This project examines the continued success of The Jerry Springer Show. Does the show promote the inclusion of the “other” in the American social order or is it a profit-seeking mechanism that proves only to further uphold a hierarchal American social structure in which some are excluded? By viewing scholarly articles on the talk show format, footage from The Jerry Springer Show, and other critical works in American Studies, I set out to prove that The Jerry Springer Show uses coded mechanisms to create the illusion of a democratic forum which promotes oppositional culture and challenges social norms. This, in turn creates a “participatory illusion” that veils the underlying profit-based motivations of the show. The goal is engaged viewers that question the motives of a seemingly un-refined format, “cheap amusements.” What is the show telling us about American society, and how is its shaping of perspective relevant to how we function as a society?


Carl Culicchia

Michael Newbury
Sponsor & Professor of American Studies and English and American Literatures

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