Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
Jerry Springer may not be the world's most evil man, but he is certainly one of the most shameless opportunists and exploiters of evil going. You want greed, hate, and treachery served to you, all with the self-satisfaction of watching people inferior to you? The Jerry Springer Show is the ticket. This award is not so much for what Jerry Springer is, but what he represents. The stories that have captured the attention of the American public seem to have a Springer-esque spin to them, whether they be a "love" affair that nearly destroys a deserving to be destroyed president to the mass shootings at Littleton, Colorado. "I'M HAVING SEX WITH THE PRESIDENT!" "ANGRY GOTH ROCKERS WITH WEAPONS!" It really is no wonder why our society is as screwed up as it is, and it should be no surprise - considering that the most popular TV talk show has its format designed to encourage violent confrontation - that the violence ultimately spills out like it does. That the mentality that The Jerry Springer Show caters to is so popular is a sad indictment of American culture.
The Jerry Springer Show may be the current low point in trash pop culture, but the saddest thing is this is ultimately only a temporary title: soon enough, the next generation of trash talk show hosts will replace him, just as he has taken the mantle from the likes of Geraldo, Jenny Jones and Ricki Lake. In 1994, Platoon and JFK film-director Oliver Stone released Natural Born Killers, a film which savagely exposed modern America's sick appetite for destruction (and, unsurprisingly, was attacked by small-minded people for supposedly celebrating those urges.) Five years later, Stone's warning seems as urgent as ever. When a culture celebrates senseless violence, banality and shocking sensationalism, it is only a matter of time before people start following the model. Some people consider Littleton a wakeup call: a better description of the massacre would be a preview of things to come.
In the unlikely event that Mr. Springer can no longer fill his duties as Beast of the Year (such as doing something shockingly decent), Reverend Fred Phelps is ready to take over the crown. Rest assured the BOTY trophy is in good hands either way, as his mixture of hatred and Christianity is a brew that too many readers found irresistible.
If, on the unlikely event that both Mr. Springer and Reverend Phelps can't perform their Beastly duties, we always have William Cohen to fall back on. As the bombs continue to fall on Kosovo, Cohen, the Secretary of Defense, seems as safe of a bet as anyone to continue on the path of Beastly deeds.
In any case, we salute you, Jerry, Freddie, and Billy. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!!!
* Note: What about Peckergate?
There are Beasts, and then there are MEGABEASTS. Peckergate is a MEGABEAST that has throbbed off the Beastly scale all year, outraging and shocking people like no event.
Why, then, was it not one of the eight finalists for Beast of the Year?
To begin with, to recognize the Beastliness of Peckergate is to announce that Cindy Crawford is attractive, or that Donald Trump has an ego. It is completely unnecessary.
Further, though Peckergate is indeed detested, where do you focus the Beastliness at? Kommander Klinton? Hillary? Ken Starr? Linda Tripp? The list goes on and on: even BOTM winners Richard Mellon Scaife and Henry Hyde are too much part of the Peckergate Octopussy to be recognized individually.
In the end though, there is a far greater reason why Peckergate is not Beast of the Year for 1999: with charges of rape swirling against Bill Klinton, it seems as though this story has only begun.
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