This is a view of the line waiting outside the Rich Forum Theater in Stamford, CT earlier today where they film The Jerry Springer Show. No fisticuffs were thrown, no chairs heaved, no cat fights, hair pulling, or exposed breasts were seen in line.
I initially snapped this photo because I was somewhat shocked at how many people were waiting in line for the show. I thought, damn, that’s a lot of people, not working on a Tuesday morning, standing in line to see what is essentially a repeat of virtually every Jerry Springer episode aired over the last 15 years. It’s not like Tom Hanks is going to unexpectedly show up and surprise the studio audience. It’s not like Jerry’s going to give out Volkswagen Beetles to all the audience members. It’s not like Maroon 5, Kanye West, or Katy Perry is going to show up to perform.
I don’t want to offer any sort of critical analysis of The Jerry Springer Show here. That’s been done by far too many people who are much better (and much worse) writers than I are. It is what it is and everyone knows it. But seeing these people wait in line for the show made me think of something else in the process.
The Jerry Springer Show, like many other cultural events and entertainment acts, has found its comfort zone where only the truly devoted fans participate and enjoy it. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. The usual arc is this: an act begins and starts to gain popularity based on its entertaining, yet outrageous antics which push the boundaries of acceptable societal behavior. The act, mainly through word-of-mouth advertising, spreads nationwide and reaches critical mass. That’s where the media critics and naysayers come in and attack it incessantly. The act, as a result of the criticism, becomes even more popular. But the popularity inevitably wanes as the public grows weary and a new act comes along to divert people’s attention. What’s left over is the absolute, 100% percent hardcore fans who will lay down in fucking traffic to defend whatever act they’re supporting.
Some examples of this, besides Jerry Springer: pro wrestling (to a certain extent); the Insane Clown Posse (who are keenly aware of this); and director Kevin Smith (I would venture to say he views this as a positive now). There are plenty of other examples, but they all share the same thing — a truly devoted fan base that loves everything they do.
There’s pros and cons to this. Because the hardcore fans love what you do, you’ll always have a forum to keep doing what you’re doing. But it can be difficult to change and evolve. The fans, even those with blind allegiance, can be reluctant to change and the rest of the public will still view the act as irrelevant no matter what. The best case scenario is that the devoted fans trust the artist’s evolution and sticks with them. At that point, who gives a shit what the rest of the public thinks? That’s the ultimate reward for an artist.
Ask Kevin Smith as he tours his new movie Red State around North America without distribution or a studio’s backing. Maybe you’ve heard of the movie, maybe you haven’t, but his 1.85 million Twitter followers are selling out venues all over the place. No mainstream media, no critics, just true fans. Total artistic freedom, that lucky bastard. Snooch.
I haven’t watched The Jerry Springer Show since my days onboard the USS Rushmore in the late 90’s when it was lunchtime must-see-TV on the mess decks. The place would go crazy when some chicks started whaling on each other because they were both madly in love with some half-Puerto Rican, half-Senegalese blue-eyed midget leper who was proficient at roller skating and could make a bitchin’ origami swan. We would howl and laugh while we forced down a heaping helping of chicken tetrazzini for the 4th time that week. It was fun watching it as part of a crowd, but it never really did anything for me other than to watch people losing their minds while they watched it. That’s the point, though. It’s not for me, it’s for the people waiting in this line. And I’m perfectly OK with that.
But I really want to see Red State. I want to see it real bad.
Categories: Seed Views