Apparently, the news that The Jeremy Kyle show has been cancelled indefinitely is not shocking to many. Apparently, the show has spent the past 15 years exploiting, demonising, and humiliating those who should be given help by society. Following the death of a participant shortly after taping an episode of the show, the show itself has been denigrated, vilified, and attacked by dozens. Producers have stepped forwards citing how terrible the show is, audience members have reinforced these claims, and celebrities across the board have cited that the poverty porn that The Jeremy Kyle Show offers is but a digital Victorian freakshow.
But where was this outpouring of concern when the show was actually on air, before someone had to die - and why do we only attack things once they have been categorically and universally decried by the masses?
Few recognisable faces – if any - criticised The Jeremy Kyle Show when it was on air. Indeed, it was a terrible show – it did take advantage of those in society who needed help and it was actually fairly boring and formulaic. The show’s entertainment factor was more a novelty of spotting people without teeth or watching people fight so that the bouncers would be called in. Not only was the show exploitative, but it wasn’t very good. Still, not a peep could be heard from anyone that the show should be taken off the air. Not until they had a death on their hands. Are people scared of speaking out against things unless they are one-hundred percent sure that the rabble will be with them?
Take recycling and saving the planet, for instance. The effects of climate change have been known for decades and companies have sluggishly been paying lip service to this fact for a long time. Anyone who fought for better environmental protections and tried to raise awareness was known as an 'eco-warrior', a term which implies they are fighting for something that most people don’t bother with. The tide has thankfully turned and we are all waking up to the fact that the environment is in crisis.
Celebrities and recognisable faces are no longer scared of showing how they are fighting for the planet and it's now trendy to be a recycler. The opinion has shifted away from being an eco-warrior versus being a normal person to being someone who helps the planet versus being a climate change denier or someone harming us all. The onus shouldn’t be on those who have been fighting for the climate, but for those who have been idly standing by. But, many of these people were notably silent on such matters until the overwhelming public majority has decided that climate is something we care about, reluctantly or not.
But back to Jeremy Kyle. The show parades the effects of austerity in front of a live studio audience and subjects participants to ridicule before allowing them help for whatever ails them – whether this is confirming a spouse’s indiscretions or helping kick a nasty habit to rebuild a familial relationship. Yes, participants opt to go on the programme, and yes they are paid nothing for this appearance, and yes they do have access to lie detectors, rehabilitation and other counselling which may not be as readily available. And no doubt many will wear their appearance as a badge of honour, or will have sailed out of Salford Quays not giving a second thought to their appearance among many, many others until they saw the re-reruns several years later.
Unfortunately, one person died as a result. And now many Cassandras are coming forth to say that they knew the show was bad all along. Hindsight is a marvellous tool. It would have been handy for this information from insiders to have been shared before the death of the participant and not after.
We have a strange opinion towards whistleblowing. Take former defence minister Gavin Williamson. While not a traditional whistleblower, Williamson inadvertently alerted the public to possible security issues over Huawei and 5G throughout the country. Williamson was sacked. Had Williamson spoken out afterwards, then he would likely have been in a throng of other people who said that it was a bad idea. Perhaps he would have been sacked for not saying or doing anything. To speak out against something when it is proven bad is one thing, but to speak out against something before anything bad happens would likely lose people their livelihoods.
Indeed, speaking out is never easy. Speaking out against the status quo can be lonely and daunting and can ruin lives. What is easy is joining the masses to profess something. To be safely cocooned in a sea of similar opinions is easy and safe. But, this usually happens after an event has proven that this opinion these people share is the right one.
The incidents around The Jeremy Kyle Show being taken off the air should be a lesson: if you know something is bad, yet it seems popular, speak out against it, lay the facts bare, and maybe further tragedy can be prevented.