Controversy has surrounded Clarkson for years. Over his career, he has managed to antagonise and offend a considerable breadth of cultures and people. Romanians, Mexicans, the gay community, the mentally ill: these are a few of the groups whom he has expressed his outdated and offensive opinions about on Top Gear.
The most recent scandal emerged when, on a trip to Argentina, Clarkson had a licence plate on his car which appeared to reference the Falklands War. More recently still, it came to light that he may have fabricated the stories of severe aggression he faced from locals in response, causing some to accuse him of portraying Argentinians as savages.
In spite of this notorious history, the BBC continue to defend and employ him. For them, it makes sense- the show draws considerable ratings and it is a huge export for the BBC around the world. However, is that worth the image of Britons as ignorant (not to mention obnoxious) that is being projected around world?
Those who endorse him justify his behaviour by pointing to his popularity and advise his detractors not to take him so seriously. This is a classic defence of someone whose idea of humour is crude and prejudiced remarks. The ground is shrinking under people like Clarkson and the BBC should set an example by finally tipping him into the cold bath of cultural irrelevance that he has been soaking his feet in for years.
Clarkson represents a stubborn refusal to abandon an eroding status-quo of white, male elitism and British imperialism.
Clarkson’s own fan-site (that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2001) contains a quote from the BBC that describes him as ‘not a man to give considered opinion’. Taking this into account, it seems confusing that they continue to give him a mouthpiece that reaches so many people. It certainly wasn’t a ‘considered opinion’ when he attempted to annex off an entire area of public land for his own convenience in the Isle of Man. Nor his decision to pollute the public sphere with his lackadaisical views on the environment and callous attitude towards endangered animals.
By belittling such important issues as well as playing down his offensive remarks, Clarkson encourages those who listen to him to continue behaving in a way that hurts people and the world around us. Clarkson represents a stubborn refusal to abandon an eroding status-quo of white, male elitism and British imperialism. His supporters would do well to remember that his economic interest in remaining relevant transcends any bonds he has to the common person. His remark that public sector workers who were striking ought to be shot is evidence that he lives comfortably apart from the struggles of his audiences in these pressing financial times. Clarkson has been known to make provocative statements such as these around the times of his book releases, which if anything cheapens them further.
Clarkson is nothing more than a bad act that has run on too long and the BBC need to pull the curtain before they sacrifice any more of their credibility on the alter of his distended ego.