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"Fair and Unbiased"

So, Top Gear's man of mystery, the Stig, has unmasked himself in order to sell his book. The BBC is objecting to the publication of the book on the grounds that it breaches contractual and confidentiality agreements.

HarperCollins, the would-be publishers of the book, have issued a press release in which they say that they "are disappointed that the BBC has chosen to spend licence fee payers' money to suppress this book".

Remind me again who owns HarperCollins, and why they might want to make political capital at the BBC's expense in the run-up to the renegotiation of the BBC charter, and possible abolition of the license fee.

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So some bloke who drives a car on a program that insists that speeding and antisocial behaviour are basically okay and a bit of a laugh, hosted by bigoted, brutally unpleasant, borderline evil petrol-headed car supremacists is going to go public with something entirely irrelevant?

Frankly, while the BBC funds something a horrific as that, I'm all for this (or anything else) being used at their expense. The BBC should be a fine organisation, a cornerstone of Britishness and a benchmark of quality. It isn't.

I think Clarkson is the only one that fits your description of bigoted, brutally unpleasant, borderline evil. Plus, it's a show about cars, it would be weird if the presenters weren't, you know, a bit into cars. It would be like a cookery show hosted by a breatharian.

Horrific? Really? Genocide's horrific. Top Gear's just pathetic, saddening lads-maggery.

Edited at 2010-08-24 08:29 am (UTC)

Top Gear does have some particularly insidious and unpleasant aspects in particular if you saw the episode with Louis Walsh (?) the dance instructor guy, it really would not have been out of place in a "weren't the 70s awful" retro program. Lots of insinuations that if you weren't careful a gay man would likely rape you in the long grass and presenters making comic excuses for it. Quite why Louis whatsisname felt able to lend himself to it I just don't know but it really was cringe-worthy TV and unfortunately likely to appeal to just exactly the kind of person who shouldn't have that stereotype reinforced. Ugh. Loathesome.

The problem is that under it is a very entertaining and watchable program. I just don't know why they have to cover it in some kind of cloak of homophobia, anti-environmentalism and so on. As if liking cars implied you also wanted to club seals, chop down the rainforest and keep queers in a ghetto.

Precisely. Its no more offensive than, say, Bernard Manning or Roy 'Chubby' Brown, and for decades those on the receiving end of those jokes were expected just to put up with it.

to be fair - and I loathe the laddishness and banter - lads mags have a high quotient of T&A; Top Gear gets Joanna Lumley on to do handbrake turns. I think their phwoaring is reserved for the cars ;-)

I think that you are mistaking the baby for the bathwater. Yes, Top Gear is laddish and petrol-headed ("brutally unpleasant", "borderline evil" and "horrific" are both subjective judgements and hyperbole), and I can't make excuses for that. The homophobic undercurrent is the aspect of the show that most concerns me.

However, by judging the BBC - all of the BBC - through a single show, you're playing into the hands of those who would like to see the BBC usurped.

BSkyB is a New Corporation company (as is HarperCollins), and I'm sure that Murdoch would like nothing more to see an emasculated BBC. I'm also sure that our new masters in Whitehall would like to see more a subservient BBC (never minding that our previous masters wanted the same), but I don't think that ousting the BBC from their position as the news broadcaster of note and replacing them with Fox News will serve the UK at all well. In terms of revenue, BSkyB already outperforms the BBC (2009 revenue of roughly £5.5B, compared to £4.5B for the BBC).

The BBC *is* a fine organisation and a benchmark of quality, but by harping on about a single show, you're in danger of making the converse a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Absolutely with you here. The fact that Clarkson is thoroughly unpleasant and essentially undoes a lot of good work others do to raise climate awareness is one thing. The whole "backs-against-the-wall-lads" attitude to homosexuality though is just awful. The episode where that dance teacher guy was on was cringe worthy and I have no idea why he lent himself to it.

Subjective judgements? I guess so. Not sure I get your point there though; subjectively I find homopobic, anti-environmental nonesense where breaking the law isn't so much condoned as fully exemplified to be brutally unpleasant and just a bit evil. And wherever I encounter it I find that kind of homophobia horrific.

The BBC does a lot of good stuff, but until such a time as it starts outright rejecting the kind of offensive tosh that typifies Top Gear they can't claim any kind of moral high ground in dealings with Murdochs brigade.

Seriously? Your universe is so deviod of real concerns that you get so upset by something like 12 hours of tv per year?

Sure, Top Gear is purile, but it's hardly the end of civilisation.

I think HC suck for trying to tuse his non-event it to drum up publicity, but the BBC suck more for trying to block the guys book. If he's breaking the contract, just sack him, it's not a big deal. I don't buy the whole News Corp consipracy theory thing, nobody really cares, except you lot apparently.

PS I saw the previous guy (Perry Macarthy [sp]) at some trade show. He was teaching fat geeks how to drive a F1 simulator, shilling for a company that sells datacentre equipment. The whole biography thing didn't really work out for him.

It may be "hardly the end of civilisation" but Top Gear is an important influencer of public opinion. It has so many opportunities to actually do good and instead it does actively do harm. Their attitude to a number of viable environmental issues has genuinely set back progress. The change to public opinion made by 100 well researched scientific papers about global warming and pollution are quickly undone by an off-hand comment from a woolly-headed tit who is just trying to spark controversy with his opinion.

Really, stuff like global warming may be "hardly the end of civilisation" but as modern issues go, it's the closest we have. I genuinely believe the top gear presenters (well mainly Clarkson) effectively pull in exactly the wrong direction and the show does attract that kind of gullible person who might easily become a climate change sceptic simply because it's controversial, makes life easy and Jeremy Clarkson says it's OK.

It being 12 hours containing homophobic bilge makes it somehow less offensive?

That I find it morally abhorrent and that I genuinely think less of anyone who can condone that kind of program doesn't make it the be all and end all for me. Like I'm sure many people who found programs like 'the Comedians' and 'Love thy Neighbour' offesive managed to live full, happy lives despite the fact that there weas a major broadcaster condoning prejudice.

If you're taking those three seriously, you've perhaps missed that they don't.

Top Gear's a comedy program hidden beneath a thin veneer of motoring. The worst bit is that it's trying too hard of late and blatantly scripting too many "impulsive" things.

Comedy? So was 'Love thy Neighbour'. Doesn't make it anything other than offensive crap. Doesn't also mean that the hateful prejudice given out there isn't repeated in school yards across the country. Nor does it change the fact that people really are gullible enough to believe that rubbish; you may view it as a comedy, if Clarkson comes out with yet another anti-cyclist rant you can bet it'll be repeated, that very week, at cyclists on the road. Word for word.

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