Before TikTok they had Daytime TV. The most infamous and self-referential – really Hollywood “Generation X” shit – the most hipster of them all was Jerry Springer.
These shows had always staged fights, and some were likely real – Al Sharpton and Roy Inness were really fighting I continue to believe – but on Springer the producers had a very clever gimmic,. When someone started fighting the crowd was supposed to chant “Jerry” as opposed to one “side” or the other.
Shows like Morton Downey Junior had some rather “serious” racial issues dealt with in ways that were politically correct for the time but would get any non-Silicon Valley approved Content Creator censored today, just for telling the jokes.
But most of it was staged, in professional wrestling lingo, it was “worked.” I tell the story of a guy I knew whose girlfriend wanted to be an actress. They bought a camcorder, maybe a thousand bucks in those days, did their audition about a lover’s triangle, and “white trashed” it up because that was the gimmick.