For a while now various Judge and Court shows have been on television. It all started 4 billion years ago when Judge Wapner was on the air. Well it is possible that there were Court shows before this one, but I am not really doing a lot of research for this so pretend it is. Anyway, in the time that People’s Court left the air there was a rather large gap, where the world missed out on people’s problems and bitches being thrown out for the world to see in a court forum. Some would call this the golden age of television. Others would complain because they couldn’t get “expert” legal advice anymore for free. Of course there were still shows like Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake to keep people full of the gossip feeling.
Then there was OJ. Everyone thought this was the Trial of the Century, or at least the Network Executives thought so. I personally thought that Brown v. Board of Education or maybe The Scope Monkey Trials would have had a bigger effect on our country. Of couse that isn’t even talking about the NAZI commander trials or the trials to find Communists in America started by McCarthy. OH NO!!! OJ had a lot more effect on the world in general. Therefore the networks said they would show the trial from “beginning to end”. They thought this was a great idea, at least until they realized that the court process and system in general is a long drawn out process that often times contains lots of boring time spent doing legal things. They then realized that people were interested in what happened, but they didn’t want to sit through all the crap of watching the jury get picked and having people present real evidence. This was about the time Jerry Spring really started to hit big time with the fights and arguing.
Thus, Judge Judy was born. She fit the bill perfectly. Here you had a judge that did no reseach (a lot like this article) and didn’t really care to listen to the people too much. This left plenty of time for the people to argue with each other and for Judy to yell things like, “Do YOU think you are Smarter than me? Not on your best day!!” No matter if the person had a degree in astrophsyics from Harvard (not that Judy would take the time to ask). Instead of actually getting facts Judy would make her descisions based on which person used better english, which one stood correctly and which one would answer the above question with the answer, “No Mam, I don’t think I am smarter than you. I am sorry for trying to tell you my side of the case.”
So of course everyone realized that this was a stupid way to do things and no one watched… er, well maybe not I guess. Ok, OK!! We’re sheep. Baaaa, Baaaaa. Yeah we watched. Judy was a huge hit. Spawning a huge revivial of the Courtroom Drama shows. Suddenly we had all kinds of shows to pick from, Judge Joe Brown, Divorce Court, The Peoples Court, Animal Court (Starring Judge Wapner!!!), and Texas Justice. Hell, there even sprung up a whole television network for this stuff, called CourtTV. The People’s court came back with Ed Koch as the judge, and flopped. They then brought in Judy’s husband-ex-husband-husband-again Jerry. The problem was that he was too nice and actually bothered to look through the cases beforehand. This didn’t work so they dumped him and brought in another. This time they fit the bill with Judge Marilyn Milian. Though a few things were changed (such as the Spanish speaking and somewhat younger look) but the general bitchy-ness and reluctance to listen still shown through. This fit the bill and the show stayed.
So anyway where was I going with this? …Um…..Oh yeah, peoples desire to feel superior to others. That is what I think these shows are all about. People want to see other people up there and hear how stupid they sound and how the judge (whomever it may be) can make them seem more stupid. The shows aren’t about justice. They are instead about how best to show the downside to the people that are on there. This lets the audience feel that they are better than these people and that is what they want. Sure some people look at it purely from a logical stand-point but without a doubt before the episode is over part of your descision to personally rule for one or the other will be based on little more than which one looked better, used better english, and which one stood up the best. Why? Because, like the desire to feel better than most everyone else, that is part of human nature.