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Saturday
Mar142015

We don't know what happened.

Try as I might, the Clarkson story keeps seeping back into my world even though I have repeatedly tried to throw it in my already bulging ‘pointless celebrity gossip’ bin.

I once again wish to repeat, although I disagree with everything he has ever said he still makes me laugh sometimes and I vehemently defend his right to be casually racist, slightly homophobic, generally misogynistic and a comically cyclist baiting bully.

If you make the mistake of reading any of the recent newspaper reports about this fracas the comments below, no, don’t even look, but the comments are very divided.

There is a sizeable group that loath him, they just want him gone and are jumping at the chance to hasten his fall from grace. There is also a sizeable group that worship his every move, hate the BBC who pay for and broadcast Top Gear, hate wet liberal tossers like me and want real men to drive real cars in the real world 

These old school proper men are very angry, before anyone knows what actually took place in that hotel, they’ve all rushed to sign a bloody petition to save Clarkson.

It’s easy to see both sides in this nonsense have overreacted, but I am going to stick my limp wristed, namby-pamby, save the Polar bears lefty neck out and say the Clarksonites have overreacted more.

They want their Sunday night entertainment and some member of the ‘PC brigade’ at the BBC has spoilt it for them. They don’t care what happened, Clarkson is God, everyone else is a nanny state control freak who won’t let them say the words they all say to each other all the time, like normal blokes having a normal conversation. Normal racist slurs, normal misogynist references, normal, run of the mill homophobic banter.

I’ve been the recipient of this normal male anger many times. If I write or say something about electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels or the fact that’s it’s time we ditched the tired old internal combustion engine, I get abuse from this same, small minority. 

I’ll be accused of being a do-gooder, a lefty moron, a tree hugging pouf, a vegetarian cyclist, not a real man, an eco Nazi or most confusingly a member of the ‘PC brigade.’

What the hell is the ‘PC brigade?’ The politically correct brigade I assume.  Do you know anyone, seriously, anyone who is politically correct? I don’t. Do you know anyone who has ever used that term seriously? I don’t. If someone said ‘you are not being politically correct’ I’d call them a tosser.

But then when I think about this, I wouldn’t casually use racist terms, I wouldn’t try and belittle a man because he was gay, or a woman because she was a woman. Not because I don’t want to offend anyone but because I don’t have those feelings. I don’t think I am better than a woman, a black person, a gay person or a Muslim.

The only people who ever use the term ‘PC brigade’ are people who are desperate to shout racist, sexist or homophobic abuse in the street.

Clarksonite men cannot understand how the world has changed around them, how they are not, as they feel they should be, still the most powerful, most respected people in the world. They don’t see themselves as a minority, they see themselves as normal and everyone else is weird, foreign, female, gay or has skin the wrong colour.

But Clarksonites are a minority, if you look at global population data a very small minority who clearly feel they don’t have a voice. Hence the rise of the abhorrent UKIP.

In Clarkson’s particular case he is not a powerless member of a powerless minority, he’s very well connected. I saw him last year at Cornbury Festival having a fag with Rebekah Brooks, the ex editor of the News of the World. They are pals. I say no more.

He’s pals with our current Prime Minister. I say no more.

He has a column in the Sun newspaper where he vents his ‘world is unfair to white men who want to drive fast’ spleen. He’s very rich and powerful and having met him a couple of times, he definitely is a big and imposing figure who is clearly very used to getting his own way.

Who knows what will happen to Top Gear. For all these criticisms I’d be very sad to see it disappear. Or go on Sky because I don’t have Sky for all the obvious namby-pamby liberal reasons.

For the many on Twitter who have suggested I put my name forward as his replacement, I’m flattered at the consideration but I would rather extract my own teeth with rusty pliers than step into that hornet’s nest. For a start I'm just another old white bloke on the telly, there's enough of them already

However, if the BBC was to dare to re-launch a totally different show about cars, the impact they have on our world, the wonders of new technology emerging, the idea of not owning cars but still having access to them, the true impact their construction and use, the true impact our demand for fossil fuels has, and it was presented by 3, funny, politically incorrect women. Now that's worth considering

 

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Reader Comments (30)

Ok Robert, I'll bite. But maybe not in the way you think.

I have no idea what Clarkson fans are like. If you look at the audience for Top Gear a few of them seem to be not men at all! But I like the show and, grudgingly, I'm not totally against the man either.

Clarkson himself, of course, is ALL the things you say he is. I don't have any trouble believing that at all. And, so it seems, most people are actually quite in agreement with that. There are plenty of self-confessed Top Gear fans who freely admit that Clarkson is a cock. Maybe even a Tory cock. Myself, I dislike Tories as much as anyone else. I'd never even consider voting that way. Its worth noting that both his co-presenters, with seeming sincerity, also freely admit that Clarkson is a cock.

And yet all over the place I hear that if you like Clarkson you are automatically a Tory or even, horror of horrors, a member of UKIP. Well, pardon me, but I think that's just abuse with no relation to any basis in fact. It's all part of the polarising that happens around Clarkson. If you like him you are something horrible and if you don't you must be an electric car, solar power, wind turbine loving leftie. Well, I'm sorry, but that's a load of nadgers! Being fan of, or anti, Clarkson has nothing to do with party political lines. If you think it does give us your evidence. Its just the case that some people like him and some people don't.

What the anti-Clarksons never get is that you don't need to agree with anything at all that Clarkson says or does to like his show and his public persona. In fact, that persona is the appeal. Yes, I'm saying that some people like other people who they think are idiots! But it is only a persona and only the most foolish think otherwise. Far from being credulous fools I'm convinced that almost everyone knows what Clarkson is. These same people realise that you don't need to personally sign up to everything Clarkson says and does to like his show. To think otherwise is just silly. I agree with almost nothing of his politics but find his show to be an hour's enjoyment most times I've watched it. Some of the longer films (such as the Polar expedition - which I think was the first BBC thing they did in HD) were visually stunning.

So must we really engage in terribly lazy debate based on nothing more than fully-formed, pre-determined prejudices? I know that's all that will happen in the media but I'd like to think that people such as yourself are a bit above that and look a little deeper.

Clarkson is a cock. But sometimes watching someone be a cock is mildly entertaining. And I don't need to mow down cyclists and chainsaw wind turbines to think that. Neither does anyone else.

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBilly

Irrespectivr of whether he is a cock. Irrespective of whether he is mildly entertaining. Irrespective of whether its the PC brigade trying to spoil people's fun by censoring Clarkson...

In the real world IF you hit someone in the workplace it is highly likely that you are going to face some sort of disciplinary procedure... in most places you do tend to lose your job

Clarkson, no matter that various parts of the population and the media seem to think is some sort of god... is actually the same as the rest of us.

he is subject to the same laws... and that includes the right to a full and fair investigation and judgement... equally he shouldn't be let off the investigation because of who he is... I don't like bullys. I dont like trial by media

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpennie

Robert,

It is really hard to improve on what Billy said since it was so cogent and thoughtful. The only thing I can add is that I don't agree with some of the things you espouse but I still enjoy Red Drwaf, Car Pooling and the entertainment you bring me. The same holds true for Clarkson-I disagree with many of the things he espouses but do enjoy Top Gear and the surprising history programs he has fronted.

I also don't know the circumstances of the current incident but working in the industry, I do understand how cross crews get when they don't get their meals. I do know that Top Gear would not be the same without the trio of presenters and would likely fail rather quickly. That would be very sad for the crew and the money they bring to the BBC to help fund other programming. The old saying cutting your nose to spite your face comes to mind.

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKurt

Like your replacement show proposal. As long as the cars still go sideways, I'm sure it'll still be popular.

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBenjohn

Sorry as an FE lecturer who was on strike over pension changes, being informed publicly on national television that I should be put up against a wall and shot wasn't very pleasant it certainly wasn't a joke bad taste or not and convinced me to never ever watch Top Gear again. I now nothing about his politics or want to know. I know many, many people who work long hours and never have a meal laid on for them and never hit their co-works because of tensions its irreproachable and you would get the sack. I just wish I didn't have to pay the BBC licence fee to help give this man a salary.

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

Ruth, you don't give the man a salary. Top Gear has made far more money for the BBC then it has ever cost. That's why they pay him at all. That's why they bought the format outright from Clarkson. A 350 million worldwide audience makes the men at BBC Worldwide smile. Watch how fast they lose it after he's gone.

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBilly

Oh Billy thank god for that I would hate to think that I was supporting him in any way shape or form. :)

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

Loathe, not loath.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

I don't agree with everything he says or does. But, you have to understand, he caters to an audience. I don't think his fans are a "minority" if it wasn't for Top Gear, much of the world wouldn't bother tuning in tongue BBC at all. Obviously being shown in over a hundred countries, someone needs to like it.

Sure, some of it is over the top, but that's the part he plays.

I don't get mad when he goes off about something particular to me.

I don't get mad when Graham Norton "Picks on the straights"

I didn't get upset when Rimmer grabbed Jesus' todge with cooking tongs and you Robert, stuffed a camera up it.

Why?

Because it's entertainment. One person's laugh is another person's offense. You can't please everyone, and you have to cater to your target audience.

Or is it the stuff he says isn't funny because he's not a "comedian" as apparently they are the only ones who can get away with it.

I like you Rob, but I think you are reading too much into it, especially when even you yourself can be seen as having been offensive in the past.


Now, punching out a producer, I can see the point there, I concede that point, it was a stupid thing to do. Of course a lot of his antics are stupid things to do too, but that is someone's entertainment value.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGrey

I don't mind hist racist jokes and what not, that's just his style. I don't find it funny or entertaining, but if that's what he wants to do, that's fine with me. I don't even really mind the fact that he just loves mischaracterizing the usefulness of plug-in cars. No, what bothers me about his show is that it doesn't even try to point out that it it factually incorrect and that he will blatantly lie about plug in cars but deliver all of it just as if it is fact. If at least I thought it was funny, but I don't. So I wouldn't be sad to see him go, but I do agree that the reasons they currently use might not be the right one.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSurya

If he hit someone he should definitely face a penalty. he should face some sort of penalty. I do not even like Top Gear as I find it very overdone and childish. "I don’t think I am better than a woman, a black person, a gay person or a Muslim" I do not think Clarkson thinks like that at all rather he is not a presenter in your usual BBC style.

Robert i will say that i really like your opinions on a lot of things. I would agree with your views on getting the rich to pay tax and the need to change how we generate energy. I just think that a lot of people can like Top Gear as a show even if Jeremy Clarkson is a bit over the top. Jeremy Clarkson once said that the Holden Vectra was a car that "looks like it was made during a coffee break" which I could have taken 'offence' to if i wanted to. First of all the term 'offence' does not really have any meaning because it cannot be quantified or measured in any objective way. All somebody has to do is assert that they feel 'offended' and we treat it like that has a meaning beyond feeling upset because something nasty was said.

I do not agree that liking Clarkson or Top Gear has much to do with your political views. Whatever the political view of the presenters they make an entertaining program. I think it was over the top to turn this into a debate about whether we like minorities.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames Line

Like him or hate him, the sad fact is that the program has been paid for, the presenters have been paid, the producers have been paid, so who's the loser? Well I am actually because I watch Top Gear and tonight I've had to watch highlights of the Grand Prix instead. I wonder if I'll get a refund on the license fee. Fine Clarkson ££££'s, sit both parties in front of a judge for arbitration, sack both of them if you must, but why should the loser be the Top Gear viewers? Sadly lamenting the loss of Scrap heap by the way, I loved my moments in the spotlight. Good luck Rob!

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Hi Bobby, thank you for a thought provoking blog.

I have likened previous demands for Clarkson to be sacked akin to demanding Basil Fawlty be sacked as the hotel manager. The Clarkson we see in the media is a caricature; an outspoken, brash and insensitive version of Clarkson the man, who is in fact a shrewd and talented self-promoter and journalist. He knows the media circus inside out and knows exactly what he's doing when he courts controversy. Joe public, it seems, is ready and willing see him in this light and obligingly drum up the publicity he needs in order to sell his latest DVD or book. I'm surprised more haven't cottoned on to this already.

I also think the BBC is misguided in airing it's dirty laundry in public as it has. If other public sector (taxpayer funded) employers were to publicise details of confidential HR matters as the BBC have, they would be strung out to dry. Somehow the BBC feels that is it unique and that normal procedures shouldn't apply, instead preferring to embark on it's own version of media whoring in order to achieve its' goal of dismissing an anchor without whom, the world-wide phenomenon that is Top Gear would never have been realised.

Trial by media is a sham and it seems to me that the BBC is a willing participant when it suits their political agenda. For that they should hang their heads in shame. 'If' Clarkson has acted the way his is purported to have done, so should he. However you can find youtube video's of someone assaulting Clarkson after receiving an honorary doctorate, simply because he drives cars! I remember the celebrations of the Daily Mail types and the gleeful cheers of "he get's what he deserves"! Clarkson responded with a cursory "good shot"! What happened to that misguided assailant? There is much hypocrisy at work.

I don't know what actually went on last week and it is not my place to know in any case. Whatever the eventual outcome, I think Clarkson will be just fine. Meanwhile the BBC will have sunk to a new low. Now that is a shame.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

I quite like watching Top Gear, and once investigated getting tickets to go see it. Amongst the things learnt in that investigation is that if you are a bloke going to the show you have to take a woman with you (or vice versa).

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I wonder how many people will tune in to Top Gear when Clarkson is inevitably reinstated and they finally show the next episode.

Quite a lot I imagine, just like quite a lot of people tuned into Top Gear after Argentina and all the other 'scandals' and 'fracases'. It is almost as bad as X-Factor and hasn't stopped since Richard Hammond's crash. I'm not saying the crash was a publicity stunt, but certainly the producers learned a lot about how many people tune into a show when her presenters have been in the news.

I like Clarkson as a presenter, and I don't think it's political. But nevertheless, I won't be signing any petitions. I could happily watch a rebranded Top Gear about cars, for a change.

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Reading this, a couple of things occur:

1) Recent entries in the Pokémon franchise have absolutely ruined the '-ite' suffix for me, so my brain is having fun wrapping it's head around the idea of "Clarksonite".

2) Given most of the flack Clarkson has gotten lately is for being politically incorrect, I'm confused how replacing him, Hammond & May with three politically-incorrect women is supposed to help...

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Wilkinson

I always thought it was fairly obvious that Clarkson was playing a role. He's become nothing more than a caricature of himself, and has become more and more crass of late in an attempt to keep himself relevant. At his core he is a really good journalist, and when he's doing something sensible - like a basic car review - on Top Gear he's actually pretty good at it.

I quite like Top Gear - there's something about the bonhomie between the 3 presenters that I find oddly comforting, and although sometimes this crosses into idiocy, it doesn't ruin the rest of the show for me. There is a bit of the sense that the 3 of them are like stagecoach drivers cursing the Model T when it comes to electric cars, although with that being said, they've been a bit more open to some cars like the Porsche 919 and the McClaren P1 - I think they (particularly Clarkson) are coming to accept that electric cars are viable. It would be nice if they could get around to taking a look at the Tesla Model S, but it seems unlikely that'll happen given their history with Tesla.

Like Billy said, liking Top Gear doesn't automatically mean that you endorse or approve of everything Clarkson says or does. What a boring world that would be! The frothy-mouthed types that I seem to see on the Guardian make that assumption, and it's nuts. (they also seem to think their TV license is paying for Clarkson when as already established, it's not - because Top Gear makes fortunes for the BBC). Hell, I'm pretty liberal most of the time, and watching TG hasn't turned me into a little Englander!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris Ballard

Many people here seem to think the group that Robert is criticising are the show's fan's. This is not the case - especially since he self identifies as a fan!

I can only suggest the people that left with that impression re-read the blog.

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTheWatcher

@TheWatcher I have to say; that's not how I read it. Comments just seem to express an opinion, not berating Rob in any way. Fans of Rob will know that although he does not share any of the opinions or political sentiments of JC, he enjoys the program for it's outstanding entertainment value. Clarkson is the Antichrist to just about every environmental issue there is, but we need Clarkson's in this world because when unchallenged, the Greens give us the Earth Centre. Carrot and stick in the correct ratio is what we need, not all stick!

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNick

@Nick, he eliminated any doubt with this tweet: https://twitter.com/bobbyllew/status/577462175532511232

March 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTheWatcher

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