Monday, May 26, 2008

I HATE Jeremy Clarkson

There are some things that just need saying. I HATE Jeremy Clarkson. Phew, now I’ve said it. Maybe it seems harsh of me to single him out from a number of car show presenters and general public personalities. I feel he merits it though and I’ll tell you why:

Clarkson is not just a car show presenter, he’s the car show presenter. He defines the genre. For many years he’s been the driving force behind the way the television-shows-about-cars industry works. When he first worked on Top Gear in 1988 it was a show that mostly reviewed different cars and advised would-be buyers on the advantages and disadvantages of different models. When it was re-modelled in 2002 he was the main presenter.

Now even when the show first started it had a mixture of male and female presenters. The new version has always been 100% male - and for that matter 100% white and British. And the standard of the banter went with it. Cars that Clarkson doesn’t like are referred to as “gay” or “girly” - as though those were insults. Women are standardly referred to as “birds”. The focus of the show shifted from reviewing cars to frivolously taking pointless journeys, racing sports cars against military vehicles and aircraft and sometimes even destroying perfectly roadworthy vehicles.

As the environmental movement raised awareness of the impact carbon emissions had on the climate, the show could have incorporated advice on reducing emissions, on lower emission vehicles and emphasised that high-speed low-efficiency sports cars were the sort of things to be driven occasionally as a treat if you enjoyed that sort of thing. But with Clarkson at the helm of course that didn’t happen. We can only imagine that after all those years of being given privileged access to fancy cars and events he was so far in the pockets of the motor lobby that he couldn’t see the wood for the burnt stumps where once there were trees. Instead he started making insulting remarks about environmentalists. He bragged about breaking speed limits and complained at length about fuel and congestion taxation, which aims to cut emissions.

Now that in itself would be enough reason for some people to hate the man. I am not so quick to use such strong terms. I can sympathise that there is a market for that sort of misogynist, homophobic* planet-murdering prattle and someone was always going to step up to the plate.

The trouble is he isn’t just a (or the) car show presenter any more. He’s gone to great lengths to present himself as a spokesman for the white middle-class male adrift in a sea of political correctness. His website (and I know, I know, it’s a joke…) says “Jeremy Clarkson - Clarkson information, books, DVDs, forum, and news from Britains next prime minister?”. And if that’s just a joke, why have nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking for him to become prime minister? He writes newspaper columns - and they appear in the political pages, not the motoring pages. His books include collections of poltical essays. The style may be “fun” and chatty to read but he’s covering topics like Basque separatism and war in Iraq.

The first article on the Top Gear website is clearly a 100% political piece written by him and titled “CLARKSON: Soon the annual tax bill for a commuter will be £10k”

Firstly that is a straightforward lie. Road tax on even the most polluting vehicles is £400 a year. If your commute goes in to central London (and if so why the hell are you driving!) you’ll pay £8 a day congestion charge (5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1960) and if your commute is 50 miles each way (then get the train! or at 8 miles per litre, 65p tax per litre, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1991) then that’s £4351 a year - less than half the number he is suggesting.

Secondly the whole point of increasing tax on higher emissions vehicles on unnecessary routes is to encourage drivers to switch to other means of travel and lower emission cars. He grumbles the cost of a tax disc on a Lamborghini Gallardo could rise to nearly a thousand pounds. But given the car itself costs £133,000, I think owners can afford it. And given it emits at least 325g of CO2 per kilometer (more than twice that of, for example, a Renault Megane or a Vauxhall Astra) my feeling is great, lets put the tax up even higher. No-one needs to drive a car like that.

Thirdly - and for the sake of my mental health I’m trying to limit myself to only looking at one of his horrible articles - the thing is littered with offensive remarks. The first sentence refers to a woman as “some bird”. He refers to a female politician as “some orange-haired old bat”.

Then he gets on with denying climate change. Now of course he never says it’s not happening, because it is. Instead he says certain events may not be a direct result of it. Sure, sometimes a freak wave gives you wet feet when the tide isn’t actually coming in - but when it’s up to your knees, best to fold up the deck-chairs just in case. People are already dying around the world as a direct result of climate change. There’s no probability about whether or not it’s happening, it is already happening, the uncertainty is how much worse is it going to get.

His conclusion on the cost of taxing so-called “super-cars” is this: “That’s not taxation. That’s rape.”. I won’t even say anything, I think it’s pretty obvious that’s not an appropriate thing to say.

And that’s on his car show website. So it’s not that he’s been “spotted” on his car show and asked to branch out in to politics - he’s actively choosing to use his car show as a platform for his political opinions. And here’s the real rub: It’s working! He’s kind-of accepted on TV as some sort of lovable right-wing not-afraid-to-speak-his-mind pundit. He’s on Have I Got News…, QI, even Who Do You Think You Are? as though he’s an institution that we’re all comfortable with in the UK.

But are we really all comfortable with vicious anti-environmentalism on the basis of lies? With misogyny and homophobia* from someone who is genuinely trying to influence policy-making in the UK? Personally I’d like to present the alternative point of view in a one-off BBC TV special called “Jeremy Clarkson: Who The F*** Does He Think He Is?”

* Actually he’s been pretty racist too, I’ll leave that for now, I think we’ve got enough to be getting on with!

15 comments:

hendy said...

I am not fond of him either.

Stan said...

He says mean things about people who live in Cheshire too...

He's a grotesque publicity-hungry stereotype and people will soon tire of him (I hope), although it is one of my guilty pleasures to enjoy the way his Neanderthal "character" rubs against the Metrosexual Richard Hammond and the Nerdish James May on "Top Gear".

Vicki Butler-Henderson does an amazing job in "Fifth Gear" on Channel 5 (hardly a feminist utopia), so I do share your puzzlement that it has become such a Boys' Club on the BBC.

Chris Coltrane said...

Work is a bit too hectic for me to write all the thing I want to, so for now let me just say that I agree 100%. It enrages me that people think of him just as a joker, a funster, someone not to be taken too seriously. Because people treat him as a joke in the same way that they read the tabloids while knowing that it's not serious news. It doesn't matter how aware someone is of the trashy contents - if you read it, you will, on some level, take it in and believe it. And the same is true of Clarkson. People will read his book and think it's a bit of a laugh, but most of those people are going to be influenced by his hateful opinions, which is incredibly dangerous.

MissPrism said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MissPrism said...

Sorry - deleted the previous post 'cos I messed up the link. My points were:

1. Yes. He's a git.
2. It's not road tax.

Kenny said...

Can I join your club? And can we have an addendum to the name that reads"(and Bill Oddie)"?

scones with jam and cream said...

I hate him too, and everything he stands for. And I think he's physically repulsive. And I'm intensely annoyed he cheated on his wife. But he does make me laugh (sometimes). For which I hate myself. Love scones x

Anna said...

Sadly, his type exists on my side of the Atlantic as well. Does it ever! OMG!!! And all dressed up as "just a joke." Yeah . . . Reading this post I kept shaking my head - not in disbelief - but in sad recognition of the type of person that he is.

And don't even get me started on "climate change & effect" denial. Makes me want to beat my head against a wall - regularly.

Jackart said...

The reason that he gets 50,000 signatures demanding that he run for PM and you don't is staggeringly po-faced and sanctimonious nonsense like this. You give wet PC loons a bad name. Unless of course you're a parody.

Why shouldn't a bunch of white 40-something blokes blow up vehicles? Race a rubbish car round a track? test drive supercars? Take the mickey out of the Environmental movement? They do so with style and humour that you could never match. Why should they feel the need to be inclusive? They get amongst the best ratings on TV.

I somehow doubt "Inclusive eco-vegetarianism with Kate Sumerthwaite" would get the same number of viewers.

Cruella said...

I'm not saying his shows aren't entertaining, I'm saying his political views are abhorrent and we shouldn't ignore that just because his shows are entertaining.

Jackart said...

You're just bandying around lefty hate-words like "racist" and "homophobic" without really justifying it.

To describe someone who speaks for a quite seizable portion of the population whose views are not otherwise represented AT ALL on the broadcast media as "Abhorrent" says more about you than him.

"Girly" and "Poofy" is not an unnuanced perjorative, and in fact is metaphorical. Man: Strong, Women: Weak, that is an undeniable fact of nature. When you're talking about something as male interest as Cars, whose principal descriptor is "power" that is the way "Blokes" speak. It's not an indication that they despise women or homosexuals. It is harmless banter and if you don't like it, there's probably ethinc yurt weaving or something on one of the sky channels with a high number, if you'd prefer it.

The juries still out on what to do about global warming - he articulates a view of the world that remains common. We do, despite the left's best efforts, have free speech in this country, but koyoto denial (worstall) is not the same as climate change denial, which is not the same as holocaust denial (armendinijad) which shows where his views sit on the "reasonable - abhorrent stage".

I find your views abhorrent, but I engage with them, because I know them to be within the spectrum of reasonable debate, as is Clarkson, who seeks (successfully, it seems) to wind people like you up.

Mostafa said...

Sorry but this is very very stupid. Nobody ever said to be afraid of him. how can u possibly beleive that hes trying to become a politician thats just stupid. its just another one of his many jokes.So he doesnt realy love female driving, what straight man does. Other than that he does say in most of his books that many females are good drivers like for example his wife. He says "She has 3 children but for her love of cars,, she has an aston martin wich isnt a family car." He never said a girly car was a bad car he said it shouldnt be bought by men. thats all. If hes so racist how come females and non "white british people" watch and attend his show. im from egypt and i watch his shows all the time on BBC. If u think hes stupid because he doesnt like environmentalist crap, a lamborgini does cost 133000 and u say it is fr rich people. How about people who buy used cars. they could perhaps get a high emmisions car because they like driving fast and attending track days and guess wat they may not be rich. so why blame jeremy for your crap thats just a bunch of BULL. hes just a funny man who jokes alot and enjoys driving sports cars.

Mostafa said...

Sorry but this is very very stupid. Nobody ever said to be afraid of him. how can u possibly beleive that hes trying to become a politician thats just stupid. its just another one of his many jokes.So he doesnt realy love female driving, what straight man does. Other than that he does say in most of his books that many females are good drivers like for example his wife. He says "She has 3 children but for her love of cars,, she has an aston martin wich isnt a family car." He never said a girly car was a bad car he said it shouldnt be bought by men. thats all. If hes so racist how come females and non "white british people" watch and attend his show. im from egypt and i watch his shows all the time on BBC. If u think hes stupid because he doesnt like environmentalist crap, a lamborgini does cost 133000 and u say it is fr rich people. How about people who buy used cars. they could perhaps get a high emmisions car because they like driving fast and attending track days and guess wat they may not be rich. so why blame jeremy for your crap thats just a bunch of BULL. hes just a funny man who jokes alot and enjoys driving sports cars.

Baby Dust said...

Cudnt agree more wth the author. He drove a jaguar wth a built in toilet around mumbai slums n sniggered at the dilapidated condition of the place n its ppl. Money cant buy u class or an education.

J.P. van Rensburg said...

*sniff*
*sniff*

I smell... Superiority complexes and bigoted, narrow-minded, overly-sensitive sodding know-it-alls with esteem and paranoia issues who just love clawing their dirty little talons into the affairs of the well-adjusted and their public icons. The entire feckin' point of Top Gear is THREE BLOKES C0CKING ABOUT and issuing borderline humour. If you don't like it, you're obviously not man/woman/hybrid enough to take it and therefore have no grounds to express the affect it has on you. I bet the damn lot of you have equally resentful characteristics and MOST would be too shameful or petty to post on such a blog. The man is a free-speaking broadcasting legend and exercises a great deal more honesty with his thoughts than any of you prudish, sanctimonious, paper-thin-skinned commentators - if anything, he's more an upstanding man/woman/hybrid than any of us will be.

TL;DR: Grow a pair. (Yes femanons, it works both ways - confidence and self-worth is universal.)

And the cowardly 'blog moderator' who's likely to read this and immediately delete it, despite posting other mindless drivel from proto-simian lemming-esque complainees - at the very least - will see and read this. So even if it never appears on this page (which would only prove my point perfectly)at least you'll hear some bloody truth.