The cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show: Can we end poverty porn for good?

The cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show: Can we end poverty porn for good?

This week saw the daytime TV talk show ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ cancelled permanently by ITV after a guest committed suicide just one week after being publicly humiliated over a lie detector test whilst filming the show. A father, grandfather and an individual suffering from mental health, Steven Dymond’s death has garnered the attention of MP’s, psychiatrists and experts who are all calling for urgent action to be taken by production companies to provide up-to-par aftercare for their guests, with Downing Street adding that the case was ‘deeply disturbing’.

And that it is, but what is perhaps more deeply disturbing is how it has taken fourteen years of degradation of their participants- many vulnerable individuals- across three thousand, three hundred and twenty episodes for the show to be cancelled. Or how 1.5 million people regularly tuned in to watch what a district judge once described as ‘human bear-baiting’ unfold on prime-time tv with their cup of tea and toast as part of their morning routine. Or perhaps how anyone expected nearly twenty-odd-thousand guests, most seeking help with sex, alcohol and drug related problems, to be provided with top-level aftercare by a production company profiting off their pain. And maybe the most deeply disturbing of them all, is the hypocrisy of the MP’s claiming a tv entertainment show, for right or wrong, need to take responsibility for the care of their vulnerable participants, whilst child poverty figures sit above 50% in some of the most deprived parts of Britain.

Reality-tv has provided a platform to spread hate and propaganda towards our societies poorest and defenseless. From shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show who entice guests in with the promise of first-class therapists, a posh hotel and a cigarette allowance before Kyle screams judgements at them in front of a baying audience, pointing our their dowdy appearance whilst they sit in the tracksuit they’ve been encouraged to wear. To documentaries’ such as ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’ which follows enforcement officers as they repossess the homes of those too poor to pay their bills; and ‘Rich House, Poor House‘ which sees families from opposite ends of the financial and class spectrum swap houses and budgets for a week, providing a cruel insight into the lives of their rich counterparts who take pity upon their debts and less-than appealing lifestyles, some of whom take it upon themselves to be their knight in shining armour and buy the poor family a new carpet, before slipping quickly back into their comfortable life in their sought after postcode. And let’s not forget reality shows aimed at a younger audience such as Geordie Shore, who handpicked young adults from working-class backgrounds and struck them off the dole and into the limelight; ploughing them with free alcohol and a new found infamy in the World of television. All of these shows garner Nationwide attention and aim to highlight the worst qualities of the lower-classes in order to humiliate and ridicule for the gain and entertainment of others, all the while whilst pushing an ideal supported by decades of austerity that these individuals are a nuisance to our society. And we the public buy into it every single time.

Reflecting our ancestors medieval traditions, we throw insult and judgement’s at those airing their dirty laundry on our screens, one rotten tomato after another whilst cackling at the despair of others like the sadist’s we so desperately claim not to be; Unfortunately social media only acts as an enabler to these views. I recently watched an episode of Blind Date which portrayed a lady as being a little ungrateful at being picked and who giggled along with the crowd at the appearance of her date. Twitter lit up with negative comments about this woman’s looks, her attitude, how she ‘wasn’t a looker herself’. Tweet after tweet nitpicked away at this woman’s body image whilst she desperately tried to personally reply to all the criticism coming her way by sharing how nervous and awkward the heckling audience made her feel, and that she wasn’t used to being on television. I felt extremely uncomfortable watching all of this unfold, it was as if she had been thrown to the lions and was furiously trying to crawl away, with I imagine very little aftercare on how to deal with such a scrutiny from the Blind Date team. This raised the question Why we as a society use TV as our output in taking so much pleasure from another’s pain? Watching someone else’s misery is a leisurely activity for us, our Friday night wind-down. Our Saturday’s are spent finding their social channels to tell them how we feel about their performance. And as Sunday comes around, we prepare for our own battles we’ll face in the week ahead that are, thankfully, not played out in the public eye, whilst our ‘willing’ participants (a term many like to use to support this theatre of cruelty) deal with the aftermath of their lives changing forever. Chris Lyons, a previous guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show has claimed the show “Ruined my life. All of a sudden, I wasn’t Chris Lyons any more. I was just that guy off The Jeremy Kyle Show”.

No one can prepare you for the mass judgement of others, whether you’re semi-aware of the publicity the show brings i.e: being a contestant on Love Island, to filming a one-off tv appearance you thought would be ‘a bit of fun’. The cancelling of The Jeremy Kyle Show is a step in the right direction toward ending poverty porn and the glee in which others find in it, but whilst production companies have a duty of care to their participants, we have a responsibility as humans to be a little nicer to each other; And to recognise that we are contributing to a class-divide problem which stretches much wider than the channels encased in our small screens. Would Steve Dymond have felt the immense pressure and humiliation which led to him taking his own life from just Kyle’s comments alone? Maybe. But a heckling audience and the thought of the widespread embarrassment and judgement from failing a lie detector test in front of 1 million viewers to come might have just been his tip of the iceberg.


If you are struggling with your mental health and would like someone to talk to, please contact mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393.

International Women’s Day 2018: A day of celebration or cashing in on equality?

Every year International Women’s Day comes around and my twitter feed is littered with bad jokes and genuine concerns from Piers Morgan fans asking “But When is International Men’s Day?!” ERM EVERY DAY FUCKERS (but no seriously it’s the 19th Of November, get it in your diaries boys). But what also litters my Instagram and Email inbox is promo content from brands claiming to support IWD (we’re calling it this from now on, it’s 1am and I’m too lazy to type the whole thing out) by hosting a sale or giving a discount. IT’S THE ONE DAY A YEAR WE CELEBRATE WOMEN AND HOW FAR WE’VE COME, HERE GET 10% OFF OUR KNICKERS!!! Now I’m not dumb (small pause…) I get that this is capitalism. We’re tryna’ sell some damn products and make some damn BUCK$$$ here bitch. But capitalising on a day that was literally formed to celebrate women in Soviet Russia gaining suffrage (that’s right you guys, I wikipedia fact checked, it’s all very professional up in here) to sell a few more t-shirts with empowering feminist quotes emblazoned on the front is quite frankly ….. not very feminist at all.

I mean seriously, I’ve been informed via countless emails that my gym is giving free entry to all females on this day (bitter cos’ I can’t benefit with my monthly membership) – because nothing screams female freedom like a 45 minute free spin class right? Cardi B and Camilla Cabelo have teamed up with Apple Music to make inspirational female playlists just for this day. That’s great n’ all, and don’t get me wrong I love Cardi, like really, I left a poolside cabana with cocktails on tap at the Ritz to go see that girl grind on stage 6 months pregnant for a 20 minutes set last year- but why aren’t they making these playlists and tapping into their female audience before IWD, instead of profiting from the increased streams on a day where women will be looking to feel EMPOWERED? Cos money. And whilst fast-fashion brand Pretty Little Thing have taken a step in the right direction by giving 100% of the profits of their empowering slogan tee’s collection to a women’s charity, they’ve also lugged in a load of other products to the collection which don’t contribute any % and are merely there for profit, because what? M O N E Y H O N E Y . IWD has become another sales holiday for brands to cash in on the current uplifting and inspiring movement of feminism and female-empowerment, instead of actually giving a fuck about the reasoning behind it.

Pretty Little Thing’s IWD Campaign

What happens when the day comes to an end, and the “GRL PWR” slogan tee’s get sent to the sales bin as last months’ fashion trend? Does feminism go out of fashion too?

This may seem like an ill-timed rant of capitalism and jumping on the band wagon of current events, but applauding yourself for posting a #bodypos Instagram campaign whilst ignoring the fact you don’t pay your female employees on time, or ever, is exploiting the sheer audience you are trying to profit from. If you want to make a difference whilst empowering your customers, tell us about your female manufacturers, your designers, the labour workers and the packers. Introduce us to your team, the faces behind your brand. Pay them a living wage. Pay them on time. Highlight female issues and non-profit organisations throughout the year instead of this one day. Give a percentage to women’s charities without shouting about it. Or shout about it whilst actually giving a shit. But let your values and your actions reflect your campaigns and your Instagram posts. We can all do better and lift each other up every day of the year, and not just because their might be a profit margin in it for us.

Happy International Women’s Day ladies. Go do something that makes you smile today.

Ps that is totally fine if that includes shopping on said fast-fashion sites.

Pps that is also fine if it is sitting on the sofa eating shit and watching a sad rom-com.

PPPS THAT AUTOCORRECTED TO RIM VOM AND I FEEL THE NEED TO ANNOUNCE IT IS ALSO FINE IF YOUR INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY INVOLVES SITTING AT HOME WATCHING PORN BECAUSE I FEEL VERY ATTACKED FROM THAT AUTO CORRECT.

This post is sponsored by absolutely no-one, and has been created with absolutely no-one in mind. But I’d like to think you read and related and enjoyed it regardless. Check out my other blog posts at jabberwithjess.com