Well old Jezza’s finally done it. He’s got himself suspended by the BBC. This means that the very popular series Top Gear (one of my personal favourite shows) has been suspended as well, for how long we don’t know. I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, as Clarkson has never shown any sign of changing his disruptive behavioral patterns. He’s just the kind of guy that speaks his mind without considering the consequences, and so far he’s managed to get away with it (just). This time however, it looks as if he might be on his last legs. But does he really deserve to get the boot?
I find Top Gear to be an incredibly entertaining program, not because of the cars (as was probably the original intention) but because of the presenters’ personalities and how they work off each other. And I’m sure a lot of people will agree that the driving force behind most of that humour is Jeremy Clarkson. He brings so much passion and charisma to the screen that it’s hard not to appreciate it. Despite this, it would appear to the average onlooker that Clarkson’s sole purpose in life is to offend people. Throughout his career he’s been known for making remarks that have insulted every manner of races and groups. A lot of these races and groups have cried out in anger, although in my opinion these remarks never actually had any truly malicious intent. I admit that as much as I enjoy watching Clarkson he’s probably not the kind of person I’d get on with in real life, but I still view nearly everything that comes out of his mouth as tongue-in-cheek.
So what is he in trouble for this time? Well, nothing Earth shattering actually. Apparently, he had a row with one of the Top Gear producers and allegedly “smacked” him. Now if his actions were in fact out of line then of course this shouldn’t be tolerated. However, there have been many instances when I think the gravity of his actions has been blown way out of proportion, and some (such as the license plate he sported in the Top Gear Patagonia Special seemingly referring to the Falklands) that may have not even been his fault at all. If this is the case, then is it right to condemn him? A lot of people think so, but he also has his fair share of supporters including fellow Top Gear presenter James May and the PM himself David Cameron.
I’m not afraid to say that I have a certain respect for Jeremy Clarkson. The reason for this is that for all the insults he dishes out on a daily basis, he seems to be able to take just as much himself. If you want an example, I remember seeing a video once of an incident in which someone threw a pie at him as he was about to receive an honoury degree from Oxford. How did he react? Well surprisingly he didn’t get angry at all, he took it very calmly and actually complemented the perpetrator on her pie throwing skills. To me, this is him saying “throw pies at me all you want, I can take it”, and I’m sorry but you have to admire that. Do you know what happened when someone threw an egg at John Prescott? He punched the guy in the face. There have also been instances on Top Gear when he has been insulted to some degree by a guest star and he has always taken it in good humour.
When all is said and done (and Jezza has said and done quite a lot), do Clarkson’s thoughtless comments really have much of an impact on anything? He’s not a world leader or any kind of influential politician, he’s just a silly bloke with a risqué sense of humour that presents a programme about cars. People can easily choose to ignore him if they want, but many don’t. In all fairness his comments and opinions are broadcast to millions of people worldwide and that is a lot of people that the BBC don’t want to rub the wrong way. Regardless, Top Gear has managed to consistently attract high viewership and they have Jeremy to thank for that in large part.
Does everyone have to like him? Of course not, I personally think he’s like marmite: not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t enjoy his brash, outspoken tendencies then you don’t have to watch him, no one’s forcing you to. But I really don’t think he’s worth kicking up such a fuss over, he just exists to provide light entertainment. As for those of us who enjoy watching him on TV, we just take his remarks for what they actually are: dry humour.
Posted by Frank Short