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Day: February 6, 2011

This Top Gear Mexican Furore. What on Earth?

I have been a long-time Top Gear viewer and I know there is casual xenophobic remarks. You deal with them as they offend everyone and also offend each other. It is part of the nature of the show and of real life. If people don’t think they offend others then they are nave in the extreme. We all have opinions whether they be about chavs, teenage mums, Essex boys/girls, whatever. We all have them and whilst they are our opinions as a blanket rule we don’t use them to pigeon-hole a person if we meet them.

I know teenage mums and some of them are terrific. I know chavs and some of them aren’t anywhere near as bad as what the media says. I live in Essex and some of the people purposefully live up to their stereotype and they like it, some of them detest it. Casual stereotypes are just a part of life and people who don’t see that I often feel are chronic deluded.

I missed Top Gear last week as it clashed with the American Football but I recorded it and caught up with it later. Was there any complaints that the Australian Top Gear presenters were forced to arrive in a prison van? Were there any complaints where they made them drive upside down in one of the challenges? I don’t recall reading about any. Is that because casual xenophobic remarks about Aussies are ok?

The remarks made by the Top Gear team are as follows (courtesy of The Guardian):

Hammond: …Cars reflect national characteristics, don’t they, so German cars are very well-built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, a Mexican car’s just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight… (laughter) leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat.

May: It is interesting, isn’t it, because they can’t do food, the Mexicans, can they? Because it’s all like sick with cheese on it, I mean… (laughter)

Hammond: Refried sick!

May: Yeah, refried sick.

Hammond: I’m sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you’re Mexican: ‘awww, no’. (laughter)

Clarkson: No, it’d be brilliant… because you could just go straight back to sleep again.

What here is personally offensive in any Mexicans? I like Mexican food but it does look like sick. All Hammond said it his opening remarks was portraying a national stereotype. Whether it was funny or not only the individual can decide but was it genuinely offensive? I think you’d need pretty strong blinkers on to say that it was.

I have also read that a Mexican student wants to sue the show and the BBC for up to £1million because he was personally offended. The 30 year-old has said, “I have never had a bad experience in the UK due to my nationality. I do not understand how such ignorant people hold such high-profile jobs.” I ask myself, ‘Was it really such a bad experience?’ and ‘You are a 30 year-old man – grow up you little so n so.’ Do I sue The Simpsons when they constantly go on about the British having bad teeth and being involved in soccer violence all the time? I don’t believe I do.

The Mexican government are getting involved as they are considering suing the BBC for potential loss of tourism. What bull. This is the best type of advertising the country could get being constantly in the media. With lots of people who believe they are above Top Gear and childish humour saying great things about Mexico and Mexicans just to prove a point that they are better than that.

People need to stop taking things too seriously. If it wasn’t for the media telling us we were appalled then we wouldn’t be. Is this what media is these days not exactly reporting the news but creating news to get us all talking? It is starting to feel that way.

I know there is a delicate balance between xenophobia and racism, the difference to me is would you treat someone any differently if they came from another social group/race/sex etc… I do not believe the Top Gear presenters would, hence this whole furore is overblown for me. Maybe that’s just me as I’m not swayed by what the media are telling me to think, I like forming my own opinions and not just joining the crowd.

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