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Andrew Reid

Fisticuffs end new "Top Gear" series - how the BBC risked biggest franchise over catering fracas

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Being a comedian can be just as valid as us filmmakers ranting at length in this thread ;) Just try and give his documentary a watch and tell me what you think.

For Clarkson, I wonder what he expected when he reported the incident? Carry on as usual? A formal announcement that Jeremy Clarkson is retiring and wishing the best? No one would know the real deal... well, not until a few years later in a biography tell all book.

This BBC suspension could be a blessing in disguise for fans of him. It gives him a strong chance to come back and to hear the actual story soon.

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People in the wrong often deny things. People who might not feel they are in the wrong, but are, can deny things. People who are in the right can deny things, if their memory is blurred from booze and fatigue.

Anyway, i'm bowing out of this.. At least until the picture is clearer.

The crux of this blog was not really about his innocence or guilt, but about the idea that he shouldn't even have to answer for his actions because he is a creative and a star... Which I strongly disagree with. Even if he is found completely innocent, these things have to be looked into otherwise we run the risk of another Saville.... Overlooking a potential problem, just because it is the number 1 star.

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Being a comedian doesn't mean his philosophy is any less valid than us filmmakers ranting at length in this thread ;) Just try and give his documentary a watch and tell me what you think.

For Clarkson, what did he expect when he reported the incident? Carry on as usual? A formal announcement that Jeremy Clarkson is retiring and wishing him the best? No one would have to know... well, not until a few years later in a biography tell all book.

This BBC suspension could be a blessing in disguise for fans of him. It gives him a strong chance to come back and to hear the actual story soon.

​So I've watched the documentary again, here's what I think:

It's a good piece of entertainment. If very much works on the principal that it is designed to give it's audience some warm fuzzy feelings. That audience is people who do not like or understand fundamentalism, which to be fair is a huge audience. It reaches out to them and gives them a mind cuddle, tells them that they are correct to believe that fundamentalism is not a good thing and feeds into a circular belief, makes you feel more comfortable than ever before that fundamentalism is wrong by name dropping "important" figures and celebrities whom the core audience will probably like, giving less favourable coverage to those the audience won't like so much. The end result is that the viewer will have either have switched off early because it does not agree or has no interest in the subject, or will feel really good about themselves.

However, it is entertainment and not philosophy.

If it wanted to actually engage the viewer in philosophical thoughts, it would have challenged them. It would have found an intelligent, funny, charismatic fundamentalist, who could go on camera and engage with the audience, explain why it feels that it needs to drizzle holy water on a pavement, or can explain how those who engage in that form of protest think. If you were in the head of the woman drizzling holy water on the pavement, you could understand why she feels this is appropriate behaviour, why she is happy that the program was not aired on the BBC. What's scary is that you might envisage a situation in which you would engage in similar behaviour. 

Fanaticism, which is what fundamentalism is, is a huge problem in the world. This is why I drew someone up earlier because they started with the word we. This tribalistic behaviour is something we need to evolve out of, but also understand that it is currently present in our psyche. We need to understand what triggers it and how it can get so strong that you can use it to turn well educated, balanced normal individuals into suicide bombers. There are some things we can think about. Everyone who becomes a fanatic over anything, from "windows vs apple" to "ISIS vs the west" start somewhere and I believe it starts with a vulnerability.

That vulnerability can be any situation in which a person feels powerless, so maybe constantly getting searched by police because of the colour of your skin would cause you to feel this way. Maybe it's being a policeman alone in a bad neighbourhood, surrounded by people with a certain skin colour who make it clear that you are not welcome here, and that drug dealer on the corner will be walking away. 

It doesn't have to be something quite so obvious or powerful though, how about your childhood best friend moves away and you get lonely sometimes. Or your PC crashes losing some really important work. Your camera doesn't start up quickly enough and you miss the shot.

We all like to think we are immune to these vulnerabilities but in truth, it is just a simple chemical process, nothing we can control or change and it happens in us all, probably every day. I got poo'd on by a bird this morning in front of my sons school. I sure as hell felt crap about it.

When that happens, when you feel vulnerable OR if it happens enough that the feeling of vulnerability is always there, you reach out to people who can make it go away. 99.9999999% of the time, it's not someone with any ill intentions, because humanity is, on the whole pretty decent. But sometimes, even people with good intentions can trigger thoughts and feelings by accident that fanaticises you a bit, and people with an agenda prey on the vulnerability. "They keep searching you, hang out with us, they don't dare search us", "Your PC keeps crashing, try my mac, it never crashes" etc. 

Remember, it's not binary, being a fanatic is a scale of grey, not black and white. Over time, some people get to the point where they feel a sense of belonging with a group of fanatics, and they push each other further and further - more and more extreme - "Lets tell our family not to see the play" then "Well I told all the other mums at school not to see it" to "I'm organising a protest of the play". You want to keep this group of feel good close so you get swept along and there are of course natural brakes - some people won't risk harm to themselves, won't do anything illegal or maybe won't risk disapproval of someone close to them, so they back away when it gets too much. The rest, well they find themselves sprinkling holy water on a pavement in the UK.

How does this relate to Top Gear. Well, just look at the behaviour of some of the people who don't like Clarkson. They don't like the show, maybe they associate it with "blokey culture" and this has triggered some vulnerability in them - which is funny, because trust me, I am so not a "blokey bloke", I hate foot-to-ball, it bores me to tears and I can't stand the fans of the sport, at least what I see of them. But it seems that the world has decided that Top Gear UK is a blokey show for blokes and so I'll run with that here.

It's on some higher function level actually quite intimidating, when you know something is immensely popular but you don't like it. Like Stewart Lee, I get asked what team I support on a regular basis - often when meeting new people. Sometimes I lie and say a team that I know of. I've gotten quite good at talking about the sport and what my chosen team are doing, how they are being managed and making up bullshit that sounds intelligent - or maybe I'm not good at it and people are just being polite! Why do I lie though, because it's quite alienating to have to admit to someone that you don't like something so popular. It must be like that with top gear too.

So when Clarkson is in the news again, people start speaking up against him. Have you noticed that when it happens, there is a high frequency of the term "I don't watch top gear" of people who are talking about it. You know why though, they are engaging in that tribal behaviour. They are clumping together under the banner of not watching the show, because in doing that, they don't feel alienated anymore. They reach out to like minded people and feel better for it - who can hold that against them. I know I do the same when people don't like foot-to-ball, it's like a massive relief, I feel stress lift as someone says that to me, I like that person much more. Just chemistry, but potentially powerful stuff.

And it's not just the detractors who do this, look at that petition to get JC reinstated. That's the exact same process, but a little further along the road of fanaticism. They are taking action, trying to affect a decision to be made by the BBC. As we're a little further along the road, the people involved are a little more extreme, we've dropped some of the people who don't care that much - myself included - so the group is a little smaller, but what it has lost in size, it has gained in potential strength of reaction. Now, they are unified, under the banner to get JC put back on the air. But to deviate from that banner is to be cast out of the group. If you dare get caught saying that maybe we should see if he's actually assaulted a person, you're out. You're of no use to the group. If being a member of that group is giving you the feel goods, maybe you'll hold your tongue before stating that. You took a step towards fanaticism in order to remain one of them, to avoid feeling less good.

In this way, each group will shed members who aren't prepared to take the next step, but those who do will egg each other on towards the next step.

That's what I think about the documentary anyway.

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​Seems like you and Andrew are fine to use media assumptions that work in the favour of the article (eg, the guy is inept and it was just verbal), but those that don't (eg, he split the guy's lip) are just tabloid nonsense.

Maybe this should just be closed until some resemblance of the truth is revealed.

​Just to make my position clear, I don't think he should've been fired even if he did split the guy's lip. He should've been suspended for a few weeks, sure or punished in some way, and the victim could've sued him in court afterwards and gotten compensation, but I don't see why two men coming to blows should destroy one of their careers and possibly many others who depend on the show's success. If Jeremy was clobbering people at workplace serially, then yeah, this is abuse. But this isn't it, it's a private matter between two adults who can resolve it themselves.

He is being punished for his character OFF CAMERA, the same character that makes millions for the channel ON CAMERA. That is hypocritical to me. You don't bring a Tiger to the circus, then punish it for not acting like a kitten during non-public hours. 

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But this isn't it, it's a private matter between two adults who can resolve it themselves.

​So power distance doesn't exist at the BBC?  Interesting.  Well Clarkson certainly thought it did when he said he would get Oisin sacked.  Time to read up on labor law.  Let me tell you something that is NOT how egregious incidents like this are resolved.

 

​He is being punished for his character OFF CAMERA... 

​He used the racial slurs "nigger" and "slope" on camera at work, man.  Not sure why you guys want to keep lying about it.  There is video tape.

Guys get put in jail for missing one meeting with their parole officer.  They aren't getting arrest and incarcerated for missing a meeting they are getting arrested for doing a string of bad things and then breaking their parole agreement.

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Saying nigger or slope is not something nice, but if you start pursuing people for saying it then you will end up in a place that's even worse than a place where people call someone a nigger.

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Like the well known man from history said: "I may not like what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your rights to say it".

And for the sake of clarity - Clarkson was not calling somebody by that term. The joke was about the avoidance of the word in a well know nursery rhyme for children. Avoidance of a naughty word in a children's poem. If you can't see the humour in that, then one has to seriously question one's sense of humour. I'm amazed how many people thought that was equal to Clarkson going up to a black person in the street and hurling a racial insult.

In terms of the "slope" joke, this was in the context of some Vietnam war era banter, as it would be in a film.

None of them go around in real life saying these words.

I'm amazed how easily people completely discard creative license and humour, because of the stigma attached to singular words, which are offensive in their singular form, but not necessarily as part of a joke inside a semi-fictional TV show.

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The way some of you are carrying on in this thread is disgraceful, I should start a public enquiry into the fracas and sack you all!

Is that your BBC upbringing...?

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​He used the racial slurs "nigger" and "slope" on camera at work, man.  Not sure why you guys want to keep lying about it.  There is video tape.

Guys get put in jail for missing one meeting with their parole officer.  They aren't getting arrest and incarcerated for missing a meeting they are getting arrested for doing a string of bad things and then breaking their parole agreement.

First, I didn't comment on his previous incidents because I find it is irrelevant to this specific discussion. I do find them problematic, but not enough to write the guy off, especially since he apologized for offense caused. I find the damage caused by his termination to be a far more serious than hurt feelings of one dude on the set.

Second, do not call me a liar again, this is a warning.

 

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​Not being English, I can only look in from the outside but it seems that in the era of slave trading, the lower classes and merchant classes generally couldn't afford plantations, restricting the ownership of slaves to the upper classes.

Elitism is a dreaded notion, as bad as sexism or racism. You are not a better person than anyone else because of your ancestry. To believe otherwise is elitist. It has nothing to do with education, idealists, socialist movements or good behaviour. Indeed, some of the most obnoxious, ill mannered individuals I have ever met belonged to a royal family and believe you me, were some of the most elitist people of the face of the planet.

Bad taste is in the eye of the beholder. Your opinion is no more or less valid than mine. You find top gear vulgar and in bad taste. Well done on having an opinion. I don't share your opinion. Not kindly stop trying to convince me that I am wrong, or am somehow worse than you because of the light entertainment I enjoy. It's ill mannered and shows a lack of empathy and understanding that the world doesn't revolve around you that is, quite frankly disturbing - and I would suggest, a more pertinant problem to solve in the world that white men who say nigger. Go watch Philip Blooms latest series, The Wonder List, and get a bit of perspective in your life as to the importance of a bit of paper with a family crest on it.

I was not thinking of royalty, noblemen or any of that sort. They usually were not the spiritual elite I was thinking of. English society was for  a very long time known for its sophisticated manners. It may be true that underneath that surface there were a lot of less sophisticated ethics, but nowadays we seem to have the worst of both; thugs all around and no polite cueing at the post office...

At the heart of Andrews argument probably lies a kind of resentment towards poitical correctnes, that can be used by powerful bureaucrats to weed out any creativ process that does not comply with the mainstream. I can understand his argument, and all people within the arts will probably recognize this, but I am not sure he has chosen the right example here, or maybe he is just so fond of cars, that he saw no other way to rescue his favourite show.

That Jeremy guy is just a rather spoiled and ill mannered chap that one can find on every streetcorner. Why turn him into a martyrer or saint? There must surely be some other guy around on those isles who can step in and do his job without all the hassle? Or is the subject of cars connected to adolescent behaviour by default?

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First, I didn't comment on his previous incidents because I find it is irrelevant to this specific discussion. I do find them problematic, but not enough to write the guy off, especially since he apologized for offense caused. I find the damage caused by his termination to be a far more serious than hurt feelings of one dude on the set.

Second, do not call me a liar again, this is a warning.

 

How can you uphold that his previous incidents are irrelevant to this specific discussion?

You seem to be deeply upset by the verb to lie... That seems reasonable enough, but it is petty work compared to the insults done by that chap Clarkson... You rightfully demand to be treated with respect, but you don't mind Clarkson abusing others?

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Saying nigger or slope is not something nice, but if you start pursuing people for saying it then you will end up in a place that's even worse than a place where people call someone a nigger.

It all depends on the way you pursue these offences. If the guy get lynched, you would be right. If he gets a fair chance to defend himself, there is nothing wrong with pursueing him for his offences.

Indeed, a society where these offences are being pursued in a fair way is a much better place than a society that does not care.

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I may not like that you punch an editor, but I will defend to the death your right to punch an editor, because you are a megastar and missing a steak will ruin your creativity.

​Jimmy you are just not getting this.

At the moment you're siding with the tabloid gossip. Wise?

Let the inquiry publish the facts.

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How can you uphold that his previous incidents are irrelevant to this specific discussion?

You seem to be deeply upset by the verb to lie... That seems reasonable enough, but it is petty work compared to the insults done by that chap Clarkson... You rightfully demand to be treated with respect, but you don't mind Clarkson abusing others?

​No, I do mind Clarkson abusing others. I also mind others abusing Clarkson disproportionately in return. Which is what's happening here.

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I find the damage caused by his termination to be a far more serious than hurt feelings of one dude on the set.

​Yep that's it in a nutshell.

The jobs of countless people hanging by a thread because of a personal disagreement between just two people after a day of filming.

What people forget when they unnecessarily lay into Clarkson is that they are also putting on the line the jobs of the entire crew and the future of the entire franchise.

I believe talent should be cut as much slack as possible and salacious tabloid gossip should't be believed.

Innocent until proven guilty.

And if he did throw a punch, it was an isolated incident after years of hard work for the BBC.

I believe in cutting people slack and managing strong personalities the best you can. You don't treat them like children and give them ultimatums or constantly slap them on the wrist for bad behaviour.

The BBC is on the way to having almost zero presenting talent.

Or indeed anything very much worth watching. Charlie Brooker is an exception rather than a rule, unfortunately. All the edgier comedy for example went to Channel 4 ages ago.

What's the BBC about? My Family? The One Show? Give me a fucking break.

It should be better than this, given the sum of its parts.

What Clarkson is undergoing at the moment is a public shaming and a trial by Twitter.

Some people on this thread are guilty of joining in.

It shows a great prejudice beneath the surface and all sorts of confusion because they don't get the show or the humour. It's not really about cars, so much as the banter, the adventures, the tasks, the playing around, the humour and the personalities of the hosts. People who automatically correlate Top Gear with boy racers and a bone headed love of revving their Astras at traffic lights would, come to think of it, fit in perfectly well with the rest of the pathetic middle class elite who run the modern BBC.

In the end Clarkson isn't about politics left or right. He isn't a political icon for people to pin their anti-Tory prejudices too. I am a liberal and even I am not stupid enough to stop laughing at Top Gear because the host made a flippant remark about climate change.

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The only person who has jeopardised the show and these jobs is Clarkson. Stop blaming others for calling his unacceptable behaviour unacceptable. He's had a few warnings, has any of them prompted him to consider his responsibilities and what is at stake in this regard? If this well educated and remunerated person did, the outcome is clear, he doesn't give a fuck. He prefers to take the money and present himself at odds with the job requirements. 

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Like the well known man from history said: "I may not like what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your rights to say it".

....

I'm amazed how easily people completely discard creative license and humour, because of the stigma attached to singular words, which are offensive in their singular form, but not necessarily as part of a joke inside a semi-fictional TV show.

It's very possibly cultural, as well . One of the finer line people in the entertainment industry had to trek is about the ( lack of ) common background culturally and knowledge wise one might or would process as an audience/viewer. Which might and would distort the meaning or by convey, a different sentiment, & meaning from what the original intended.

Many shows from US, and UK tend to rely too much on local culture that its too easy missed on foreign viewer and even many of their own. This is in fact very much the case also nowadays of shows coming from Asia and Europe alike.  Not to mention many new comers like Bollywood and African productions.

A frequent viewer myself to the BBC show I must say there were many remarks I've seen on the show that are just trivial, light hearted, and genuinely entertaining but do in many cases would cause some viewer misunderstanding or even downright unable to muster the thought , in which case the plain word and text itself then surface as the literal meaning to the one viewer or viewers , and this is so true the case. 

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​Jimmy you are just not getting this.

At the moment you're siding with the tabloid gossip. Wise?

Let the inquiry publish the facts.

​Actually, I have said several times that non of us know what has happened and even suggested shutting this down until we know a little more. I am getting it. Whether he turns out to be guilty or innocent does not change my stance one iota.... My stance is, and has remained throughout, that he is just as accountable as anyone else and should follow the same procedures, when accused of a wrong doing. My innocent people are accused of wrong doing, this is why we have suspensions and inquires, rather than instant dismissal based on past actions and assumptions.

The crux of your arguments is that he shouldn't even be in a position to be accountable, because he is a creative, making money and providing jobs.... an idea that I am vehemently opposed to.

To those concerned about jobs... Let's look back to the Saville case, he was the biggest tv star of the 70s, how many jobs is raping a child worth? It is not an argument that holds water... If a star is doing something wrong, allowing that to continue, for the sake of others' jobs, is a dreadful concept.

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