Are we prepared to have someone die in the name of entertainment?
PUBLISHED: 12:01 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:19 15 May 2019
I never really understood the attraction of the Jeremy Kyle show or why anybody went on it.
I always imagine people going into work the next day, or walking through town, with everyone knowing that you have cheated on your wife with her sister or that the child that was supposed to be yours was actually the window cleaner's after a DNA test on national television just ripped your whole life apart.
How would you feel then, once the stardust and the attention of a TV audience have evaporated and you are just someone who has washed their dirty linen in public for all to see?
Jeremy Kyle himself has never really appealed to me either. He comes across as so self righteous and perfect, if not a little bullying to people who rarely seem verbally dextrous enough to come even close to giving as good as they get.
I've heard rumours that off air Kyle is lovely so I wish him well, as this must be a terrible time for everyone involved in the show after guest Steven Dymond died a week after failing a lie detector test.
Naturally, just as happened when a contestant died on the Late Late Breakfast Show in the 1980s, the show has now been taken off the air and won't be returning.
I can't see that ITV could do anything else.
But before we get all self righteous and Kyle-like ourselves about this, the reason the show has remained on air for so many years is because people love to watch it.
Even though I've never much liked the programme, I can't deny that I have, on occasion, wasted an idle hour watching people humiliate themselves as a way of reminding myself that at least my life isn't that bad.
All of us who have watched it, even once, and enjoyed somebody else's pain, have played our part in what has happened.
The only surprise is that something like this didn't happen sooner.
It seems to me that the age of reality TV is beginning to implode, what with the suicides of Love Island contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis recently and talk of poor after care for people who appear on these programmes.
The reality is that anyone compelled to appear on reality TV will have issues that won't be solved by a television appearance.
Most people don't want everyone to know their business so those that do are, in many cases, shouting out their pain so that somebody might listen and try to understand.
But we haven't listened and we haven't tried to understand.
We have just watched, google-eyed, and done nothing.
Stopping shows like Jeremy Kyle may well help.
But until we stop rubbernecking mental health problems instead of formulating a proper Government policy to deal with it properly, nothing much will change.
Kyle may be gone, but some other way of watching the Christians take on the lions will soon appear in its place.
It's not about stopping these programmes.
It's about us stopping watching.
So, no matter how much we enjoy these diversions, we need to start asking ourselves if we're prepared to have someone die, so that we can be entertained.
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