tag : bright yellow-green apples: Je-rry eleison

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Je-rry eleison



figure 5.8. few microphone erectile issues

Well after all that fuss, I must say I came away from watching "Jerry Springer the opera" with some bemusement. To put it simply, it wasn't all that offensive. Maybe it was that all the hype, the Media Watch warnings of thousands of swearwords, the evangelical bishops charging wanton blaspheme, and so on just couldn't be lived up to in reality. Maybe it's just my liberal slant of outlook, though I get the impression I'm far from alone in the Christian communities here (Dave Bish gave some right sensible criteria to bring to a viewing in this earlier comment). Either way my first reaction - aside from that it was actually a very enjoyable couple of hours of witty energetic comedy - was that I couldn't see what all the hysterical fuss was about.

If those who had pre-emptively (for most people, as with the Brass Eye special of paedophilia, didn't wait for informed comment before spouting forth) complained with such fourcefulness had held fire for long enough to first watch it, they would have found some engaging tales of modern life. Without wishing to do a spoiler - look away now if you don't want to know too much - it's split into two halves. The first consists of a dramatic summery of the 'best' Jerry; triple crossing lovers, infantile complexes, aspiring pole dancers, and junkies, with a baying crowd. The format of highly charged music that opera affords actually does the drama no end of good, adding extra impact as the protagonists volly at each other. Instead of being annoying daytime tv, we here see the everyday stuff of ordinary life revealed as the epic it is; with all the betrayals, realisations, comings out, reapproachments, loves, devastations, anxieties, high ecstacies, banalities, and fears as the greats like Wagner might hope to accomplish. That it gets these grander themes in with very comtemporary stuff (the vain lust for fame, the hollow heart of media relationships, somehow glittery in surface; "cover me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbiens"), and all shot through with sharp irony, is quite an acheivement. All this is completed by revolving around the central locus of Jerry Springer himself having his own internal struggle (oh but what a conscience figure it turns out to be!) on the very worst day of his life...he's shot as a bunch of Klu Klux Klan members show off thier tap dancing skills.

The second sees a sudden shift in scope, as the devil co-opts Jerry into resolving his own eternal rift with Jesus (the threats of being unsucessful, rather than accountability by ratings, here include "being fucked up the ass with barbed wire"). Of course we see the same dysfunction in the 'holy panthian', with the sycophantic Jesus and the bitter Satan pettily ignoring each other, Jesus getting into a slanging match with Adam and Eve as fists fly, and God arriving to seek solice for lonliness. Suddenly Jerry is catapalted into the viewer's sympathy as he fights desperately for his own future and against the endless moronics of his guests (here finally write large into the transcendent - yes I think the greatest twist of all is that these parts are played by the very same cast as starred in the first half, thus solidifying the whole humanisation of these holy supposedly untouchables). At the very end, in the near fatal vortex, he finally comes into his own and achieves a measure of realisation for himself, and all around him, with an exposition worthy of the Buddha or St Paul.

The finale comes as we're treated to the whole cast dancing while dressed as Jerrys, while the main guy rises in thier midst dressed in white to choruses of "what the fuck, fuck, fuck...". Talk about religious overtones, yes in this whole web of hilareous irony we see the eternal themes of religion thrown into the slew of our modern condition. The neysayers and moralist concerns really did miss the point. It holds a mirror up to our western anglo world, and more - it actually sneaks in some subversive themes of the very intergrated proximity of the human and the divine. While we all struggle with the very best and worst shocks of our television reality world, the divine is in there with us - the incarnation says no less than this.

8 Comments:

Blogger Martin said...

I didn't see the programme, so I can't say much except thanks for the thorough review. Also, Bish's points were excellent as well.

Seems to have passed off with little hoohah, as it goes...

3:56 PM  
Blogger ash said...

What I found, perhaps, funniest of all was when Satan and Eve are questioning the Fall, Jesus sits with his hands over his ears singing "God's Plan! God's Plan! God's Plan!..." Which reminded me, somewhat, of some of the more entertaining, though bemusing, encounters I have had with the less educated conservative evangelical types.

Yes, there is a challenge there for the church too, and it is not to see who can shout "blaspheme!" the loudest.

9:55 PM  
Blogger ash said...

also, this page was filtered out at school... :oP

9:55 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Martin –

Yeah, the most interesting reaction now is how many Christians seem to have hit an anti-climax, finding that it’s not the end of broadcasting morality, and so things have quietened down again.

Ash –

Yey, the second time I’ve managed to get myself filtered, I must try this more often! There were many good such one liners as you’ve recalled, excellent satire. Let’s see if the Church as a whole can notice before it simply falls into the pit, like the tabloids did with Brass Eye.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Ash - blocked, eh? It's what I'd expecting from degrading filth by a deliberately controversy-mongerer like Laurence.

4:28 PM  
Blogger ash said...

interestingly, our head of sixth talked about this in assembly. He did wonder why we british seem intent on absorbing all the "rubbish" that comes out of America... cheifly this referred to the actual show i think.

also, he mused at why it recieved so few complaints when it was in the theatre... and said that, as a drama teacher, he wondered if the theatre was relevant anymore, or if people only care about TV.

He then wondered whether it was blasphemous (he is a CofE "lay minister" (nowadays a lay-reader") in a village church that I have never known to be in anyway evangelical...). He did seem rather upset with it, (he DID say he wanted to watch it before deciding his opinion, which is the sort of sensible thing I would expect of him).

He wondered what at all people would get upset about, or whether we aren't allowed to get offended anymore. He also said he doesn't doubt that if it was poking fun at Islam, a Fatwa would have been issued, and what this said about attitude to religion in Britain. (looking at Rushdi as an example, to be fair, he is probably right on this...)

interesting anyway, i might have a chat with him about it sometime...

7:10 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

That all sounds interesting indeed - let me know how it goes. A quick little comment though, I would be very sure myself to point out that there is plenty of good creative/inventive/subversive/challenging culture coming our way from the USA as well as the tosh.

And yes, I am utterly shameless in trying to get attention - even if it takes mild controversy of my own to gain it ;)

1:10 AM  
Blogger Ruthie said...

Damn, just as all the good stuff goes on British TV, I move to the US :(

I missed this and I missed Derren Brown's "Messiah". Please someone tell me they have it on tape?

4:20 PM  

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