A Brief Note on Top Gear (No, wait, come back!)

Anglonerd’s audience is not the Top Gear audience, but as this TV show is a huge part of British entertainment (Jeremy Clarkson being every liberal’s pop culture nemesis) and since no one has shut up about Clarkson’s firing in the last two months, I think it deserves a tiny bit of notice here. If you are somehow unaware, Top Gear is TV show where three middle-aged men in tight jeans talk about and drive various cars, all while saying things that are racist, sexist, and homophobic. The show has been on for 22 seasons and I can only imagine how much money it’s made for the BBC. One of the three hosts, Clarkson, was “unrenewed” after punching his producer Oisin Tymon, but not, as reported by the Telegraphbefore calling him a “lazy Irish.”

top-gearFirst off, how does this affect us here on the American fronts? Well, BBC America won’t getting any new episodes of Top Gear, and if the lads’ new show is truly picked up by Netflix, as rumors have it, they won’t have access to that either. If you’ve ever read this blog, you’ll know I’m a huge champion of BBC America, but my one beef with it is there is just too much Top Gear clogging up the airtime. And I know that as a television station it’s not their job to choose sides of the political spectrum, but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when it seems like the two most aired shows on the station are the boys who have no problem saying things like “Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat,” and the other show is Star Trek (not British, by the way, as it was run my Lucille Ball’s company, no matter what Patrick Stewart’s accent tells you), which combats racism through metaphoric science fiction scenarios because at the time criticizing racism on mainstream television was taboo. Which side is it? So what does Top Gear‘s cancellation mean for BBC America? Are they going to license something else to fill the slots or will it be more Top Gear reruns? We shall see.

Now, there’s the question of how genuine the three presenters are. Are they really as right-wing and prejudice as they pretend to be? I’d like to think they’re so over the top that they’re satirizing those sorts of people, but let’s face it, it’s a TV about boys seeing how fast they can drive cars. It’s not exactly heady stuff. And Jeremy Clarkson is either playing a character or being true to himself, depending on which interview you read, the day of the week, and whether Jupiter is in alignment with Io. Even Steve Coogan, who’s guested on the show thrice, wrote in the Guardian that the banter is offensive and that he’s had enough. Now, I don’t know much about James May, but I have met Richard Hammond, and, no matter if Stewart Lee’s onstage persona says he’s the worst of the three and wishes he’d been decapitated, I found I couldn’t hate him as I hate his show. He came across as humble and personable, didn’t say anything offensive at all. Even his standup comedy, which could have given him an excuse to say something off color, was just about getting kidney stones.

Well, anglonerds, I haven’t drawn any conclusions for you. I’m not Top Gear savvy enough to do that, and you wouldn’t read me if I was. But if you like cars, why not go check out FullyCharged? It gives you actual facts about the environmental impact of the cars they test–Imagine that! And nobody says anything racist.


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