The bombshell has been delivered and so closes another chapter of Top Gear. The show existed before Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond but the big question might be, will it exist after?
The show experienced incredible success due in large part to the chemistry between the three hosts. Top Gear’s international offerings have had nice editing, content and frivolity but they haven’t equaled the success of the UK version and I’m inclined to believe that much of that is really down to the people.
Alec Baldwin has had more outrageous commentaries and activities and still US media seem to employ him with reckless abandon so the non-renewal of Clarkson’s contract (which I read was up in March) is a bit odd—that is unless there are much bigger issues between the BBC and the presenter that are proving untenable.
When the news broke that Clarkson had hurled insults and punched a producer, the media was quick to not only recount the event but also embed videos of Clarkson’s more dubious moments and comments. The stories I read were like a hit list or rap sheet of everything Clarkson has done that is or could be considered offensive.
If I held that list up to some of the things Ricky Gervais or David Mitchell or the UK’s beloved Stephen Fry have said—I’m not quite sure where the media are drawing the line. I suspect there are bigger issues at play as the BBC knows Clarkson is controversial, that’s why they hired him.
Assaulting someone is never a good idea and while the verbal insults and physical violence is something I’m assuming Clarkson wishes he would not have done, it seems like it would be something that could have been worked out between the three parties.
Having said that, violence at the workplace is never the answer and they do have consequences—in Clarkson’s case, a loss of a job. The show, as we have known it, will not be the same as social media is quick to point out but I also find the “shock” and “surprise” by Huffington Post and others a bit patronizing if I’m honest.
A quick onslaught of tweets and Facebook posts supporting Oisin Tymon, the BBC producer and recipient of Clarkson’s tangible anger, were led by headlines of us “weeping for Humanity” due to the vile things being said on Twitter about said producer (which they must have later changed the headline as that may, and I say “may” have been a little over the top?). Really?
When was anyone at the Huffington Post surprised by commentary on Twitter? Have we all not learned the first three lessons about social media?
1) It is a mobocracy
2) It is a digital version of high school
3) It is a real-time example of the bravery of being out of range
Many folks who feign disgust, shock and surprise about the idiotic things being said about Tymon on Twitter are as disingenuous as those saying them. Do us all a favor and stop being a dork and tweeting acidic things about Tymon and for the rest of you, stop the piety and mock-surprise of seeing these inane comments on Twitter. Let’s be adults here shall we?
The fact is, I think the BBC have had a difficult time of late in handling Clarkson’s presence on the network and equally, I think Clarkson has had a bum-full of the BBC’s warnings they’ve given him when he stepped over the line—contextually speaking of course because I’ve no way to know if Clarkson feels that anything he’s done is, indeed, over the line. I am sure he regrets his actions with Tymon but in the end, you can’t have people at the office clubbing each other and hurling racial slurs because they didn’t get a steak. Seems like there is a much bigger undertow here to me and who knows? Maybe Jezza is going through personal issues that are making things difficult to manage emotionally? It’s all conjecture.
Regarding the “shocking” Internet that has seen “death threats” for Tymon, William Shatner tried to weigh in with a tweet regarding Clarkson’s future suggesting that he’ll find another network in which to ply his trade. The former Star Trek actor was immediately pounced upon with all kinds of vile tweets. Wonder if HuffPo will run a story about how humanity should weep for these puerile comments? Surely social justice has no limits right?
In the end, Top Gear will most assuredly be different. The show has a very talented staff of writers and producers and with new talent, they’ll forge ahead. What is also clear is that IF Clarkson, May and Hammond go elsewhere, the BBC will have stiff competition.
The BBC will have to work very hard to gain my attention with a new top Gear. It’s not that I am not open-minded, hell I watched the American version for several episodes before realizing that I have work to do elsewhere like typing, sorting papers and such.
It’s simply that the chemistry between Hammond, Clarkson and May is the bottled lightning in the BBC Top Gear arsenal and I am sure every writer and producer feels they can overcome that and they very well may but it will be an uphill climb and one they will probably get energized by. Best of luck to them all. So what time is the new Clarkson, Hammond and May show going to be on again? Need to set the DVR to record the season.