Article Title:Springerama
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:17th January 2006 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1081
Text:Trailer-dwelling, badly coiffed and inbred. No, not low-rent talkback callers, but Jerry Springer - The Opera! I realise that the very idea may sound oxymoronic to some people. After all, opera is high culture, while it is doubtful whether sentient life exists in the vicinity of the Jerry Springer chat show audience. It isn't neccessarily the case that opera has to deal with historically distanced settings. Allan Berg's Lulu (1935) is set in late Victorian England, albeit with the emancipated female exuberance of the twenties, and deals with female sexuality, and Phillip Glass' Einstein on the Beach (1975) was an abstract modernist riff on the life of the great physicist. Rather like Mozart's source for the Marriage of Figaro (Beaumarchais), though, a censorship firestorm has ignited around the work in question. If I summarise the plot, it might help you to see why. In Act One, the garish incendiary chat show host is joined by a grotesque audience of mullet wearing inbred trailer dwellers, down at heel transexuals, and redneck white supremacists/Elvis impersonators/UFO abductees/all three. He is shot at the end, and the Devil claims his soul. In Act Two, Satan has sequestered Jerry in a demonic version of his chat show studio. It turns out Old St Nick is seeking an apology from Heaven for being kicked out because Jehovah was a control freak. Jesus puts in an appearance as a bediapered adult baby who pouts, but at least owns up to being a little bit gay. And God is a fat inbred Southern US type. If Jerry doesn't oblige, barbed wire will be slowly inserted into a certain bodily orifice- or not, if he does comply. Jerry Springer - The Opera is a West End of London hit, and has even been screened on the BBC, whereupon gentle loving servants of the Lord descended on their phone lines like the proverbial plague of locusts, threatening mayhem. The ringleader of this effort is one Stephen Green, creator of Christian Voice, a Surbiton-based fundamentalist pressure group. Green is a homophobic pest who attacks London Metropolitan Police gay recruitment on his website, and has picketed Pride marches in the same city, and even proved too unpalatable for the UK Conservative Party when his Conservative Family Campaign started attacking gay Tories until it was shut down. He also dislikes women's reproductive freedom, divorce, Sunday trading, Europe, lotto and alcohol. In 1992, he wrote The Sexual Dead End, a scabrous attack on gay rights which was published just before debate on reducing the gay age of consent to eighteen. Meanwhile, despite Green and his followers, British courts have refused to classify the production as 'blasphemous.' However, Green is still trying to get it closed down due to this archaic charge. Unfortunately, his antics have already led to postponement of its Broadway opening, but moderate people of faith in the United Kingdom have turned against the unwelcome sideshow. Unexpectedly, the Catholic Herald, Jewish Chronicle and Church Times have all defended Jerry Springer on the basis of freedom of expression and even argued that the show has a 'moral dimension!' In New Zealand, Jerry Springer -The Opera is available on CD, and there's more information about its domestic controversy on its website. Happily, the show is about to tour the United Kingdom, but it may be some time before it gets to our part of the world. Recommended: Benedict Brook "Hell's Bells" Gay Times 326 (November 2005): 28-32. Richard Thomas (composer): Jerry Springer- The Opera: London: Sony Music: 2003: Two CDs: 117 mins (015700) Not Recommended: Aforementioned obnoxious UK Christian Right pressure group Stephen Green: The Sexual Dead End: London: Broadview: 1992. Craig Young - 17th January 2006    
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