Stanley Roberts said he doesn’t report on crime. He told SF Weekly, “I do the quality-of-life issues that affect us all.”
SF Weekly recently did a profile on Roberts whose franchise on the San Francisco Bay Area’s independent station KRON is called “People Behaving Badly.”
Roberts travels the Bay Area looking for people doing things, well, badly. Do you ride your bike through stop signs? Did you forget to publicly post your restaurant’s most current health department report? If the answer is yes, chances are you’ll run into Roberts at some point.
A couple of years ago when Roberts recorded a man who was getting a ticket from the CHP for driving illegally in a carpool lane, he became the subject of a viral video. (watch the video after the jump)
He refers to the misbehavior he’s been seeking out for nearly eight years as “minutiae … there are always more important things.” But this, for his own reasons, is what he’s compelled to film. And, God help us, it’s what we’re compelled to watch. Footage of city workers dozing on the job or men hurling buckets of human filth onto one another on Seventh and Market are wildly popular, even in far-off lands where, perhaps, this may qualify as normal behavior.
Roberts’ inbox is constantly full. KRON established a hotline just for his segment. When he’s on BART, fellow riders monopolize his commute with People Behaving Badly pitches; his minor adventures have earned him celebrity status. In a moment of unintended irony, Roberts was asked, “So, is someone behaving badly here?” by a tone-deaf guest at a funeral both were attending.
He receives missives from viewers in Asia, Europe, Australia, even Greenland. A Scottish man told him that weekly People Behaving Badly parties are held there, in which the three-minute, jauntily narrated clips of societal misconduct are consumed in marathon sessions. One aficionado matter-of-factly informed Roberts that he watched every People Behaving Badly segment on YouTube. He did this in alphabetical order, from “AC Transit vs. Stop Signs” to “You Should Never Grab a Reporter!” — and all the 1,197 videos in between.
Clearly Roberts is on to something. His 5 o’clock news segments have garnered some 10 million online views from folks who have, all but certainly, fudged the carpool lane, texted while driving, or pissed in the bushes. The appeal of his show isn’t watching lurid crimes, but observing people behaving in a way we’re capable of, if not guilty of. These people are recognizably us, caught doing what we try to get away with doing.
You can read the entire feature by clicking here.
Here’s the Roberts video that went viral: