Sunday, 6 February 2011
I've never really understood the appeal of BBC's Top Gear programme. It wins lots of TV awards and has a cult following of millions who tune in to watch the motoring show and the antics of it's three presenters. I sit uncomfortably watching Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May who have developed a persona as naughty, indulged overgrown schoolboys who are paid magnificently to drive fast cars, naff cars or crash cars in usually very exotic settings. More recently, the Top Gear presenters cannot simply present a programme about new cars and their performance. They have to 'entertain' us with showcasing their naughty comedic talent and outspoken 'laddish' behaviour. This week sees new controversy following comments made on the TG programme. Following the debacle over at Sky Sports with the other two outspoken imbeciles Andy Gray and Richard Keys, the three presenters have proverbially fallen on their arses by making unwise remarks about the Mexicans. Richard Hammond's remark last week that "Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus". Clarkson added that Mexican ambassador would be sleeping in front of a television so wouldn't be able to muster a protest. And even May joined in the joke by remarking that Mexican food is "just sick with cheese on it". The moronic assertion that all Mexicans are "lazy, feckless and flatulent" sounds suspiciously like publicity-seeking racism and deliberately courting controversy. Juvenile prejudice taken not from experience but sounding like a stereotypical assumption taken from watching 'Hey, Gringo' Hollywood westerns. The same old assumptions that 'women can't possibly know the offside rule' or 'did you smash it?'.
Comments like these are as nauseous as they are offensive. These are middle-aged, highly paid and dare I say.. middle-class men who present a motoring programme. Being edgy, cool and anti-establishment by making outspoken comments whilst wearing naff haircuts and naff jeans and jackets combo's fools no-one. What surprises me more, is that these three are viewed as role models and receive almost God-like status. They wear their offensive behaviour like a badge of pride and are indeed applauded for their outspokenness and blokey high jinks. But like Keys and Gray at Sky Sports, you can only get away with impunity from offensive remarks for so long before tolerance runs out.