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Sally Jessy Raphael: I'd send Amanda Bynes, Justin Bieber to boot camp!

Posted by Scott Kearnan  August 8, 2013 04:05 PM

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Guys, a dream came true last night.

No, not Powerball. Better. Sally Jessy Raphael answered my tweet.

"Who is Sally Jessy Raphael?" I hear you ask, my poor post-millennium child, robbed of her no-nonsense sassitude. She was a trailblazing female talk show host generally identified, sort of like my great-aunt Eleanor who I didn't know much else about, by her iconic red frame glasses. Her show flourished during the daytime talk boom of the '80s and '90s, a veritable garden of dysfunction delights. At the time, every host had his or her "thing": Maury Povich became famous for springing paternity tests on deadbeat dads, and Jerry Springer specialized in stripper-slash-meth lab CEO sex triangles. Sally Jessy? She sent bad kids to boot camp. Like this.

I'm really disappointed that the only boot camp-related clip I could find came from 2001. Trust me: it was even more charming in the '80s, when the set looked like the escalator-side "lounge area" of a shopping mall.

"Boot camp" episodes. They were. The best. These were what you hoped and prayed for when you were lucky enough to be home sick from school, eating tomato soup and grilled cheese off a TV tray in your PJs and imagining what all those poor schmucks sitting in Social Studies were doing. (Flash cards, prolly.) They were fun to watch, because it felt like someone was finally giving a comeuppance to all the bad kids on the school bus: the ones that had rattails and insisted on sitting in the single rear seat on field trips. (Guys, it's a seat - not an INVISIBILITY SUIT.) Plus, it was an early entry to the television format of Culturally Sanctioned Sadism that would eventually flourish in the reality TV era. So watershed stuff, really.

Anyway, I follow Sally Jessy Raphael on Twitter because a) everything about that and b) for a 78-year old she's pretty social media savvy. Last night, because it's my job as a citizen of humanity, I asked her the burning question on everyone's mind:


She answered. Did you see that? Sally Jessy Raphael talked to me. My heart dropped to my knees. This was big. One time I got a "favorite" from Chilli of R&B super-group TLC and almost threw myself a party, so I couldn't even handle this. I went for a walk.

Naturally, I tried to keep the conversation going. She didn't respond again, because: who am I? A nobody, that's who. But that's okay. The deed was done: we now have confirmation, from pop culture's foremost authority on Kids Who Need to Get Their Act Together and Go To Boot Camp, exactly which kids need to get their act together and go to boot camp.

The answer is: Amanda Bynes and Justin Bieber. Both of whom (Bieber certainly) were too young to have ever witnessed the cautionary tales that Sally Jessy Raphael so thoughtfully imparted to the wild youth of America, in the form of finger-wagging audience members ("Ooh sweetie, if you were MY daughter...") and drill sergeants who may or may not have just been somebody's Neighbor with Anger Issues in a rented Halloween costume. They never saw these. They didn't have a strong adult figure like Sally Jessy Raphael around to teach them consequences.

I think now we understand where it all went wrong for them.

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About this blog

Scott Kearnan (@thewritestuffSK) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and communications consultant focusing on lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment. He's also a part-time smart aleck and buffalo wing connoisseur. "Media Remix" is where couch potatoes meet pop culture criticism. More »

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