I’m not sure who’d be surprised that Jeremy Clarkson exists in a universe where he doesn’t personally know a single person of Mexican lineage. That the witless, hate fuck commentary of the “Top Gear” host and painfully unfunny colleagues Richard Hammond and James May is the result of the British public footing the bill to hear “three rich, middle-aged men laughing at poor Mexicans” hasn’t escaped the notice of Steve Coogan, who knows a thing or two about portraying a character almost as inconsiderate as Clarkson. From Sunday’s Observer :
OK, guys, I’ve got some great ideas for your next show. Jeremy, why not have James describe some kosher food as looking like “sick with cheese on it”? No? Thought not. Even better, why not describe some Islamic fundamentalists as lazy and feckless?
The BBC’s initial mealy-mouthed apology was pitiful. It cited the more benign rivalry that exists between European nations (ah, those arrogant French, over-organised Germans), and in doing so neatly sidestepped one hugely important fact – ethnicity. All the examples it uses to legitimise this hateful rubbish are relatively prosperous countries full of white people. How about if the Lads had described Africans as lazy, feckless etc? Or Pakistanis?
The Beeb’s hand-wringing suggested tolerance of casual racism, arguably the most sinister kind. It’s easy to spot the ones with the burning crosses. Besides, there is not a shred of truth in Top Gear’s “comic” stereotype. I can tell you from my own experience, living in the US, Mexicans work themselves to the bone doing all the dirty thankless jobs that the white middle-class natives won’t do.
The Lads have this strange notion that if they are being offensive it bestows on them a kind of anti-establishment aura of coolness; in fact, like their leather jackets and jeans, it is uber-conservative (which isn’t cool).