Notepad on Life

February 9, 2011

Top Gear‘s race problem is being stuck in reverse

Filed under: foreign,TV — - @ 6:58 am
Tags: , ,
Picture of Richard Hammond, on the set of Top ...

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My immediate reaction to Richard Hammond’s assessment of Mexicans? The same as my reaction to the recent Sky Sports fiasco concerning women.

The awful, lumbering crassness of it all.

In both cases, I found myself listening to comments straight out of 1974, that left me staggered at just how little some people have moved on.

While Sky have ruled a heavy-handed line under the Gray/Keys issue (a grovelling public apology from both men for bringing such ancient cliché into the workplace would have sufficed) Richard Hammond’s daft stereotypes still rankle, because it beggars belief how anyone with access to the Internet can still be reduced to such tosh.

Just last week, I watched live video feeds from Cairns, Australia, as the typhoon prepared to hit. I keyed ‘Egypt’ into Twitter and felt like I was there. Every night, I watch football from all over Europe. I talk fishing with guys from around the English-speaking world on forums. You want to see what’s meant by the term ‘global village’? Just open your browser.

And through all of this, time and again, a single message hits home. Cultural differences apart, when it comes down to human nature, we’re all pretty much the same, wherever we live.

When you have the world at your doorstep like this, who on earth still needs to fall back on the kind of vague generalisations we resorted to in the days before the ‘Net to sum up foreign nations? Richard Hammond’s  clapped-out stab at Mexico in a Nutshell made me think of how the fuzzy-wuzzies were probably discussed around Victorian dinner tables during the Boer War. Uninformed speculation dressed up as fact.

That a man whom we must assume not only knows his way around Google but who also travels the world in connection with his job can still have to resort to the idle rhetoric of yesteryear when assessing the world beyond Kensington High Street makes me wonder if he hasn’t already inflicted his own punishment.

For unless this cringeworthy stunt was simply a put-up job by a production team that felt Top Gear‘s ‘edgy’ quota needed a boost, we can draw only one other conclusion.

Handsome chap though he is, Richard Hammond may not be terribly bright.


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