Both Jeremy Kyle and Russell Brand have been in the media spotlight in recent weeks following the disastrous losses in Tunisia. It’s hardly news that the media we witness daily is misconstrued and wishes to feed us with a mainstream narrative that often blocks out a much larger perspective. Essentially, the media wishes to keep us ignorant about many subjects – which is hardly surprising considering the wrath of today’s global climate. Jeremy Kyle does not only contribute to this by holding a role as a columnist for The Sun – but also as the host of The Jeremy Kyle Show – which I’m sure many of you have been blessed enough to watch.
The issue I very personally have with Jeremy Kyle is that he feels he is in a position to publicly target Russell Brand as a “negative cultural influence”. He himself is simultaneously the host of a successful television show which makes a laughing-stock of those who are economically disadvantaged. That doesn’t mean to say that the Jeremy Kyle Show is not humorous from the outset, or even that everybody on the show is necessarily worth defending. Yet when we scrape behind the cheap laughs and the ruin of these people’s lives, we unearth something much deeper; Jeremy Kyle deeply exploits the vulnerable.
Russell Brand is by no means an uncontroversial figure, especially in face of the media. In recent years however, he has been witnessed to campaign for many political causes and has often created a stir with many politicians. I believe he is a man who has genuinely cleaned up his act, and whilst many people still dislike him, he has instilled into many others that they are capable of making a change in the society that they live in. Yet Jeremy has branded him as nothing less than a poor example to society. Jeremy Kyle himself is a man who genuinely torments those who lack the middle-class air of aspiration and superiority. He “helps” few individuals who are desperate, at the cost of deeming a singular economic class to be at the heart of all social ills. Whilst I can appreciate that these social attitudes have existed far beyond the creation of this show, how can this man be so hypocritical, I ask?
Many of the participants of his show come from dysfunctional families who are often harshly hit by poverty and struggle; this is sadly a raw reality for many people across Britain. Jeremy never fails to cut to the bone and exploit these individuals – often for the benefit of people’s sullen entertainment. Subsequently, many of the same participants also claim benefits from the government, which Jeremy often jumps to make a point out of. The fundamental underlying issue is that Jeremy Kyle uses these people to create an immoral image of those who are disadvantaged and from a common lower socio-economic background. I often wonder if Jeremy Kyle would gain quite as many laughs if he exposed those from upper-middle class families, who have never been forced to work and regularly indulge in drug abuse whilst having several ongoing relationships. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? However, I don’t believe that is the politically charged message that he is trying to achieve. Jeremy Kyle is a “miner of poor people’s misery”.
The show is occasionally heart-warming and genuine when reaching out to those in desperate need and participants are sometimes sent to rehab clinics. However, the morality of the programme is delusional from the outset; the show is sponsored by an online gambling company, whilst Jeremy often works with those battling addiction and has suffered from destructive gambling habits himself. The very same man tells parents that they are completely irresponsible, yet reveals the identity of their innocent children to the national public. In a regular show, Jeremy usually casts his guests into superficial and often stereotypical roles, before persisting to stick to his opinion of these people throughout the show. He poses as an almost clerical figure, who dishes out the law with the faces of the audience backing him.
When interviewing guests such as Michael Barrymore or Sean Ryder, Kyle is significantly less eager to shove the idea down their throat that they are pathetic human beings. Why should it be that he addresses and glamorises these people as having a higher moral identity than that of another? Whilst some believe that he is gutsy to tell women that they have no respect for themselves or to categorise others before they can justify their character, I fail to see the appeal. I wonder why we continue to humour this blatant hypocrisy instead of trying to break down the negative stereotypes attached to working class people that Kyle has perpetuated.
Admittedly, some of the people on his show are very easy to dislike and have made evidently poor and irresponsible decisions. Yet who is Jeremy Kyle exactly to raise eyebrows that somebody else has a complex love life or that they have found themselves in a downward spiral of abuse. Either way, Kyle will find a way of rummaging through their lives to fill a regimental fifteen minute slot, before emerging as a God-like figure on the other side of it all. Many people nationally are angered by those who do not work and claim benefits, yet I worry that his contribution to the media is used to justify right-wing attitudes towards governmental cuts and a much larger social intolerance towards many others who are genuinely struggling.
So Jeremy Kyle, I ask you, who is the “negative cultural influence” here? Please, save me some laughs.#
Words by Lydia Ibrahim