Friday, December 02, 2011

Jeremy Clarkson explained

Since most of this blog's readers are from outside the UK I thought I'd better explain...

There's this bloke in the UK called Jeremy Clarkson. He pretends to be an idiot blokey bloke (a kind of Homer Simpson parody of a 'typical guy' I guess) who's hopeless at most things but likes to drive very expensive cars too fast. He co-presents a television programme called 'Top Gear'. They fake footage (like pretending he's in a car while the army fires live bullets through it) and he pretends he has no social conscience for comic effect - and presumably to wind up people who do have a social conscience but have no sense of humour (or humor...)

Sometimes these jokes are quite funny and one likes to think that on occasion at least he's sending himself up. He makes a good living out of doing this. He's 'controversial'. I mean that he's generally controversial in that tired and predictable lazy comedian way.

So for example, not only does he still complain about caravans (trailers?) on the road (even though you hardly see them and there is so much traffic over there that they hardly slow the traffic at all anyway) but he's likely to say that all caravan owners are, oh, I dunno 'people who wet the bed' or something. And he's likely to say that all caravans should be burned or all their owners should have their portable gas bottles stuck up their arses (that'll be asses) and exploded. You get the picture. Sometimes funny, often not funny, caricature right wing views, extreme in that right over the top 'massive exaggeration is automatically funny' type way.

There was a one day strike of public sector workers over here. They object to the government's financial deficit being paid off by cutting their pensions. Billions of pounds of taxpayers money was given to banks who I'm pretty sure are now giving it away to their shareholders. People who move money from screen to screen seem to be valued very much more that people who do things like looking after elderly people and children and so on. Anyway...

Our Jeremy was on a television programme to plug his new DVD (I think it was called 'Crash Bang Wallop What a DVD' - sorry, that's a joke none Alan Partridge fans). The presenters asked him about the strike having warned the audience that he was 'controversial'. He said that the strike was great because it kept the traffic down but as it was the BBC he'd have to be balanced and say something negative about the strike. So he said that the stikers should be taken out and shot in front of their families.

So...a poor joke for a start 'they should be taken out and shot' is a very old line on a par with 'string 'em up, it's the only language they understand'. So one would think the obvious reaction to this would be a shrug and a 'mm, Jeremy's not on very good form'. No further comment you would think.

But unfortunately we're suffering from a number of social maladies. One is that people seem to be waiting to be offended. A second is that this is encouraged by the media, in particular the popular newspapers. Related to this is the fact that too many people have a very low tolerance of anything, and stupid people are encouraged to express their lack of understanding and their stupidity through all kinds of modern methods. People who have so little sense of humour that they don't even recognise a poor joke are also apparently extremely sensitive to any offence of any kind anywhere and feel it is their duty to complain. They also (ironically) demand retribution in the most outrageous and extreme ways. So for example they will call for a person to be sacked because they made a poor bad-taste joke.

So...trades unions actually looked into taking legal action against him. For saying that 2 million people should be shot in front of their families! Thousands of people piled in afterwards to 'complain' to the BBC. I even heard the suggestion that children would be frightened because this programme went out at 7pm and they 'could have been watching'- and might have taken this all seriously. Anyone familiar with the work of Chris Morris (Brass Eye for example) would have been hooting with laughter by this point.

So, it all kicked off. The national news headlines became an utter joke. The BBC, instead of saying nothing or 'please stop complaining you're making yourselves look like pompous babies' apologised. They do this a lot these days. It seems that if anyone on television says anything remotely offensive (or possibly offensive) they will be censored and / or sacked. The BBC is still well respected over here and seeing it kowtow to pettiness and damage free speech is well, disappointing to say the least.

I heard an interview with a representative of one of the trades unions who had decided not to proceed with any legal action not because they were sorry that they'd acted like babies or over reacted or believed they'd be humiliated in court or realised they were behaving like pompous humourless idiots - but because Jeremy Clarkson had publicly apologised.

This story took over huge swathes of the national media. Not since the royal wedding was our national broadcaster so trivialised and humiliated.

Right, well, I've run myself into the ground on this one. It seems the world is now ruled by morons or pranksters with Twitter accounts whipped up by the parts of the media who are mad as hell that a publicly funded organisation does it better than they do.

The most worrying thing is the lack of perspective and proportion. It looks ages for anyone to say 'look at this, this is madness, just stop it'. Television executives and editors and whatnot should make judgements about what is news and what is meaningless blather. They should be able to differentiate between the voice of the people and the twitter of idiots. They're getting it wrong far too often.

That's far too much on this. Sorry...

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