a cheerleader’s costume and to the beat of raunchy music performs a groteseque parody of the bump-and-grind of the let-it-all-hang-out “cheerleader” who got it on with her husband minutes before. It is exercise in self-abasement, self-degradation, on a Linda Lovelace scale.

Naturally, all of this unfolds to the raucous jeers and catcalls and hoots and whoops from the low-brow peanut gallery that are the hallmark, the identifying signature, of the Jerry Springer Show.

A decade ago Jerry Springer published his autobiograpical book, Ringmaster! The publisher was a reputable one: St. Martin's Press in New York; the same publisher that cravenly backed away from a contractual obligation to publish David Irving's Goebbels biography, after organized Jewry had applied its habitual thumbscrews.

The final excerpt in the last section of the book, entitled "Favorite Final Thoughts" -- just after "I Cut Off My Manhood!" and "I Married a Horse!" -- is reserved for Springer’s reflections on the Holocaust [“Final Thought: The Holocaust Show, pp. 247-248].

Here ol’ Mr S movingly shares with readers a slice of his family life. He tells of visiting his elderly father at his NYC apartment and of learning how the old man kept a car all primed in the basement parking garage, just in case he needed to make a fast getaway -- to evade capture by the Nazis. Springer picks up the story . . .

“Understand, he was a bright man. He'd been living here in America for almost forty years. Nazi Germany and storm troopers and the concentration camps and the loss of our family, it was almost a lifetime ago -- or so I thought. And how wrong I was. It suddenly hit me: the scars of a Holocaust are forever. Apparently, Dad never had a night where he didn't think it could all come back; he knew how fragile the character of civilization was. 

“But here's the good news. The same species that gave us the slime of a Hitler and his Nazi cohorts also can give us the bravest and most decent humans who graced our show today. I hope our kids were watching. I want them to know that there is good in this world, that there are heroes and not all of them hit home runs -- some just open up their basements.” 

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