Values Of White Trash Essay, Research Paper
Values of White Trash
Coming home from an exhausting day at work, you sit in your recliner to relax as
you hear foul shouting blurting from your child?s bedroom. Curiously you walk towards
the room to find the shouting coming from the guests on the Jerry Springer Show. You
think to yourself, ?why is my child watching daytime talk shows,? or as the majority refer
to it, ?Trash TV.? The storm clouds have been gathering for quite some time now. Is the
end near for Trash TV? Concerned viewers, legislators, and press are worried about
television show content in general, however, some of our trashy Talk Shows have
received more than their fair share of attention in the last few years. What I?m concerned
with is, ?What are these shows teaching our children and how does this affect our
Many of the guests on TV daytime talk shows are portrayed differently according
to the topic; however, the guests seem to all have something in common: their background
and behavior. Watching a variety of these TV daytime talk shows recently, I?ve observed
that the bulk of these guests all appear to be whites, Hispanics, or African Americans of
the lower or middle class. They all come from the same type of living conditions and
crazy lifestyles. People may even mention the words ?white trash,? referring of course to
the Caucasian guests. Insinuating that the background of the guests is inadequate, they do
not mind being ridiculed for their outrageous beliefs and lifestyles. To these guests this is
their normal lifestyle; besides, why do audience members and viewers find these guests?
lives to be so interesting? What make these shows so popular?
It seems that the audience and viewers enjoy watching people spill guts about
everyday garbage life. Viewers are entertained by the mockery of people whom they
aren?t familiar with because there is no connection to the viewers? lives. Watching a TV
daytime talk show from your home television is completely different from actually sitting
in the audience and viewing . While sitting at home, we are protected by a screen, but at
the show a lot of confrontation occurs between the audience and the guests which we find
entertaining back at home. However, that confrontation may be damaging to the guests?
emotions, and somehow we view that as entertainment. ?In these shows, indecent
exposure is celebrated as a virture? (Bennett 29). What has our world come to when we
find people being hurt or taunted as amusement?
These guests are also treated and represented differently at each show through the
hosts. Jerry Springer tries to act, I think, as if he is actually concerned with the well-
being of his guests; however, before his concerned ?last thought,? he will make fun or
?crack jokes? at his own guests. For example, Jerry will call transsexual guests ?it,? or he
will simply make rude comments about his guests under his breath, which keeps the
audience and viewers? entertained. The behavior on the Jerry Springer Show is so severe
that the guests know that something upsetting is going to happen to them. Jenny Jones is
similar in how she treats guests because she seems concerned with their feelings, but she
also throws out a joke or two mocking the guests? behavior. Jenny Jones is also
notorious for allowing the exploitation of young children and teenagers.
Occasionally teens are also exploited on these TV daytime talk shows concerning
their sex lives, disorderly behavior, or supporting their parents. ?Send My Teen to Jail,?
one of the Maury Show topics, viewed delinquent teenagers whose parents demanded their
children be sent to a jail to teach them a lesson, and it seems that in every situation either
the father or mother was not in the picture. This leads viewers to believe that children
from single parent families are more apt to behavior problems. The children guests
demonstrate their delinquent behavior, and society?s children are viewing this behavior.
As a child we are taught to see others doing something, and we learn this to be the correct
way to complete a certain task. For example, children see parents drinking from a cup
with no lid and want to follow their parents? ways. My point is young viewers may be
influenced by the teens or even the older guests on these daytime TV talkshows. Children
are perhaps learning the wrong behavior from talkshow guests, and our future society
depends upon these children.
One topic, ?My Daughter is a Tramp,? on Jenny Jones, was so extremely
provocative that some of the children were crying by the end of the show. The audience
behave like a jury passing judgment on these teens; however, this ?jury? speaks out with
obscene and foul comments towards the children. Why would you as a parent want your
child to participate in this ?circus?? The audience is often occupied by normal working
people and not counselors or doctors who can help these children, so does it make any
sense to allow children to be utilized by the audience members? Parents should have
enough common sense to realize that this can only be more damaging to an unclear child.
Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint believes that a child, unprepared and emotionally vulnerable, could
come ?completely unraveled? (qtd. in Herbert 26). I believe that children go through
stages throughout their life where they may be engaging in wrongful behavior; although, I
do not believe that Jenny Jones is the place to correct these children. Sometimes the hosts
will feature a professional to help the children, but these professionals can only do so
much for the children in front of cameras watched by millions everyday. Yet, our culture
views the exploitation and perversion of these children entertaining while we would never
want our children to do drugs and sleep with twenty people before the age of fifteen.
Our culture is forming a bad habit of picking up the values of this ?trash,? yet we
still find it entertaining. It appears to me that our culture is reflected by these shows
because these guests are actual, real live people, and to me it comes as a warning for those
who do not engage in similar behavior. There are about eight or more of these talkshows
on a day with an estimate of twenty guests, who are real people, or more a day, and if you
do the math an immense part of our society is either a part of these people or are viewers.
I strongly disagree with this TV daytime talk shows topics and torture that occurs;
however, when I come home from college I tune into the latest Jenny Jones Show. Does
this sound rational? No, because if I find it degrading I should not watch it, yet I still find
it entertaining which bothers me. While reading Gaines?, Herbert?s, Bennett?s, and Willis?
essays, I agreed with each of them in one aspect. Showing us that this ?trash TV? is a
warning, Gaines tells how Jenny Jones miraculously saved her life, and Willis feels that
these talk shows allow ?working people? to voice their opinions even if it maybe their
shocking lifestyles. On the other hand, I agree with the opposing authors, and I think that
these shows can be ?child pornography? and are very degrading to the individuals who
choose to be guests.
In closing, I can not grip the concept of gaining values from the ?trash TV?, and I
do not understand how we find it entertaining even when we know it is degrading. Maybe
the entertainment comes from the extra emotions that some guests may have, or the
?staging? may come into play also for our amusement. Yet, do we want to come home to
find our children watching these TV daytime talk shows, and how can we prevent this?
Parents can stop children from viewing by screening the television their children watch or
by buying a chip to regulate the types of programs allowed to be viewed. Current viewers
could stop watching, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. However,
people who don?t watch can continue to rebel against daytime talkshows and possibly get
rates down forcing the programs to no longer exist. I believe in the future these shows
will affect how culture is modified, although not how we as people are change because
that lies upon the individual and not what he or she watches