I HATE Jeremy Clarkson

// 26 May 2008

There are some things that just need saying. I HATE Jeremy Clarkson. Phew, now I’ve said it. Maybe it seems harsh of me to single him out from a number of car show presenters and general public personalities. I feel he merits it though and I’ll tell you why:

Clarkson is not just a car show presenter, he’s the car show presenter. He defines the genre. For many years he’s been the driving force behind the way the television-shows-about-cars industry works. When he first worked on Top Gear in 1988 it was a show that mostly reviewed different cars and advised would-be buyers on the advantages and disadvantages of different models. When it was re-modelled in 2002 he was the main presenter.

Now even when the show first started it had a mixture of male and female presenters. The new version has always been 100% male – and for that matter 100% white and British. And the standard of the banter went with it. Cars that Clarkson doesn’t like are referred to as “gay” or “girly” – as though those were insults. Women are standardly referred to as “birds”. The focus of the show shifted from reviewing cars to frivolously taking pointless journeys, racing sports cars against military vehicles and aircraft and sometimes even destroying perfectly roadworthy vehicles.

As the environmental movement raised awareness of the impact carbon emissions had on the climate, the show could have incorporated advice on reducing emissions, on lower emission vehicles and emphasised that high-speed low-efficiency sports cars were the sort of things to be driven occasionally as a treat if you enjoyed that sort of thing. But with Clarkson at the helm of course that didn’t happen. We can only imagine that after all those years of being given privileged access to fancy cars and events he was so far in the pockets of the motor lobby that he couldn’t see the wood for the burnt stumps where once there were trees. Instead he started making insulting remarks about environmentalists. He bragged about breaking speed limits and complained at length about fuel and congestion taxation, which aims to cut emissions.

Now that in itself would be enough reason for some people to hate the man. I am not so quick to use such strong terms. I can sympathise that there is a market for that sort of misogynist, homophobic* planet-murdering prattle and someone was always going to step up to the plate.

The trouble is he isn’t just a (or the) car show presenter any more. He’s gone to great lengths to present himself as a spokesman for the white middle-class male adrift in a sea of political correctness. His website (and I know, I know, it’s a joke…) says “Jeremy Clarkson – Clarkson information, books, DVDs, forum, and news from Britains next prime minister?”. And if that’s just a joke, why have nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking for him to become prime minister? He writes newspaper columns – and they appear in the political pages, not the motoring pages. His books include collections of poltical essays. The style may be “fun” and chatty to read but he’s covering topics like Basque separatism and war in Iraq.

The first article on the Top Gear website is clearly a 100% political piece written by him and titled “CLARKSON: Soon the annual tax bill for a commuter will be £10k”

Firstly that is a straightforward lie. Road tax on even the most polluting vehicles is £400 a year. If your commute goes in to central London (and if so why the hell are you driving!) you’ll pay £8 a day congestion charge (5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1960) and if your commute is 50 miles each way (then get the train! or at 8 miles per litre, 65p tax per litre, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year = £1991) then that’s £4351 a year – less than half the number he is suggesting.

Secondly the whole point of increasing tax on higher emissions vehicles on unnecessary routes is to encourage drivers to switch to other means of travel and lower emission cars. He grumbles the cost of a tax disc on a Lamborghini Gallardo could rise to nearly a thousand pounds. But given the car itself costs £133,000, I think owners can afford it. And given it emits at least 325g of CO2 per kilometer (more than twice that of, for example, a Renault Megane or a Vauxhall Astra) my feeling is great, lets put the tax up even higher. No-one needs to drive a car like that.

Thirdly – and for the sake of my mental health I’m trying to limit myself to only looking at one of his horrible articles – the thing is littered with offensive remarks. The first sentence refers to a woman as “some bird”. He refers to a female politician as “some orange-haired old bat”.

Then he gets on with denying climate change. Now of course he never says it’s not happening, because it is. Instead he says certain events may not be a direct result of it. Sure, sometimes a freak wave gives you wet feet when the tide isn’t actually coming in – but when it’s up to your knees, best to fold up the deck-chairs just in case. People are already dying around the world as a direct result of climate change. There’s no probability about whether or not it’s happening, it is already happening, the uncertainty is how much worse is it going to get.

His conclusion on the cost of taxing so-called “super-cars” is this: “That’s not taxation. That’s rape.”. I won’t even say anything, I think it’s pretty obvious that’s not an appropriate thing to say.

And that’s on his car show website. So it’s not that he’s been “spotted” on his car show and asked to branch out in to politics – he’s actively choosing to use his car show as a platform for his political opinions. And here’s the real rub: It’s working! He’s kind-of accepted on TV as some sort of lovable right-wing not-afraid-to-speak-his-mind pundit. He’s on Have I Got News…, QI, even Who Do You Think You Are? as though he’s an institution that we’re all comfortable with in the UK.

But are we really all comfortable with vicious anti-environmentalism on the basis of lies? With misogyny and homophobia* from someone who is genuinely trying to influence policy-making in the UK? Personally I’d like to present the alternative point of view in a one-off BBC TV special called “Jeremy Clarkson: Who The F*** Does He Think He Is?”

* Actually he’s been pretty racist too, I’ll leave that for now, I think we’ve got enough to be getting on with!

Comments From You

Kirsty // Posted 26 May 2008 at 8:06 am

I have never got why people want this man to be prime minister. He makes my skin crawl.

And do you know what Mr Clarkson? If you don’t like speed cameras – don’t break the law.

miriam // Posted 26 May 2008 at 9:38 am

Clarkson’s one redeeming feature is that he’ll test something out and if it’s proven to be correct he will use a newspaper column and all his public platforms to admit it. (c.f. the one on data theft)

And reviewing cars is political now. He does speak for a lot of men in the UK. This is not a good thing, but I’d rather Clarkson than the BNP. Clarkson does at least like to appear reasonable and can be made to change his mind and admit it.

As far as pointless journeys go, the recent series have improved – the Africa trip was about showing how unnecessary new 4x4s were in the UK, they used a black racing driver instead of the Stig, and they used old cars.

They also showed that a bike and public transport are faster than cars at crossing London during peak traffic, even over a 20 mile course.

As for environmental issues – while there is some climate shift (which is normal – we’ve had peaks and troughs through history) and it seems to be more than usual, some scepticism is usually a good idea.

He is however misogynist, racist, homophobic and an utter bojo.

Philippa // Posted 26 May 2008 at 10:28 am

Yes, I think generally we are. Hence the 50,000 asking for him to be Prime Minister. I think another thing about JC is that he presents himself as a lovable buffoon, in which he is backed up by Hammond and May (pointing out that he cannot get in and out of a car he has just bought if it is parked in a car park because he is too tall, for example, at which point he spends the rest of she show crawling around under the door while the audience laughs and claps at his endearing eccentricity). And clearly a reactionary politician inside a lovable buffoon is something desirable in our society, viz Boris Johnson.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 26 May 2008 at 11:28 am

Oooh, can we do ‘have i got new for you next’. It does homophobia, racism, and sexism on a weekly basis. And why, why, why has there never been more than two women on a five person panel show??

yeomanpip // Posted 26 May 2008 at 11:54 am

Some of Miriams points are correct, but the shows presenters are not black or female, which is part of the point.

Of course, every so often they will have a token woman, POC, cyclist, walker etc but that is all they are.

I love QI, but, even that show can be misogynist sometimes, even when clarkson isn’t there.

The main problem with Clarkson, and celebrities of his ilk, is that he is actively promoting racism, misogyny, gay-bashing etc because hes telling people that movements to make life better, fairer and safer for a lot of people are wrong, he’s telling mainly men that we should go back in time, treat women like they’re worthless, send foreigners home, and drive however we like.


Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 12:19 pm

OK, OK; calm down! Has anyone thought for one moment that Clarkson might just be perpetuating his own myth for marketing purposes?! He’s created a brand and has to do whatever is necessary to sell the brand and keep it alive!

Yes – ‘Top Gear’ was run for a while like a boys’ club and a bad one at that, but all that seems to have changed with a lot more female guests…

When my children were small, I went to the school to collect them one day and one of the mothers was wearing a t shirt that said; ‘Who Needs Men When You’ve Got Chocolate?’. I went and had a t shirt printed that said; ‘Who Needs Women When You’ve Got Beer?’. When I wore that to the school, I was nearly lynched!

Some balance please?!

Jess // Posted 26 May 2008 at 12:49 pm

Kate, I couldn’t agree more. I’m trying to describe how I feel about Clarkson politely, but.. I struggle.

I think what really gets to me about him is his whole personality, political outlook and… um… person.

Jess McCabe // Posted 26 May 2008 at 12:54 pm

Steve HS: “Just” be perpetuating his own myth for marketing places?!

Frankly, it’s worse if he’s loudly espousing harmful positions he doesn’t believe in to make money and build his career.

Holly Combe // Posted 26 May 2008 at 1:25 pm

Cheers, Steve, for drawing it to our attention that Clarkson has been “perpetuating his own myth for marketing purposes” all this time. Who knew? I guess our head’s were so full of feminism that we failed to miss that, just like any other television star, Clarkson has a BRAND and must now do “whatever is necessary” to sell it and keep it alive. Pull the post, Kate!

Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 1:25 pm

Jess – Maybe you’re right to some extent, but doesn’t everyone do that to a certain extent?! I don’t know what you do for a living, but do you believe in everything your boss, company and colleagues say or do? I would guess not, but you still stay there and get paid, don’t you?

Same for me! It would be nice to be THAT principled, but bills need paying…

I’m not always on Clarkson’s side, but I think he deserves some latitude here..!

Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 1:28 pm

Holly! Sorry if you’re offended by my pointing out the obvious… however, if others had your obvious insight, then the piece would not have been written in the first place.

How surprising though that your first resort is to request that the post be pulled rather that promote reasoned argument and discussion…

Holly Combe // Posted 26 May 2008 at 1:39 pm

Steve! Sorry you didn’t get my sarcasm! (Pull the post indeed. As if.)

In all seriousness, I think we can safely assume that Kate is aware of that particular nugget of truth about celebrities.

No offence taken, btw, but I reckon you knew that really, didn’t you?

Re: “‘Top Gear’ was run for a while like a boys’ club and a bad one at that, but all that seems to have changed with a lot more female guests.” More female guests doesn’t change the fact that, as Kate pointed out, it’s an all-male presenting team now.

Those T-shirts sound tragic, btw. Both kinds.

Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 1:47 pm


You’re right; when I re-read, I realised that I had missed the sarcasm.

You’re also right; the t shirts were tragic! I thought I was being clever in making my point though!

And – bring back Vicky Butler-Henderson…

OK?! I’ll run off to write my own blog suitably chastised!

Maia // Posted 26 May 2008 at 2:00 pm

Ahhhhh! Thank goodness for Steve. We need a menz to tell us all to calm down and be reasonable. I’m just so glad he could spare valuable time to give us the benefit of his objective, measured voice.

There was once a female presenter on Top Gear (think it was in the early nineties, but I’m not sure), but I can’t remember her name. She adopted a kind of ‘hello boys’ approach and was always giggling and talking in a flirty, husky voice; clearly the only kind of female presenter the ‘boys’ could tolerate.

What I always hated was how they went on about how this or that penis extension (or car, as they called it) could go from nought to sixty in seconds. So fucking what?!

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 26 May 2008 at 2:46 pm

There were several female presenters on Top Gear in the old version of the show – where Clarkson was just one of the presenters and it had what I owuld call a “magazine” format – basically not so much chat between presenters but more presenter A reviewing car X, then presenter B doing a feature on a particular aspect of motoring…

When it was re-vamped in 2002 it was Clarkson-led, he was the main presenter. Since then it has had only white British (actually English) male presenters: Clarkson, Hammond and May. And the format has been different – lots more chat and “banter” between the three presenters, much of it with this “laddish” – i.e. misogynist, homophobic tone.

Now the whole argument about whether or not Clarkson is just doing what the public want to make an honest crust: Firstly he is loaded, he definitely doesn’t need the money any more, so there’s no excuse on that front. Secondly if he were merely an actor reading lines someone else had written for him I would hold him a lot less (but still not totally un-) accountable for those words. But he’s not. He writes his own stuff, as a presenter, as a columnist and as an author. If he turned round tomorrow and said “Global warming is a reality, we need to get out of cars and into hybrids, and public transport” it would signal the beginning of the end for the motor lobby. He is hugely influential and he must realise that.

And the idea that attacking him is the wrong approach and that we should just ignore him is all very well – but it hasn’t worked over the last 20 years – he’s become a bigger and bigger media figure and no-one has questioned that. Thank goodness for me…

David M // Posted 26 May 2008 at 3:19 pm

Steve HS, I think you’ve taken a lot of flak over your comment about Clarkson just perpetuating his persona for marketing purposes, and I hate to add to it, but you might as well say “Of course Adolph is saying those things about the Jews, the Gypsys and the gays, but he’s just perpetuating brand Hitler”.

Steve // Posted 26 May 2008 at 3:24 pm


I’m glad you appreciated my post. In fact, if you require some more measured objectivity, I’m available to you at any time; it appears you need it!

You’re right about Vicky – she did appeal to the boys, but then that was the point, wasn’t it?! If you can bear to watch the programme, take a look at the male/female balance in the audience. Shockingly, it seems that girlies like cars too! Whatever next?!

Kate was right about many things – the tone of the programme was far too laddish for a while and being a sensitive 21st century guy, I elected not to watch it for a while. However, in recent times it’s improved and whilst not the bastion of all things feminist, I think it’s hardly homophobic and misogynist!

At the end of the day, I like cars and motoring… If you don’t (and you seem fairly het up about it), may I recommend the off switch? Or – you could get in a car one sunny day, drop the roof or open all the windows and have a nice drive through the countryside. You might even be able to take an episode of ‘Top Gear’ in the spirit in which it’s no doubt meant!

Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 3:43 pm


You’re right; I’m reeling from the onslaught! I can’t agree with the ‘Hitler’ comment though…

We’re talking about drawing comparisons between one of the worst human beings ever to have existed and Adolf Hitler…

Did I get that right?!

You know? I don’t care anymore! I’m off for glass of Shiraz… anyone’s welcome to join me!

Anne Onne // Posted 26 May 2008 at 5:14 pm

It seems it’s precisely that which people like about him. He’s like the ringleader in school, the one the other bullies look uo tp, because he’ll go that one step further and say something ‘naughty’, and everyone else can go ‘ummm, he said something bad!’. People look up to him because he does what they know is verging on unacceptable, being ‘non-PC’ has a rebellious appeal for some people, and it’s always a convenient way to find scapegoats for things you don’t like about life.

Clarkson’s just a grumpy middle-aged man with no knowledge of anything interesting, (cars excluded), and nothing important to talk about, but his public grumbling from a privileged perspective seems to really appeal to people. It’s worrying, but I hope that at least some of it is to laugh at the guy, kind of like how you might laugh at some old dinasaur who has really old-fasiouned views, but I’m not convinced.

Steve, the point is that some people like cars and motoring, but don’t like homphobic, misogynist, pretty ignorant bigots like Clarkson. It’s a complete non-sequitur to assume that if someone doesn’t like the presenter of a show, they don’t like the sujbect material, and just shouldn’t watch a show. As a car-lover, shouldn’t you be worried that people like Clarkson are turning many people off motoring because they offend anyone who isn’t white, straight and male? Shouldn’t you be worried that this reinforces the idea that cars are ‘only for the boys’ and women should shut up and let the men talk about cars?

If you want to be an ally to women, part if it is not throwing people different to you under the bus whenever we need changes to anything you’re used to. It’s easy as the group that is represented and not unsulted to say ‘Clarkson’s not that bad, you’re overreacting, just don’t watch the program’.

And BTW, Maia was being sarcastic.

Steve HS // Posted 26 May 2008 at 6:25 pm


I’ve finished my wine so shall respond! I was of course aware that Maia was being sarcastic; her post was dripping in it! The trouble with the written word, eh?

On the main issue, you make a good point. I AM concerned that the guy is leading a team whose demographic is white, middle class and male. Indeed as I referred to above, I stopped watching for a while. However, the reason I referred to the ‘off’ switch was simple; this is the main motoring programme on television; there is no other real choice apart from Channel 5, so it’s ‘put up or shut up’, me included.

And you’re right about not throwing things ‘under the bus’ when change is suggested. But hang on! Let’s get some perspective here!

We are talking about someone who presents a motoring programme and judging by the number of series recomissioned, is very popular; not just amongst men.

I’m not sure that I can’t defend constructive feminism just by defending a TV presenter!

Clarkson – IMHO – does a great job. We all know what he’s like and a good deal of us choose to watch. Do we want a reconstructed male feminist presenting TG? Change it and watch the programme die. Do we want Clarkson to change his views? Well, perhaps. But just because they’re not aligned with mine, why should he? There’s plenty of room for us all.

Being a man, I often miss the feminist POV. However, and I’m not just saying this, women make better pilots (I fly), are on the whole more careful drivers, are great social workers, fabulous doctors/surgeons and academics. They also make crap chefs and pretty dire motoring television presenters. It’s been my pleasure to have great female bosses and terrible ones. Of the women who report to me, 50% are a pain in the ass as are the men.

Am I generalising? Of course… but if the author of the blog was allowed to get things out of perspective, I sure as hell am!

Cath Elliott // Posted 26 May 2008 at 7:21 pm

I too hate Jeremy Clarkson. The best story about him is when his overweening arrogance was brought down to size earlier this year after someone hacked into his bank account when he printed details of it in the Sunday Times. He was trying to prove that people had nothing to fear from the loss of government cds containing people’s personal information, but he was forced to backtrack when someone used his personal details to relieve him of £500.

Ahhh, revenge is sweet.


Rosie // Posted 26 May 2008 at 8:43 pm

“You’re right about Vicky – she did appeal to the boys, but then that was the point, wasn’t it?! If you can bear to watch the programme, take a look at the male/female balance in the audience. Shockingly, it seems that girlies like cars too! Whatever next?!”

I think that’s the point though, Steve – it just goes to show the sexism in the way that the show is (or has been) produced. If the audience is made up of men AND women, then why have presenters that are blatently just meant to appeal to the boys (the male ones with their laddish ‘banter’ and the female one with her ‘hello boys’ approach)? It quietly gives out the message that this show is mainly just for the boys, and reminds the women viewers that they are only guests, only to be allowed into this boys’ club as long as they obey the rules – be sexy and don’t complain about the misogynist banter.

So of course this just re-enforces the idea that cars etc are “boys’ stuff”.

Sorry if this is all blindingly obvious to you. I was just confused as to why you were justifying the fact that this female presenter was rather sexual by stating the fact that there are women in the TG audience as well.

Ross Marat // Posted 26 May 2008 at 10:11 pm

Yes, he’s slime. No doubt about it. The irritating thing is though, he’s probably pleased that he’s thought of as slime. It’s a no win situation. :|

Emily // Posted 26 May 2008 at 11:08 pm

“Being a man, I often miss the feminist POV”.

You said it, Stevie.

But hey, fuhgeddabout these issues which are clearly bugging you so much. There are far better things to do and be in life than a sad internet troll trying to rile feminist wimmin. Don’t give up, you’ll find something! You might even be one of those gurning morons in the Top Gear audience one day.

Now, better put all that rope in a safe place before you hang yourself with it. We wouldn’t want that to happen, ha ha ha.

Ha ha hahahah.

Anne Onne // Posted 26 May 2008 at 11:27 pm

Steve, to be fair, she’s not suggesting Clarkson be wiped off the face of the Earth (though a decrease in the kind of comments he makes would be welcome). Clarkson is an adult, being paid a lot of money to express his opinions in the public sphere. We should always remember two things about freedom of speech: the first being that nobody is owed a public, paid forum to express beliefs, and can be sacked for saying something inappropriate, and the second that freedom of speech means we are within our rights to criticise the opinions someone else expresses, and what effect they have on society as a whole.

Clarkson is not an inconsequential figure, he is paid a lot of money and is watched by a lot of people. The very fact that he is so popular is a very good reason to criticise him openly, and examine the opinions he expresses. It’s unfortunate that when a person gets popular, people decide that as some sort of ‘national treasure’ (this usually refers to some opinionated old codger) they are above all criticism, and whatever they way is sacrosanct.

I’m afraid we’ll also have to disagree about the use of the ‘off’ switch. Since he IS motoring television, its doubly important that he is not made out to be some kind of right-wing saint, and that there is criticism of him.

The point is, as a man, and someone neither on the recieving end of his ‘humour’, nor ignored by those who program TV, it’s much easier for you to put up with it than it is for some people. When that’s the response women and minorities get for many issues, you might see why we get a bit sick of shutting up and putting up with it, just because everyone else thinks something’s OK.

Besides, when men don’t understand a feminist perspective, they don’t do so because of some magic chromosome-related reason, but because they haven’t fully examined the situation from the point of view of someone less privileged than themselves. If lots of women tell you they feel insulted and isolated because of the actions of a person, is it more likely that they are exaggerating or lying, or that perhaps, not being a woman, and being socially trained to ignore what affects them, you jsut aren’t taking it seriously enough?

Besides, Kate’s post reads as much as a lament that people like the guy, as a criticism of Clarkson to me.

Nina // Posted 27 May 2008 at 1:52 am

Jeremy Clarkson can’t be defended because everything he is accused of is true. That’s where you’re going wrong Steve, there’s no argument here. He’s reprehensible and a complete arsehole and his politics are completely illogical and dysfunctional.

I love Top Gear though, I don’t want it to be a more inclusive programme, that’s absolutely not what it’s for. I don’t want all of the cultural literature in my life to have a perfect balance of women and men on screen or in text either, equal opportunities are totally desirable but more important behind the scenes on a show with only three regular presenters. I like the relationship between them as well, I think it’s well balanced, competitive and absurd and very funny. I don’t think they’re like me, my politics aren’t expressed and it’s utterly inconsequential. I don’t own a car because I believe in the environment and recycling but it’s a TV show. I like it when they review cars that I could never possibly own because watching the Bugatti Veyron drive through Europe is wonderful and beautiful and awe-inspiring. I like Top Gear just as it is.

Rhona // Posted 27 May 2008 at 10:50 am

“I love Top Gear though, I don’t want it to be a more inclusive programme, that’s absolutely not what it’s for. I don’t want all of the cultural literature in my life to have a perfect balance of women and men on screen or in text either…I don’t think they’re like me, my politics aren’t expressed and it’s utterly inconsequential.”

I agree with Nina, here: I am aware that Clarkson is a brash, unreconstructed idiot, but I find him, at times, entertaining (and I like cars, too!). Similarly, heros of mine such as Greer and Faludi will ocassionally come out with statements which literally make me want to eat my own head out of embarrassment – does that mean I have to ditch any good opinion of their work altogether? Humanity is, unfortunately, fallible at all times – however, that doesn’t mean that we cannot listen (with the possible exception of anybody representing the BNP).

I also think it’s somewhat inappropriate to leap down a man’s throat when they attempt to offer an alternative viewpoint, particularly when they are commenting on a feminist blog. Is this not a friendly, open space to discuss and learn from one another’s povs? I frequently disagree with several F-Word bloggers’ points but I tend to take the opportunity to attempt to consider and learn from what they are saying, rather than totally disregarding it for not agreeing with my own opinion. Just a thought.

Nina // Posted 27 May 2008 at 12:15 pm

Rhona, I think that everyone has the opportunity to respond to Steve just as they want to, which is one of the pleasant things about a space like this. We can’t expect Steve not to express his opinion or anyone else to hold back when he does.

And Germaine Greer upsets me more than Clarkson because she’s fallen one hell of a lot further.

Cate // Posted 27 May 2008 at 12:38 pm

JC is a sexist bastard.

However…I still think he’s really funny and is great at what he does. Between the stuff he says about Americans (we’re all fat and inbred) and Women (don’t even get me started) he makes me cringe pretty much every time I watch Top Gear, but the very next second he’ll say something that makes me laugh out loud. I think he’s a fantastic TV presenter and is entertaining to watch because he’s one of those people you love to hate.

I totally understand and *get* why people hate him. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I love the guy, but Top Gear is one of my favorite shows, and it wouldn’t be the same without him.

Anne Onne // Posted 27 May 2008 at 5:19 pm

Rhona, it’s a hard balance, though.

In the end, an important part in visiting a safe space is privileged parties being willing to check privilege at the door, and not taking it personally when someone disagrees or points out their privilege. Male commenters have the rest of the internet where they can feel superior, or have their POV accepted as the right one because they are male, as well as the whole of the real world.

Personally I think it’s especially important in a feminist space that whilst men are included, they aren’t given special attention or aquiesced to, and that means that their opinions are treated to criticism same as everyone elses, and their privilege pointed out where it seems to affect the discussion.

Maybe it’s because I have also frequented blogs where privilege is given much shorter shrift that I don’t particularly see what is so inappropriate here. There haven’t been any ad hominem attacks on men (other than Jeremy Clarkson), and commenters disagreeing have replied to what he said and added their own opinion. This is pretty standard feminist discourse.

Yes, if you present a non-feminist view, or some kind of atypical view for a feminist board, particularly if you’re a man, you will be in the minority, and therefore outnumbered. That means that you will get a lot of replies and rebuffals, but that is part of disagreeing with a widely-held opinion. If we have to make an effort to play nice, and mollycoddle every man who comments, no matter how ignorant the opinion (not referring to Steve, but generally), we will be taking attention and voices away from women, whose safe space this was supposed to be.

The only solution is to encourage men to examine their privilege and realise they are not entitled to special attention, and that especially as men, being inexperienced in issues that affect women, they may often find themselves disagreeing, but should examine whether women have more experience in the issue, and not assume that they must be right.

Maybe it’s because to me, a long reply is the biggest form of compliment, even if it’s contradictory. It means they took your words seriously enough to think about and post a rebuffal. Sure, they might not have agreed with you, but it’s not like they ignored what you said out of hand.

Rhona // Posted 27 May 2008 at 6:52 pm

Anne, that’s a good point – thank you for replying in such depth. Thanks also to Nina for responding. :)

Particularly liked this point – “Male commenters have the rest of the internet where they can feel superior” – quite right!

My only ‘sticky point’ here is on privilege, which I think is difficult no matter what – personally, I would be happier if no such issue were granted in any case, but hey, there’s 2000 years of Western patriarchal history to butt against…*sighs*

Anyway, sorry for leading things a little off topic. Back to JC! :)

Steve HS // Posted 27 May 2008 at 11:12 pm

Well; there have been a lot of comments. You know? I was getting a bit irked yesterday, but you’ve all got valid points. Apart from David and the Hitler comparison!

I’m also not entirely sure about the “Male commenters have the rest of the internet where they can feel superior” comment, as I don’t feel superior at all.

What’s genuinely surprised me is the almost universal loathing of JC. I had either not considered the offence he may be causing, or I simply took them as a way to stir up debate/shock/horror and/or to get a laugh.

Either way, I won’t listen to his comments again without thinking of this post; so you’ve done your job there!

Good night all…

Anne Onne // Posted 28 May 2008 at 11:42 am

Rhona, actually that got me thinking a lot.

Privilege and how to address it is a difficult issue, precisely because inequalities exist. They are ingrained into the way people act and see other people, to the point where it affects what kind of equality we need to try and foster. That’s why something that might look ‘equal’ on the surface might still allow the same power balance we are trying to avoid.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need safe spaces and a focus on women’s thoughts over those of men, because there wouldn’t be privilege and inequality. Men would have been brought up to listen to women’s points of view, and not assume they are always correct, and women would have been brought up to be as forward as men, and each would respect the other’s experience where an issue affects one more than the other. However, the society we live in is not equal, and tips the balance heavily in favour of some people over others. In order to help those that are normally silenced, we need to encourage a focus on the Other, to remedy the very heavy focus on the privileged that exists. I don’t know if that makes any sense the way I describe it.

Steve, sorry, I thought I was making it clear that I wasn’t referring to you specifically. I don’t know you from Adam, so I can’t say what you’re like, except that you’ve been thoughtful and polite. But a lot of men, in real life and online, DO talk over women, and that’s something we specifically try to avoid when creating a space for women to share their experiences. Men tend to control discourse in most spaces. Just watch a mixed group talking and see how often men interrupt women, or women stay silent when men are going on about something. It’s not that women don’t have an opinion (clearly they seem able enough to discuss it with no men around), but that in a mixed setting they are not encouraged to do.

Actually, Steve, your comment was interesting, because it was about privilege, even though you might not have realised it. When feminists talk about privilege, we don’t just mean big things like walking out alone and not being raped or fearing rape or being blamed for your rape. It’s also about little things like watching something offensive, but not being insulted, because it’s people like you making jokes about people not like you, and you can just laugh it off because ‘humour’ is never focused on you, but on others.

Your reaction to Jeremy Clarkson is perfectly understandable as a man, because he is built in the mould of the ‘bloke’s bloke’ persona, and since he didn’t do anything to offend you personally, indeed lives up to an ideal men are told to aspire to, it is much easier to write him off as merely wanting attention and to cause a stir. Privilege in other respects is just like this. It’s not men actively trying to get one up, but the fact that you just don’t notice some things that affect other people.

I hope that isn’t too much of a lecture.

I do agree, though, he does say things like that to cause a stir and get attention. But that in itself doesn’t make what he does less offensive, because he still tramples over and insults oppressed people needlessly.

Steve HS // Posted 28 May 2008 at 2:19 pm


Thanks for a very interesting post. It’s true that in group interaction, some men do talk over the women in the group; although I hope not any group I’m in!

However – the point you made about being anti-feminist by omission IS true; but it’s also true in many areas of life. We’re all guilty of considering our opinions over other people’s, but it’s an uncomfortable truth also that by not considering the effect of what someone is saying, one may be grouped in with the speaker and his or her views.

It’s so difficult – in fact nearly impossible – to consider the effect of what you are listening to on every person with every concievable view.

But – if we were consciously aware of it all the time, the world would be a much happier place!

Holly Combe // Posted 28 May 2008 at 8:52 pm

Indeed it would but, as you suggest, that would be quite an achievement for anyone! I think all we can do is carry on paying attention to the issues of privilege and prejudice and try to challenge lazy generalisations whenever we can.

I know Rhona didn’t mention any names but am guessing that my rather curmudgeonly retort to your initial comment may have been considered inappropriate. Though I would still defend my initial response, I do appreciate the comments you’ve made since then and agree with Anne that these have been thoughtful and polite.

As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, interpreting tone on the page can sometimes be a tricky matter and, *for me*, the way you asked if your point had “occurred” to us implied that you perhaps thought such a discovery would negate from the points being made in the article. I read your jovial “calm down!” introduction as an attempt to pitch your own take on the matter as The Rational One in comparison to Kate’s. I also thought -at the time- that your reaction to those silly chocolate T-shirts had a whiff of “there’s no such thing as patriarchy” about it. You seemed to be suggesting that the balanced view is that women can do and say whatever they like while men apparently “get lynched” if they attempt to retaliate against such tyranny. This struck me as disingenuous because

1) IMO, the chocolate-crazy female stereotype is not exactly empowering for women in the first place and

2) I’ve seen plenty of men wearing T-shirts with slogans about women on them and do not recall any of them getting verbally set-upon by hoards of angry women

All this prematurely set-off my troll alarm and that was what led to the sarcasm. (In my experience, communicating with trolls in a decent and fair-minded fashion is often pointless because they don’t really seem to want to engage in debate and will tend to simply repeat the same inflammatory generalisations without addressing anything anyone actually says.)

Anyway, I’ve now read all your comments in the thread and appreciate that I could have given you the benefit of the doubt :-)

Steve HS // Posted 28 May 2008 at 10:51 pm


Thank you :-). It’s good to be recognised for not being a complete ass!

I really, really do not want to appear crawly here, but at the risk of doing so, I’ve actually learned some things from these comments that will definitely make me think in the future…

Dare we wrap this up by thanking JC for causing all this fevered debate in the first place?!!

OK, OK, I’m off….!

Morte // Posted 30 May 2008 at 4:08 pm

Okay, personally I agree to a large extent on Clarkson, and have always disliked his arrogant and bigoted personality. (Even though its obvious its often played up for no other reason than its what he is renowned for by a lot of people, like my Mum, who hates him, but loves James May). Unfortunately, I happen to find many of the things Top Gear do to be very funny and exciting, and generally have to ignore him (particularly when its obvious he “wins” the challenges, when its clearl that was the intended outcome).

Generally what Im hear for is to question why, in England, its such a problem to have three white English men presenting a tv show? I mean seriously, what the fuck? I by no means want women or people who arent white off the television, but is anyone really so fucking petty as to see a show and want it changed simply because its three white English blokes presenting it? As an English white bloke myself, Im pretty insulted that its considered a problem that they are English white blokes.

And just to clarify, while I by choice have nothing to do with feminism, I certainly dont have a problem with it either, so Im not hear because I want to “shut you bitches up” or any of that horse shit you probably get sometimes.

Holly Combe // Posted 30 May 2008 at 7:27 pm

I don’t think anyone here is saying that having a programme presented by three white men is a Bad Thing as a matter of principle. However, it has to be said that this exclusivity is combined with Clarkson’s “bigoted personality” and the fact that they are presenting a show about a topic that is stereotypically seen as a blokey one. No-one is saying “ban Top Gear because it’s an all-white, all-male team!” but I do think the set-up is worthy of feminist critique. One reason for this is that the Top Gear team are positioned as adventurers and experts and this reflects an age-old macho white male stereotype. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a wider range of adventurers and experts out there but this is not reflected through equal representation in the public eye. A common retort here could be that this is simply so because of genuine preferences but, at the very least, I would say that ignores the “horse shit” that, yes, we do get plenty of!

I would suggest that it isn’t “petty” to care about fairness or want to address inequality but that it can certainly seem that way if you’re part of the group whose privilege is being challenged. Could it be that you are insulted because, “as a white English bloke” yourself, you sense that your position in society, as part of a group traditionally framed as dominant and leading, is being challenged? Just a thought.

Okay, so you don’t want “women or people who aren’t white off the telly” but what exactly is your point here? Surely only the most openly bigoted individual would come right out and say such a thing (i.e that they want whole groups of people off the telly)? Isn’t prejudice generally more subtle and complex than that?

I’d be more interested to know what you think about how “women or people who aren’t white” are represented in the public eye. I realise there are plenty of foolish representations of white men in the media but look at the lauded leaders, experts and masters and I think you’ll find that the majority of these tend to be white men too. (This is a side-point but, IMO, those Foolish Man representations tend to either serve as a patronising consolation prize for those with less power -i.e a “joke” that men are expected to take out of a sense of smug chivalry- or a way of diverting people’s attention away from the need for feminism.)

In my experience, we tend not to be able to appreciate our own privilege until we are challenged about it. I would suggest that not wanting to take “women or people who aren’t white off the telly” altogether doesn’t automatically prove that you wouldn’t actually prefer for white men to be in charge of it. It also doesn’t indicate whether or not you would prefer for white men to do most of the impressive stuff. Again, this is just a thought because, to be fair, I don’t know you.

Morte // Posted 30 May 2008 at 9:07 pm

This isnt about my privilege being challenged, as its difficult for me to “see” my privilege most of the time. Okay sure, Im not so stupid I cant see stuff like that abysmal problem about rape, and victim blaming that many women might face, or other problems like that involving sexism or racism. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that like anyone else I struggle for money and have a shitty life for the most part. My “white male privilege” doesn’t mean a flying fuck most of the time and it would be no fucking consolation telling myself Im trying to “fight against it”. Its also hard to see how Im supposed to have the “dominant position” in society, at least from where Im “standing”.

Its a problem that representation is poor on tv unless you’re a straight white male, I can sympathise with that. Can you sympathise with the fact that Im not always going to want a show that I like criticised because of that fact? I don’t want white men to dominate tv in terms of control and representation. I would think that just because I don’t support feminism like it’s the road to solving all mine and everyone else’s problems, you automatically assume Im a no good person. Is the fact that Im not with you mean Im against you feminists? Again, this is just a thought because, to be fair, I don’t know you.

Holly Combe // Posted 30 May 2008 at 9:26 pm

What you say about struggling resonates for me because I react in a similar way when my own privilege (as a white person) is highlighted. But just because it is difficult to see doesn’t mean it isn’t there. In answer to your question, no, I don’t necessarily assume you are against feminism because I don’t think boiling everyone’s positions down to “with” or “against” is a helpful way to address inequality. As you have indicated above, there are plenty of ways in which you could be considered to be with feminists but that doesn’t mean I don’t take issue with much of what you say.

I certainly don’t think I gave any indication that I assume you are a no-good person!

Anne Onne // Posted 30 May 2008 at 10:27 pm

It’s not a problem if one show has three heterosexual white men presenting it. However, if nearly all shows are presented by white Anglo-Saxons, and if nearly all of those are men, then it IS a problem, because it does not represent all the people (the majority) who are not male or not white, or not het.

Privilege is also having ‘witty banter’ channel Dave aim itself squarely in your direction, as if witty banter can only happen in a white heterosexual male context, and is only for the consumption of white heterosexual males.

I sympathise that it’s hard to see privilege, but that’s why listening to those who don’t have it is important, and thinking hard about what they say. Because more often than not, when they say there’s a problem and you haven’t thought of it, you don’t see it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

And not wanting a show that you like criticised, even though you know it’s far from perfect is a bit childish. Sorry, but no matter how wonderful a show is, some people won’t like it. And if there are very real reasons to criticise a show, you’ll have to learn to live with the fact that not everyone will like it.

Yes, we like things that are far from perfect, and far from feminist, too. So i sympathise, but you shouldn’t blame people for having a different opinion to you, or for pointing out a problem you couldn’t see because you are privileged. It is tough, because you want the things you like to be good and ethical. But recognising their limitations means that you shouldn’t be angry or defensive towards anybody who criticises a show you like for something you know to be a failing. It’s a hard skill to learn, learning to not be defensive any time people like you are criticised, or things aimed at you are criticised. You have to realise the criticism isn’t of you directly. We don’t hate white men, we wish that the whole world was not aimed at them, or set up to give them special favours.

I’m surprised you come here caring whether we think you’re a good person. Especially since you stated you’re not into feminism, I’m quite surprised you’d care about what a bunch of people with beliefs very different to yours would think.

You haven’t presented truly trollish comments, however, so whilst we won’t consider you a feminist scholar worthy of admiration, I don’t think aynbody would consider you an evil person. Misguided maybe, but you probably think the same of us (doesn’t everybody secretly believe they are right, and everybody disagreeing with them wrong, anyway? ;) )

You don’t need our approval, and you’re not going to get it. For a start, acting as a decent human being, and politely disagreeing shouldn’t be noteworthy, its what we all deserve. That said, I’m not against smiling encouragingly at people taking the plunge into a difficult area, and examining privilege is just that. Something that needs time and work, and we get better at with training. It’s also like giving up smoking. You really need to want to become a more open, listening person to do it. Halfheartedly deciding to kind of quit and kind of want equality doesn’t really work, since even dedicated people slip up.

We’re not here to make moral judgements on other people (you must have us confused with The Mail!), and it’s up to you to believe what you believe. If you publish an opinion here, you’ll get critique and replies, but that’s the same for everyone, and it would be focusing on the words rather than what kind of person you are.

I don’t know if that’s going to come accross as hostile. I want to encourage you to continue, but try and point out that feminism is self-service, and needs a bit of a thick skin. A lot of feminist areas are quite full on to new commenters who ask obvious questions, and I want to warn you that it’s not because feminists think you’re an evil person (I don’t think most believe in evil, anyway), but simply that they are concentrating on womens’ issues, and on working to make life better for women (and by extension for men) by ending the patriarchy and gender expectations. Most of them deal with a lot of crap from male commenters, and it’s not up to them to sift through all of the comments to find the odd one who may want to change. Feminism is rather self-service that way.

So good luck, and please don’t take it personally. It really isn’t about you.

penelope loom // Posted 31 May 2008 at 1:58 pm

Don’t moan – take action. Every time I see a pile of Clarkson’s books in a bookshop or supermarket or even a garden centre (?????) I turn them so that the spine doesn’t show. Or I put books by another author in front of them. Or turn them upside down and bury them under other 3 for 2 offers. Or all three. It feels very satisfying.

Claire // Posted 31 May 2008 at 4:51 pm

Penelope: that isn’t taking action. You’re just making the staff members’ jobs more difficult when they can’t find those books quickly because you’ve been messing with the stock.

Tony Smith // Posted 8 June 2008 at 7:35 pm

I’m a fire-fighter from Manchester. I now have a job in community safety, which involves working with young offenders and giving talks in schools. Part of my remit is to educate young people about car crime and responsible driving. There are approx ten deaths and ninety injuries everyday on the roads in Britian, which has a terrible impact on so many families.

Clarkson must have some influence over our impressionable young people. If he acted more responsibly, it would make my job easier.

I agree with everything that Kate had to say. Not just from a road safety point of view, but also because he has a total disregard for the environment. Whether you agree with the global warming theory or not, just imagine for a few moments that we lived in a world without cars……. woudn’t it be a much better place.

Elizabeth // Posted 19 June 2008 at 10:54 am

Hi all! I’m going to make a very shallow and 1 dimentional point: I too CRINGE whenever I see or hear Jeremy Clarkson. We see Top Gear here in New Zealand too and at first I thought his humour was funny, dry etc. and watched the show. HOWEVER I was very quickly put off it because of the fact that he’s so blimmin confident and arrogant when he’s middle aged and unnattractive. I know that sounds cruel, but if he was a woman he’d be hounded for being old and unattractive or somethin equally shallow about his physical appearance or age and yet we have to put up with seeing him so sure of himself, full of sexual innuendo and all coming from his nasally voice and ugly mug. *shivvver* I know that sounds insensitive but I have TOTALLY had it up to **HERE** with so many messages aimed at women not to be unattractive or ageing, yet a bloke like him can not only get a job in the first place, but be up on a pedistal (self appointed or otherwise) and SO cocky. Over here, I think our culture is even more one-sided than a lot of places with our “Kiwi Bloke” type role model for men. Here, we are constantly reminded how blokes are allowed to be gross, loud, immature, overweight, badly dressed, old: and still be loved by society while all women have to be sexy, seductive and young. Who’s fantasy is that? Certainly not mine. He just TOTALLY winds me up in the same way, I get the feeling most of the women that are ever invited on that show are only there because theyre sexy. I’m sorry to put forward such a seemingly juvenile reason for loathing him but the day ‘unattractive’ or ‘older’ women have equal visibility in the media to their ‘unattractive’ or ‘older’ male peers, I’ll stop hurting about the appalling double standard I guess.

Maia // Posted 19 June 2008 at 3:16 pm

Clarkson! New Zillun sounds a blimmin awful place.

Aimee // Posted 19 June 2008 at 7:55 pm

It’s kind of interesting that you notice your use of double standard, but that doesn’t excuse it, in my opinion. Without trying to sound harsh and critical, how is berating Clarkson for being ‘old and ugly’ any different from mentioning the same of a woman? It’s pretty hypocritical, really. I mean, what do you expect the man to do? Look in the mirror and resolve to be depressed and withdrawn because he doesn’t adhere to stipulated male beauty myths? I can’t quite understand why this facet of his personality makes you angry? Yes, he’s a tosser, but that has nothing to do with appearance. As a woman, I don’t want to be lumbered with a generic classification, and as such, I won’t do the same to men. Saying ‘all men are this’ is just as bad as saying ‘all women are that’, privilege or no.

Aimee // Posted 19 June 2008 at 7:58 pm

… and whilst I do see your point that there is an appalling double standard in this regard, we should be bringing ourselves UP, not bringing men down. Women should be free to be loud and fat and ugly and arrogant and boistrous without the inhibitions of gender encroaching on that right. Not that men AND women should be equally concerned about how young and sexy and nubile we are. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, I don’t mean it to. I just think if we’re striving for equality, we should put it into practise.

Elizabeth // Posted 19 June 2008 at 10:05 pm

Hi Aimee. Yes I totally agree with you. I feel exactly the same, that NONE of us should be controlled by such shallow appearance or age related criteria. It’s just that I never see or hear the viewpoint bringing ordinary women up…only constant messages bringing us down: telling us we have “unsightly wrinkles”, “embarrassing scars and blemishes?”, terrible “7 signs of aging”, ugly cellulite” and the only women you see presenting are beautiful while there are plenty of men who are up there, valued even though they are not. (Which if course is the way it should be for all of us). Its just that I find it galling when the ordinary women are hidden away for their supposed flaws, while men are being championed for all the things we are told make us repulsive.

Jacinta // Posted 20 June 2008 at 11:14 am

I think Jeremy Clarkson is a brilliant presenter and interviewer. He’s got a big ego, definitely, he’s loudmouthed, opiniated, bullish, brazen, argumentative, provocative but I can’t help liking him for his integrity, courage, charisma. I don’t often agree with what he says. But he’s a natural, he’s not worried about convention. I prefer his personality to eg Gordon Brown who appears wooden and insipid in comparison. I don’t really think that Jeremy Clarkson expects to be taken seriously. I know nothing of his personal life, I may be wrong, but I imagine him to be a doting husband and father with maybe three daughters who have him round their little finger.

Danny // Posted 20 June 2008 at 12:45 pm

I don’t think Jeremy Clarkson is sexist, I just think he’s a bit of an idiot. And you wouldn’t say he’d done a lot for the cause of road safety.

I think a lot of the posts on this topic are pedantic, and some sound frankly unbalanced.

Aimee // Posted 20 June 2008 at 8:38 pm

Quite right , I mean, I don’t know him. I’m pretty certain the man has some distasteful right wing sensibilities, but that doesn’t mean he should be subjected to this kind of abuse.

It’s interesting, Elizabeth, that you mention ‘beautiful’ TV presenters. I often wonder whether there really is an objective definition of beauty? I know that there are tribal peoples who worship large women and find them the pinnace of beauty. Lady Qin of the Chinese Qin dynasty was astonishingly, morbidly obese and was considered fantastically beautiful. Given, this was more to do with a woman being a physical display of her husband’s wealth than an appreciation of women in general, but it just goes to show that attractiveness is utterly subjective and completely dependent on the context of the contemperaneous culture.

Ian // Posted 28 July 2008 at 12:00 am

The politically incorrect nature of Top Gear is what is so refreshing.

I dont think you’ll find many people who agree with everything clarkson says.

It’s popularity is purely based on how ‘un-pc’ the show can be as it is an escape from the droll lives most lead or feel they lead. (red tape, taxes, paper work)

Clarkson fills the role nicely, however, this does not mean there isn’t space for an “anti-top gear” on TV. i.e. total opposite…. whatever that maybe?!

paddy fletcher // Posted 11 November 2008 at 12:13 am

Clarkson is toxic.

Everything I dislike about my own sex.

Fizzatron // Posted 3 December 2008 at 12:43 pm

So who cares if he says cars don’t harm the environment, or that ken Livingstone is stupid, car tax is too expensive etc… It’s about time that someone stood up for what is right in this country (like Jeremy is doing) and made a stand against all this pathetic left wing pandering to the wishes of Guardian readers and corrupt politicians who’s only wish is to please europe. Jeremy makes a stand against all this rubbish and he should be commended for it. As for having 3 heterosexual presenters… what’s the problem there? I would hate to have a car programme fronted by someone like Graham Norton, or a lefty twit who thinks that big cars are bad, and that the only car to own is the awful Toyota Prius or heaven forbid a diesel. Ohh and another thing… we like people in the public eye who won’t let germany forget who won the war!!

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 3 December 2008 at 2:23 pm

The irony is that Hitler was homophobic. Like you. If there was to be any point to us defeating Hitler at all it has to be so that we can continue to stand up to people like you.

Fizzatron // Posted 3 December 2008 at 5:21 pm

Top Gear is politically incorrect and it seems quite a few people dont like it… well tough luck. It wasn’t aimed at lefty twits driving hybrids at 25mph and chomping organic beans. It’s intended to be watched by people with a sense of humour who enjoy cars and motoring in general for what they are… having a thin lipped librarian type woman presenting a show like that would never work; it needs laddish presenters who get on and can have a joke to enable it to be entertaining. VBH and that woman off Badger Watch used to present the older format Top Gear and they made it boring… Badger Woman with her interest in reviewing dull cars and VBH with her constant poor driving and squeaking for no reason round every corner. Top Gear as it exists now is perfect, so the lefty bean chomping twits can stop complaining about Clarksons jokes and trying to get the airfield they use closed due to noise pollution… you twits if you buy a house near an airfield you expect it to be a bit noisey, it’s as bad as the people who buy houses near Brands Hatch and then complain to the council about the noise from racing engines. Idiots.

Fizzatron // Posted 3 December 2008 at 5:25 pm

“Originally posted by Kate Smurthwaite:

The new version has always been 100% male – and for that matter 100% white and British. And the standard of the banter went with it. Cars that Clarkson doesn’t like are referred to as “gay” or “girly” – as though those were insults. Women are standardly referred to as “birds”. The focus of the show shifted from reviewing cars to frivolously taking pointless journeys, racing sports cars against military vehicles and aircraft and sometimes even destroying perfectly roadworthy vehicles.”

It’s funny… you make that sound like a bad thing.

Anne Onne // Posted 3 December 2008 at 5:40 pm

What exactly IS it to be un-PC, though? I mean, if you look frankly at the sheer volume of people claiming to be un-PC, (normally used as a defense before they insult some minority or claim they don’t matter) they’re not a small minority of individuals railing hard against a world and a government which is trying hard to eliminate them. Boris Johnson is about as un-PC as they come, for a start.

In an era where practically nothing has been done to cut CO2 emissions, how politically incorrect is it to not care, when the official stance is barely better? How un-PC is it to make rape jokes or sexually harass women when a tiny percentage of rape trials ends in conviction, and most aren’t reported? How un-PC is it to be transphobic or homophobic, when people still die because of other people’s disgust at their sexuality or gender identity?

And when we have so many accients on the road, most drivers drivng over the limit or drunk or on drugs, how ‘different’ is Clarkson really being? Anything he does isn’t some cool rebellious move that nobody has thought of: it’s merely a more pronounced version of the same behaviour everyone (government included) shows. How politically correct, actually. If Boris Johnson has shown anything, it’s that being ‘politically incorrect’ can be politically correct. If it really WERE incorrect, and people were afraid to say it in case they were looked down on, I doubt you’d hear so many declarations of rebellion as we do.

It’s just a sad gimmick by those who belong to a privileged majority and who feel that their privileged way of life is going to change, who resent being told not to use the ‘n-word’ or that they can’t sexually harass their female work colleagues or be fired for being otherwise discriminatory.

Hazel // Posted 3 December 2008 at 7:51 pm

“Anything he does isn’t some cool rebellious move that nobody has thought of: it’s merely a more pronounced version of the same behaviour everyone (government included) shows. How politically correct, actually.”

Brilliantly put.

My name is Jose // Posted 3 December 2008 at 9:45 pm

Firstly, a nod to Rhona for a good post.

Secondly, this raised my eyebrows a bit…

“if you enjoyed that sort of thing”

I kind of get the feeling the author seems to lack empathy with your average motorhead. It feels a bit like Brian Sewell discussing the merits of Banksy.

Top Gear, in it’s prior incarnation, died a lonely death. People weren’t that interested in watching a televised version of Autocar and Motor.

However, as Andy Wilman and Clarkson did know, people were interested in watching what happens when a reliant robin gets transformed into a space shuttle.

Silly? yes.

Great telly? Certainly.

For Clarkson himself, I’d take him with quite a large pinch of salt ( he’s no more serious than say Charlie Brooker )but it would be well worth having a sensible think about why this man is so popular at the moment.

Just reducing him into this faux-panto villan and calling him names, doesn’t answer this question at all.

Sabre // Posted 4 December 2008 at 9:36 am

The reason it wouldn’t work with a female presenter on Top Gear is not because the woman is likely to be a ‘thin lipped librarian type woman’, i.e. boring, it’s because the male co-hosts wouldn’t be willing to treat the woman as an equal. In fact their heads might even explode were they to confront a brassy funny woman who was really into fast cars but wasn’t a testosterone-driven idiot. How on earth could they assert their superiority with one less demographic to sneer at?

On a tangent, The Gadget Show which comes on Channel 5, is really excellent in that it has a woman presenter who knows her stuff and has a sense of humour. She does all the same stuff as the men, they treat her with respect, if she fails it’s never because she’s ‘just a girl’ or ‘a bird’. They do silly stuff and compete using the gadgets, but unlike Top Gear, it doesn’t feel like a cock-fight, (and yes I mean cock like penis).

Fran // Posted 4 December 2008 at 10:10 am

Anne Onne, you just summed up exactly what goes through my mind whenever someone complains about “political correctness”, and put it far better than I could!

My name is Jose // Posted 4 December 2008 at 12:25 pm

“The reason it wouldn’t work with a female presenter on Top Gear is not because the woman is likely to be a ‘thin lipped librarian type woman’, i.e. boring, it’s because the male co-hosts wouldn’t be willing to treat the woman as an equal. In fact their heads might even explode were they to confront a brassy funny woman who was really into fast cars but wasn’t a testosterone-driven idiot. How on earth could they assert their superiority with one less demographic to sneer at? ”

You mean like this one?


I don’t remember Clarksons head exploding but I do remember him getting his arse kicked, in a race, whilst he was driving a jaguar and she was driving a van?

She actually made such a good impression, she won a TG ‘Best German’ award, at the end of the series, a few more guest spots and has resultantly got her own gig hosting a car programe in Germany called D-Motor.

Has to be said, there’s a lot of prejudgemental views being aired here.

Rachael // Posted 4 December 2008 at 2:40 pm

Sabre – thank you for saying what I wanted to say about The Gadget Show!! I love it – because I can see a cool woman who is treated with respect. Oh – and I like gadgets too!

I think the reason that Top Gear is still so old-fashioned and sexist is maybe because cars are still seen as a male interest (not that am making excuses for their sexism).

Gadgets are a newer concept and although men have attempted to claim them as theirs – they are seen by society as something women are interested in too (more so than cars anyway).

I think many men still see their cars as something only they should care about – so they want Top Gear to be all blokey and macho. And of course in this way it works – because making Top Gear blokey and inaccessible to women does make many women avoid the show. Sad really – and kind of desperate. But that’s patriarchy!!

And Anne Onne – beautiful!! Exactly my thoughts. Cannot count the amount of times people have used “Yeah…but I am un-pc” as a justification for some stupid racist, sexist or homophobic comment. To be “un-pc” is really very mainstream!

Anne Onne // Posted 4 December 2008 at 4:13 pm

@Fran & Hazel: Thanks. :) I wondered why it took me so long to realise why the phrase ‘politically correct’ bothered me so much, because it was hard to pin down, owing to the amount of conditioning we get that being liberal/considerate is bad bad BAD…Then along came a thread on phrases you can’t stand over at Shakesville and all the folks talking about political correctness switched a lightbulb on in my head.

@ Sabre: I know! The Gadget show is definitely superior! A female presenter (more, please?) and a lot less we’re-being-manly-men-for-other-manly-men assumptions in how the show is portrayed make it much more appealing to watch. Though it helps that I prefer gadgets to cars in general, but I honestly would find Top Gear more amusing if it had less Clarksonalia…

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 4 December 2008 at 4:19 pm

Of all the bizarre things – just as this topic seems to have re-heated, I was in a lift this lunchtime with none other than Clarkson himself. I was over at BBC Two to talk to appear on the Jeremy Vine show to discuss the Miss University London pageant. No idea what Clarkson was up to.

While in the lift he said “This is actually too low for me”, standing on tip-toes and jabbing the light fixture with his head. And since I did want to be on the Jeremy Vine show I didn’t say “You might want to try not standing on your toes, unless of course you’re trying to bang your head which would explain a great deal about your offensive low-grade presenting patter.”

Now he sounded very bunged up as he said this and someone asked him if he was ok and he said “I sound awful [check], but I feel fine, I never get flu”. I thought wow – even flu viruses won’t go near him, amazing.

It was a pretty small lift though. There would be a certain twisted irony if I actually caught some horrible bug off of him now.

While I was waiting for the interview I also shared a sofa with Jason Donovan. Eat your heart out groupies. Nothing exciting happened.

Sabre // Posted 4 December 2008 at 4:33 pm

@ My name is Jose

Thanks for the interesting info on Sabine Schmitz. I have to note that she was not a presenter though, just made several appearances. Holding up a token guest who’s made around 3 appearances over 98 episodes doesn’t exactly sway my opinion.

Again a slight tangent, I had a look at the Wikipedia page for Top Gear and note that of their 12 series so far, a whopping 84% of their guests were men.

So as well as never having had a female presenter they’re not exactly flying the flag of diversity with guests either (who are usually just random celebs). One could argue that this is because women are less into cars, but could that be at least partly because of shows like Top Gear not exactly being welcoming or respectful of women?

And yes I’m having a slow day at the office to have bothered tallying up the Top Gear guests! :-)

Fizzatron // Posted 4 December 2008 at 5:06 pm

Good call Jose!! I bet some of the people on here judging top gear to be sexist have no idea about people such as sabine appearing on the show. It seems a few people just want to wave their femanist handbag at everything they simply don’t like.

Fizzatron // Posted 4 December 2008 at 5:10 pm

Ohh and to the person who likes the gadget show but doesnt know the name of the female presenter… she is called Suzi Perry and she happens to be a petrol head; especially when it comes to motorbikes, she even presents Moto GP on BBC. so before you get on your high horse and start blaming BBC motoring programmes for not involving women, just stop to think whether your argument actually has a base in reality.

Sabre // Posted 4 December 2008 at 5:20 pm

The gadget show actually makes me like gadgets more because the show is so accessible and doesn’t offend me. Having Suzi Perry present actually says to me ‘this show is for you too’. She’s cool! Apparently she also has a love of motorbikes.

If Top Gear had a great woman presenter I imagine it would interest many more women in cars.

Sabre // Posted 4 December 2008 at 5:34 pm

@ Fizzatron

‘Ohh and to the person who likes the gadget show but doesnt know the name of the female presenter’

My name is Sabre. How ironic of you to patronise me with your assumptions without using MY name.

I do actually know Suzi Perry’s name, but didn’t mention her by name in my post. For that I apologise to Suzi (should she ever read this). Although I didn’t know until just now that she presents Moto GP, but that’s because I don’t watch that show! lol

And I wasn’t talking about BBC motoring programmes, just Top Gear. Seems like you’re the one ‘waving your handbag’ at something you don’t like: someone who questions a popular white-hetero-male-centric TV show and doesn’t think the same way as you.

Anne Onne // Posted 4 December 2008 at 6:44 pm

OOH, My feminist handbag! Can I have one with the feminist fist on the front, or at least a pair of angry ovaries?

Of course, it’s impossible that any of us have WATCHED Top Gear, and noticed that the vast majority of guests (and all presenters) are male, or the kind of content. No, we’re just pre-judging. Funny, you’re the ones assuming that nobody here has so much as watched an episode of Top Gear, and that just because we haven’t mentioned any women’s names we don’t know what they’re called or that any women have been on the show. Pot, kettle, black?

Besides, if you want to discuss how great Top Gear is with like-minded individuals, you kinda came to the wrong place. Feminists are mostly liberals, and liberals tend to have a thing about people who love being ‘un-PC’. Coming to a feminist site and being shocked that feminists might find an all-male show about cars and how much manly men love them sexist?

It’s great that they’ve had people like Sabine Schmitz on (though I wonder if the original plan was to laugh at Germans or prove women can’t drive as well as the boys: certainly had she not been exceptional it would have been chalked down to one or both of these factors), but it doesn’t make the show faultless or not sexist.

@ Rachel:I’m not sure the difference in the attitude to gadgets comes from the same place that you suggested (ie because they are more recent), mainly in that cars are a type of technology, and neither pre-dates the either. But I do think that electrical goods have a much wider base: they are less expensive than cars, are bought for children, and the marketing to women has been very direct (with the nasty idea of making everything pink and more expensive than for men, and forget mentioning the spec!), whereas the assumption with cars is still that men love cars for the sake of driving red, shiny fast machines, and women just want a small cute car they can park, a division men and women are encouraged to live up to. Car geekery is part of the appeal of the show, in a way that gadget geekery isn’t part of the Gadget show, not to the same extent. A large part of the marketing of technology these days has been to de-emphasise the traditional white male ‘computer nerd’ aspect, that anyone can use technology, so as to appeal to as wide a base as possible, and that’s reaped rewards in getting women interested as well.

Obviously, there are still women interested in cars, and women interested in hardcore tech geekery, but they face a lot of assumptions based on their gender because of their specific interest in male-dominates aspects of those areas.

I think the Gadget Show focuses more on moderate-level tech awareness, catering more to a mainstream audience interested in learning a bit about tech than hardcore fans. Were that the issue, I suspect it may have been different, more sexist. Which is a shame.

My name is Jose. // Posted 4 December 2008 at 8:27 pm

“Thanks for the interesting info on Sabine Schmitz. I have to note that she was not a presenter though, just made several appearances. Holding up a token guest who’s made around 3 appearances over 98 episodes doesn’t exactly sway my opinion.”

Well you did state what would happen if they had to “confront a brassy funny woman who was really into fast cars but wasn’t a testosterone-driven idiot.” and I told you, she had them eating out of her hand..they certainly never exploded?

As for guest situation, I’d of thought that was more to do with theTop Gear booking agent than Clarkson?

And lastly, here’s what Clarkson had to say to Ellen McCarther, when she went on the show ( and posted the fastest non-racing driver lap )

“It’s because of people like you that humanity went out into the unknown, if it was down to people like me..we’d all still be living in caves.”

Now that doesn’t sound very sneery to me.

My name is Jose // Posted 4 December 2008 at 10:02 pm

“Anne Onne said:

OOH, My feminist handbag! Can I have one with the feminist fist on the front, or at least a pair of angry ovaries?

Of course, it’s impossible that any of us have WATCHED Top Gear, and noticed that the vast majority of guests (and all presenters) are male, or the kind of content. No, we’re just pre-judging. Funny, you’re the ones assuming that nobody here has so much as watched an episode of Top Gear, and that just because we haven’t mentioned any women’s names we don’t know what they’re called or that any women have been on the show. Pot, kettle, black?”

Well I think this concerns me.

I don’t think I said that ‘nobody here has so much as watched an episode of Top Gear”?

As for the all male presenters, well in fairness, it has been pretty successful and popular too; plus the TG production company isn’t owned by the BBC (one of Greg Dykes legacies concerning using hired guns instead making TV programmes ‘in house’).

So making a comparison between the first incarnation and second isn’t really accurate…there’s not a chance on earth that a BBC production team would sanction half the stuff that goes on in the current version.

“Besides, if you want to discuss how great Top Gear is with like-minded individuals, you kinda came to the wrong place.”

I just debated a few things, that had been stated, that’s all.

If you don’t like debate, then just say the words and I’ll be off.

“Feminists are mostly liberals, and liberals tend to have a thing about people who love being ‘un-PC’. Coming to a feminist site and being shocked that feminists might find an all-male show about cars and how much manly men love them sexist?”

I think I may of raised my eyebrows a little but shocked is probably over-egging it.

I just found it puzzling that the author feels strongly about a TV show whose content (mainly high performance cars) doesn’t seem to interest her that much..”If you like that sort of thing” was the phrase that intrigued me.

If the author was a car fan, ( who the show is meant to cater for ) and felt put out by the presenters and shows tone, then I could understand but I don’t think she is a car fan?

“It’s great that they’ve had people like Sabine Schmitz on (though I wonder if the original plan was to laugh at Germans or prove women can’t drive as well as the boys: certainly had she not been exceptional it would have been chalked down to one or both of these factors), but it doesn’t make the show faultless or not sexist.”

Well isn’t that a little indicative of your own perception/prejudices maybe? That you wondered if the producers wanted to humiliate Sabine?

Because if that was their plan, then specifically picking a successful racing driver, who had grown up next to the circuit they were about to race on, held the circuit record for most laps completed ( it was something ridiculous like 20,000 ), that would have of been diabolically poor judgment on behalf of TG’s researchers, no?

Sabre // Posted 5 December 2008 at 9:37 am

@ My name is Jose

Tis brilliant that Sabine Schmitz made such a good impression. But she was a GUEST, not a presenter. I obviously didn’t make it clear enough in my original comment (or maybe I did but you didn’t get it), but I was referring to having a woman PRESENTER on Top Gear, and how the male presenters, Clarkson and co. would deal with a cool woman co-host on a regular basis.

‘As for guest situation, I’d of thought that was more to do with theTop Gear booking agent than Clarkson?’

Yes. I didn’t say it was due to Clarkson.

General comment: holding up a few token examples of where a woman has been included in a predominantly male environment does not mean things are equal and there is no sexism. Recent jokes from good ol’ Clarkson about truckers murdering prostitutes have shown that.

Fizzatron // Posted 5 December 2008 at 6:20 pm

Well said Jose… if the females on here had their way every show on TV would be another episode of Lose Women; god the horror of that thought!! It seems that people just like to complain about stuff that they think will offend them without ever actually looking into the subject; such as idiots that go on about 4×4 drivers harming the environment and personally complaining to them in the street, without even realising that the saloon car they’ve been standing next to, actually has a bigger engine. Haha! Not that I’m condoning off road vehicles… I think they’re really boring vehicles and they belong in the countryside.

Jennie // Posted 6 December 2008 at 2:18 am

Ellen MacArthur also topped the “fastest star” board for a very long time.

I’m not going to comment too much here, but I have to say that I’m a feminist, and a card-carrying Liberal, and a big fan of Top Gear in general, and Clarkson in particular. Yes, he’s boorish and idiotic, but that’s why he’s funny.

I think there’s a lot of generalising going on in this thread about what you MUST think and you MUST like if you subscribe to a particular philosophy and that strikes me as rather authoritarian.

Anne Onne // Posted 6 December 2008 at 2:12 pm

I think we’re at cross purposes here, and probably have more in common than not.

My name is Jose, you said that there are ‘lot of prejudgemental views being aired here’, which implies views from people who don’t know anything about the show. After all, you can’t be ‘prejudgemental’ if you’ve seen the show, because you’d be basing that judgement on experience.

I don’t expect TV shows to be respectful of women, because they’re usually not. I don’t normally expect them to be outright hostile, but then whenever I watch DAVE-esque programmes, I’m reminded on a frequent basis that women should be treated differently.

I’m willing to admit when shows do something right (including women like Ellen McArthur, Sabine Schmitz

Also, the author of the post was specifically more interested in the opinions Clarkson expresses in several media, not just the show.

Besides, it’s not like you can really avoid Clarkson, nor do I think discussion about his opinions should be limited to people who watch all the episodes of Top Gear or consider themselves petrolheads. If he talks about a whole lot more than cars, there are a lot of things that one may take an issue with that have nothing to do with whether you like cars.

”I just debated a few things, that had been stated, that’s all.

If you don’t like debate, then just say the words and I’ll be off. ” Ah, that wasn’t directed at you. Rather it was directed at posters whose answer to feminist concerns was nothing more than ‘I like Clarkson, and you all can’t know what you’re talking about, you just WANT to be angry’ as a method of silencing them on a post specifically about criticising Clarkson from a progressive perspective.

As long as someone’s not denying anyone disagreeing with you (or agreeing with the tone of the post) the right to speak their minds, or expressing discriminatory views as per the comments rules, the bloggers publish comments, and all’s good.

It’s more a general ‘well if you don’t like the tone of the blog, and can’t respectfully articulate an opinion without telling the feminists to shut up, you can go somewhere where they won’t bother you’ standard response. Feminists get a lot of people who come over to be violently argumentative, hurl lots of personal insults, tell us all we’re making an issue about nothing, and generally disrupting comments. Sometimes it’s good to remind people before we get to that stage that if the tone of a blog doesn’t suit, it’s best for all to go elsewhere.

But I have more issues with Fizzatron’s wording than yours. Fizzatron’s the one assuming that all we could possibly want is Loose Women (a show I don’t think many feminists like, actually). We don’t want every show to be all about women, we just want them to be represented! Because, having one not-very-entertaining, and shallow as hell all-woman show in the middle of the day does not mean that we don’t want to see women on shows about anything else! Why can’t we have women on shows about cars or technology or football, or news or trivia or whatever? We’re not asking for all shows to be all-woman, and to claim we want this is to misrepresent us by making us out to be extremists wanting to take over television. You don’t have to worry about your favourite shows being staffed only by women, and having no men with your interest on those shows, because very few shows are all women or mostly women. But so far many primetime shows of the DAVE variety are mostly staffed by men, with the odd woman on occasionally at most. We’re simply asking to be included more fully, and to have less insulting language flung our way.

And ‘It seems that people just like to complain about stuff that they think will offend them without ever actually looking into the subject’ is making it out as if we’ve none of us ever watched an episode of Top Gear, or read/listened to anything that Clarkson has said.

The assumption here is that none of us, or few of us here who complain about Clarkson’s words and opinions know what we’re talking about, and want to be offended is in itself offensive. Instead of focusing on what Clarkson says, or why we might be offended, it diverts discourse to us proving we really are offended and that we really have seen an episode of Top Gear or read something of Clarkson’s.

How plausible is it, even, in this day and age that someone will have no idea of anything Clarkson has said or done? Bearing in mind that this post is originally about him and the views he presents, on the show or otherwise, rather than about show formats, even though we’re justified in pointing out that a few women out of hundreds of guests isn’t equality.

BTW: I dislike 4X4s because they’re ugly (matter of personal opinion), have no benefits outside of the country, and are more dangerous to those that they hit than a normal car, because they hit the body higher. I also object to people’s beliefs that they are ‘safer’ cars as justification, because lots of people driving these cars makes the world less safe for pedestrians. Not that I think people should be banned from choosing them. The point is, there may be many reasons to dislike 4x4s and assuming that people just have one, reactionary, ill-thought-out reason that they want to force on everyone is wrong.

Same way I object to the infrequency of women on DAVE-type shows, or the way language in these shows is used to frame women as being lesser by being ‘girly’ etc. I’m not suggesting that the shows (or even Clarkson) have no merits, or that nobody should watch them (myself included), but that those who are critical have a right to be so. Barack Obama’s being elected hasn’t ended racism in America, and in just the same way, the odd woman being treated respectfully on these shows (whilst great) doesn’t mean they’re not problematic in other ways.

And for the record, Fizzatron? We’re WOMEN. Unless you’re presenting a natural history programme or doing a scientific study on animals, the word ‘females’ is rude and condescending. It frames people as nothing more than a bunch of organisms of a particular sex, and if you’re talking about someone in front of them, it’s nice to address them as if they’re there and have agency.

Jennie, nobody’s telling you or anyone else not to watch Top Gear. Sure, Clarkson’s entertaining. Sometimes genuinely, sometimes in a car-crash Daily Mail kind of way (I guess I have a masochistic sense of humour), and several commenters here have admitted they watch the show in spite of Clarkson, or even because of him and his persona. Nobody was suggesting that nobody should watch the show, but pointing out what they see as flaws in the current format, and wishing Clarkson could be less offensive. If you’re referring to my comment as authoritatian, I was trying to put accross the point that it should not be surprising if feminists have an issue with sexist (or homophobic, or xenophobic/racist etc) language, or the shortcomings of the show from a gender perspective. By all means, nobody’s claiming that you HAVE to hate Clarkson to be a feminist. Simply that for many feminists, his humour won’t outweigh his faults.

This post isn’t about the merits of Top Gear, it’s not even really about Top Gear itself, but about the views Jeremy Clarkson puts out. He’s well paid to air his thoughts on TV shows, in newspapers and in bestelling books, so criticising his opinions, and looking at the impact they might have based on his popularity with the card-carrying anti-PC crowd is valid. Were he just some random man mouthing off, there wouldn’t be this much of a furore around him, but he’s well paid to express these views, and many people support him.

If you disagree: if you can’t see what the fuss is about, or like Clarkson, or whatever, fine, you’ve a right to your opinion. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t a right to ours, or that ours are based on irrational hate for the sake of hate, whereas liking Clarkson or not finding him offensive is rational. We can agree to disagree, but that doesn’t mean that our offense is wrong.

Laura // Posted 6 December 2008 at 2:39 pm

I LOVE cars, and generally love messing about with them – not particularly into the big fast ones, though many of my fellow female car-geek friends are, more the hard core ones covered in mud that I need a massive spanner to do anything with and can take anywhere! That and vintage cars… if only I had a spare £20,000 to buy one with! I therefore watch and enjoy Top Gear, especially some of the stupid things they do – my favourite so far being the Africa trip (because they were totally ripped off when they bought the cars), and the time Stig drove the car off the ski ramp (tied).

HOWEVER, I would watch and enjoy it more if I didn’t have to listen to deeply offensive comments on a regular basis. Even if the prejudice was implied, however, strongly, it would be better than the producers and the BBC thinking it’s OK to make these kind of comments on publically funded TV (though not as bad as when they explicitly let Chris Moyles get away with calling things ‘gay). And yes, a kick-ass female or gay presenter (there must be an English version of Sabine Schmitz out there somewhere!) would rock.

With this in mind I wonder how many people are watching Top Gear DESPITE Clarkson being an idiot, compared with how many watch it because they find his persona amusing. Yes, the banter between the three is funny, but I can’t see it being less funny if they took out the offensive bits.

Finally, being un-PC is usually just a euphamism for being rude. And there’s no excuse for bad manners. If you want to be a misogynist bastard, fine (well, not really, but you know what I mean), but keep a civil tongue in your head.

Kez // Posted 6 December 2008 at 6:00 pm

I’m giggling at Fizzatron’s “femanist” – I’m sure it’s not really a Freudian slip, but it’s still funny.

Aimee // Posted 6 December 2008 at 8:27 pm

I kind of, strangely, have to (sort of) agree with Steven. The thing about Clarkson is that.. well.. no one takes him seriously. He’s a bit of a joke. We all laugh at him. No one REALLY wants him to be Prime MInister. He’s a bit of fun; an old, poorly dressed, laughably altmoded old git. I watch Top Gear with my dad all the time, and have done ever since I was quite small and whilst it DOES seem to be dominated by men, the entire tone of the programme is kind of… a little bit sad. I think, subtly it enforces ANTI role models for men. No one wants to be like Jeremy Clarkson or James May or even token ‘attractive, young one’ Richard Hammond. Men don’t aspire to be them, women don’t aspire to be them. He might be abhorrantly mysoginist and right wing, but I think that’s the point. He’s a pillock, his views are ridiculous and we know it.

Anne Onne // Posted 7 December 2008 at 1:03 pm

Aimee, the thing is, I DO know people who take him seriously. Actually, I know people just like him. So whilst I can agree that he can be taken as an old-fashioned grump to be laughed at, there’s a more serious side to this, because he is influential. He’s only a harmless bigoted idiot to people with the knowledge to know better than to take him as anything other than satire, or if you’re fairly liberal, but that’s clearly not a description that fits everybody. If everybody DID see him for the bigot he is, we wouldn’t have inequality because people wouldn’t say the same things he says, but they do. If he broadcasts views that are picked up and echoed (and have always been held) by other poeple, then he isn’t harmless, because he’s reinforcing discrimination.

As for the show portraying anti-role models for men: I agree, but I don’t think it’s intentional. The way the patriarchy manifests itself now often sets men apart as idiots, presenting them as hypersexual, blundering buffoons who women need to pity/domesticate, implying that men are by and large interested in nothing more than sports, sex, cars and whining.

So I understand that you and some others don’t take him seriously. Neither do I, since I think he’s playing himself up. But the point is, I don’t think it’s realistic to suggest that because we try not to be bigoted, that everyone else does, and that nobody takes him seriously. There are many that do. Hell, there wouldn’t be a whole army of people proudly declaring themselves ‘un-PC’, and the phrase wouldn’t even be in common parlance if there weren’t many people just like him!

My name is Jose // Posted 7 December 2008 at 9:38 pm

Just one last thing before I sod off.

“Holly Combe said:

One reason for this is that the Top Gear team are positioned as adventurers and experts and this reflects an age-old macho white male stereotype”

“Anne Onne said:

As for the show portraying anti-role models for men: I agree, but I don’t think it’s intentional. The way the patriarchy manifests itself now often sets men apart as idiots, presenting them as hypersexual, blundering buffoons”

If there’s a better demostration of collective cognitive dissonance, then I’ve yet to see it!

Jennie // Posted 8 December 2008 at 2:16 am

Anne, when did I say you haven’t got a right to an opinion? When did I say you were wrong, or irrational, or hateful? All I said was that I find the man entertaining. I didn’t cast any aspersions on people who don’t. My throat is a little small for you to jump down quite that quickly, mind if I lube up first?

Aimee // Posted 8 December 2008 at 7:52 am

Anne, I see your point; that Clarkon is taken seriously by some. Fortunately, I don’t know any of them! But yeah, I understand what you mean about the armies of anti-PCers harping on about how it’s their right to call a spade a spade and whatnot. I suppose I have a different experience of it. Almost everyone I know reads the Daily Mail because it’s funny, and make fun of people like Clarkson because his views are so dated and so ridiculous, it almost seems as though he’s joking. I don’t know if this is the image he is attempting to present, but either way, I don’t think it’s doing him any favours. The male stereotype he portrays is frankly, offensive to men AND women and that’s why I consider him more hamrless than not; because he’s annoying everyone so no one takes him seriously. I would be interested to meet the kind of ignoramus who actually does take him seriously!

Tom // Posted 30 December 2008 at 11:02 am

There is something about all of this. I am a Clarkson fan and i was looking just to see blogs like this where people are going on about his racist comments and his views on life. But this started getting me thinking, (has anybody realised what there doing?) things like this are making him richer and richer every year. People like it when he gets others anoyed its like he a brother, he enjoys it when people actualy take him seriously so he carrys on. And if he is being serious about something maybe he has his reasons. I saw a video of imigrants burning the union jack outside the british embassey. And we all see there reasons. I hope this will atleast shed some light on what he does and why he does it.

Alice Meibours // Posted 1 January 2009 at 8:51 pm

I don’t know I guess I am simple. I work 15 hours a day 3:00am- 6:45pm to support my three boys while my ex is doing whatever he wants but participating in the work of raising these kids. I come home after I tucked the kids in and this show is as good as late night simpsons. Clarkson and what he says are perfect to laugh at. As far as I know that is the point of the show. I get up every morning happy look at my three beautiful boys sleeping get their lunch ready for school and then I head out as I kiss them on the head. I am not mad at the world and everyone is very nice to me and I am nice to everyone. I guess thats why I enjoy the show. JC is just making money the same way I do doing what people will buy. He goes home every day to his wife and kids. He loves his wife very much and for him to still be with his wife he is quite a man unkile my ex he actually brings home some money. He speaks what most people feel. Every time I am charged a tax I know thats food from my kids mouth I know thats one more hour at work. I know that it hurts and as things go up I just have to work more. I dont care if he uses words like ‘bird’ and ‘bat’ thats the banter that guys use. I wouldnt have it against an old man who is extremely racist and sexist that was the way he was raised that is the environment he was brought up in. My kids come home with language like that and its the boys. I think it is petty that people do this behind the back chit chat about boys and girls and stuff. This type of opinionism is like being back in school with nothing to do during break but talk bad about the boys. I thought as we grew up that went away but our level to accept and understand that things are funny and laugh at stupid sarcastic comments was a level of growth. I can see with how worked up people on this blog have gotten about JC’s comments on air, this blog are like school girl comments and its quite funny. Jeremy speaks his mind and gets paid for it. I am speaking my mind, and getting paid for it (holiday pay). But as for all of you I bet you are seriously still school girls speaking your mind because there is nothing better to do quite sad really that none of you have a life or kids or priorities for that matter to sit around and figure out the carbon emission differences between a super car and an astra! I wish you all to have a better new year and a more successful one so you dont have the time to sit around and rant on about someone and their job. Maybe you yourself can go out and start something more than a blog and actually get paid for it expressing your views instead of just the same old boring complaints about JC being a man and loving going fast. BTW, have you ever been really fast in a proper car? It is quite a thrill I have traveled lots in my day and been to the autobahns in Germany and seen speeds in excess of 150MPH driving in a Mercedes what a thrill.

corky // Posted 4 January 2009 at 6:20 am

why do u hate him so much? ¬¬ if u ask me hes a nice guy, hes funny and i enjoy all top gear shows. please people, when you think deeply about this… do you really care? if you dont like him as much as you say then why bring him into your life more by creating a site for it? people you dont like are like babys crying on an airplane, theres nothing you can do about it, so ignore it.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 4 January 2009 at 7:16 am

It is pretty funny the number of people coming on here saying “If you don’t like him – why not just shut up?” to which I can only reply “If you don’t like my criticism of him – why not just shut up?”…!!

FACT 1. Women have been told since the dawn of time that their true power lies in shutting up. It hasn’t been true yet.

FACT 2. Shouting about things and making a fuss has furthered our cause over and over again. Noisy, angry obstructive women got us the vote, the right to equal pay, sexual freedom, everything.

FACT 3. Loads of people have come out of the woodwork since I wrote this piece to tell me they hate him too, they don’t let their children watch him because they find him offensive,etc. Bringing these people together and putting our voices together increases the power of these voices.

FACT 4. Change happens. A few decades back racists were all over the media. Now they are a small minority. We can (and will) do the same for sexists.

The revolution is coming and Clarkson is on his way out.

Aimee // Posted 4 January 2009 at 1:34 pm

” But as for all of you I bet you are seriously still school girls speaking your mind because there is nothing better to do quite sad really that none of you have a life or kids or priorities ”

Um, many of us do, and the opinions of those that don’t are no less valid than anyone else’s. I don’t want them growing up thinking that the bigoted opinions of this horrible man are something to live by. I don’t want my daughter growing up thjnking that being called a “bird” and being subject to constant sexual scrutiny by men is okay. So it’s NOT schoolgirl criticism, it is the criticism of a bunch of people who are deeply concerned with the venemous society they are living in. Thanks very much.

corky // Posted 7 January 2009 at 4:50 pm

whoa easy… since when did i say about woman not having equal rights and stuff about them being told to shutup. i was raised by a man and a woman so i dont find them inferior in any way, shape, or form, and i didnt tell you to shut up at all, so dont even think that. like i said, hes best ignored and i believe you are taking this waaaay to seriously. and if i wanted a fact file… i would have googled it.

David Pomfret // Posted 8 January 2009 at 1:02 pm

I totally agree with most of what has been said about this idiot. He is in second place in my all time hate list (the top place has been occupied on a permanent basis by Thatcher since ’79)

When Top Gear started in the ’70s it was a reasonably intelligent programme, it featured articles on better driving, maintaince, etc and featured the kind of cars normal people drove.

Ever since he took it over it has become a stupid, juvenile, forum for overgrown schoolboys and Clarkson’s ignorant, boorish right wing bigotry.

I dont like his attitude towards things or people he doesnt like and I dont like the way that they deliberaterly trash things, including nice examples of the Marina and Rover SD1, both of which should be saved by enthusiasts

He puts himself forward as a motoring expert but could not even change a tyre


Mike // Posted 9 January 2009 at 9:08 am

I think the word “HATE” is a little strong. If people didn’t like him, he would be as popular as he is. But in life, there will always be people that don’t see eye to eye with others. For every person that “hates” Jeremy Clarkson, there are 9 who hate ugly, bitchy feminists who have nothing to do but complain about others.

corky // Posted 9 January 2009 at 11:25 pm

the amount of sexism and discrimination in topgear is tiny compared to mordern day life. he has done nothing compared to some of the things that are said in cartoons, such as “family guy” and “southpark”, and they are cartoons! to be honest, your making a mountain out of a molehill, and since when did i tell you to shut up kate. and if i wanted a fact file i would have googled it

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 11 January 2009 at 4:37 pm

Corky – when you say “if you don’t like him why create a site for it?” i can only interpret that as you advising me to shut up. You are not the only commenter to come on here and post THEIR opinion which is that I shouldn’t bother expressing MY opinion. Well doesn’t work both ways.

Mike – you are a troll right? I would normally not publish your remarks but since they are attacking mostly just me I figure I can take it and I think it’s interesting for the wider world to see the sort of unpleasantness that shows up when a woman expresses her opinion freely. Do you have a point or is referring to me as “ugly” and “bitchy” the best you can do?

Missy B // Posted 13 January 2009 at 8:14 am

Thank god someone else agrees, I think the guy is a complete w**ker! I hope he takes his right-wing secular political views back down the pub where they belong and well away from our sensitive British public. Lets face it, most TV watchers are too stupid to think past what someone else’s viewpoint is – this man is dangerous.

David Pomfret // Posted 13 January 2009 at 11:12 am

“If people did’nt like him then he would not be as popular as he is”

A statement of the obvious. I mean The Sun and Daily Star are popular but does that make them any good? No, they are just garbage which appeals to the brain dead. Top Gear is the same, it has no good points whatsoever, it is just a bunch of smug, opinionated, middle class brats being indulged by the BBC at the licence payers expense.

It contributes to and taps into the underlying unpleasantness which has permeated society over the last 25 or so years, sneering at people and things just because they are’nt “cool”. In some way I think that there was more tolerance when I was growing up in the 60s ansd 70s, noone them gave a toss about what you wore or what gadgets etc you had or ridiculed you if you were a train enthusiast for example.

Clarkson is the embodiment of the awfulness of conspicuous consumerism and smugness, the programme is utter, utter, utter shite

Martin // Posted 16 January 2009 at 10:33 pm

Sorry, I think I am about to break most of the 6 points on comment advisory. Let me start by saying, what an extremely stupid woman you are. Jeremy Clarkson is a man who has achieved much with his career. He takes pride in explaining to a massive, global audience, his love of cars and his views and opinions. Top Gear is a show for ‘car people’. It is the nature of human beings that people, more likely to be interested in cars, are men. Women, and I’m generalising rationally here (as he does), are often more interested in other things, like knitting and house work. Jeremy Clarkson is, above all, a journalist, who’s job is to provide the world with this own, published insight. You are criticising a man for doing a job, rather like you would criticise Wimbledon for not letting Serena Williams play Roger Federer in a singles match. Jeremy Clarkson, like everybody else in the U.K., has a right to a freedom of speech and opinion. As a journalist, he is required to broadcast his opinions. I doubt anyone has ever criticised you on an internet blog for doing your job. But, of course, why would anyone care, as you are far less significant than Jeremy and contribute far less to this planet. Funny, you criticise him for polluting the planet. Yet, this article is polluting the internet. At any rate, I doubt you have ever spoken to or indeed met Mr Clarkson, and are simply making generalisations based on his television appearance. So, my dear, why don’t you get back to your knitting and stop wasting our time trying to write bad on one of the legends of the BBC.

Steph // Posted 17 January 2009 at 11:03 pm

Eh?! I thought I must be reading something else for a minute – quite why are comments such as those from Mike and Martin, which appear to offer nothing constructive whatsoever, being published? Martin, for example, being able to call someone ‘an extremely stupid woman’.

What happened to TFW being a womens/Feminist space?

Ruth // Posted 17 January 2009 at 11:10 pm

Comments policy?

See ‘Martin’s’ ignorant and mysogynistic rant above…yes, I know it shows him for the moron he is, but.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 17 January 2009 at 11:18 pm

Martin – I’m just going to line-by-line your comment to demonstrate how ridiculous it is:

“Sorry, I think I am about to break most of the 6 points on comment advisory.”

I like you already. And anyhow I published your comment so you’re clearly not as hard as you think.

“Let me start by saying, what an extremely stupid woman you are.”

I think as we go through your remarks we’re going to find the reverse is true.

“Jeremy Clarkson is a man who has achieved much with his career.”

I do not deny he’s doing well. If no-one had heard of him, I wouldn’t be angry about his work.

“He takes pride in explaining to a massive, global audience, his love of cars and his views and opinions.”

Yes and those opinions are often misogynist, racist and homophobic.

“Top Gear is a show for ‘car people’.”

Yes but his columns in the political sections of major newpapers are clearly intended for everyone interested in politics. And that’s basically everyone if you care about human life on this planet.

“It is the nature of human beings that people, more likely to be interested in cars, are men.”

Now I’ll ignore the grammatical mess here which means you’ve basically said “people are men”. Unless you live in Saudi Arabia you’ll find that a majority of adult women drive cars. But it’s also a big case of chicken and egg – I think if driving was seen as a dull chore it would be about 10 seconds before it was considered a “women’s interest” subject. We’ve created a link between men and cars with all the glamour models at car shows and in magazines and with people like Clarkson who are very alienating towards women.

“Women, and I’m generalising rationally here (as he does), are often more interested in other things, like knitting and house work.”

I think more women know how to drive a car than how to operate knitting needles. But even the women too busy hoovering to drive will still be reading Clarkson’s political articles.

“Jeremy Clarkson is, above all, a journalist, who’s job is to provide the world with this own, published insight.”

“Insight” here presumably a euphemism for lies, oil-industry agenda and hate speech.

“You are criticising a man for doing a job,”

No -I am criticising a man for doing his job very, very badly.

” …rather like you would criticise Wimbledon for not letting Serena Williams play Roger Federer in a singles match.”

I didn’t say that. And how exactly would that be “letting a man do his job”. If anything I’m doing MY job – highlighting misogyny in the widespread media.

“Jeremy Clarkson, like everybody else in the U.K., has a right to a freedom of speech and opinion.”

Indeed he does. And so do I. Mu opinion is – he’s awful and he shouldn’t be given so much air-time.

“As a journalist, he is required to broadcast his opinions.”

Yes and as a feminist blogger I am required by my reading public to tear those opinions apart and expose them for the rubbish they are.

“I doubt anyone has ever criticised you on an internet blog for doing your job.”

Yes, they do, all the time. They also criticise me for things I write on blogs. For instance you a minute ago said I was “an extremely stupid woman”. That sounds to me like (unfounded) criticism. At least I have good reasons and explanations for my criticism of Clarkson.

“But, of course, why would anyone care, as you are far less significant than Jeremy and contribute far less to this planet.”

Well if you think pushing the oil industry agenda to slow government progress on preventing climate change is contributing to the planet, so be it. But otherwise I’d say he’s hurting the planet and I’m trying to stop him. Also it’s odd that since I am less known than Clarkson you seem to think I shouldn’t bother saying anything. Do you think small cafes should close because there’s already a MacDonalds branch in town. Why should there be a cut-off point of fame below which you are no longer entitled to express your opinions?

“Funny, you criticise him for polluting the planet.”

Yes I do. Do you defend this?

“Yet, this article is polluting the internet.”

And you adding to your comment to it is presumably polluting my article. Did you want an internet of pure Clarkson-focused adoration? Surely the good thing about the internet is that there’s room for a range of opinions.

“At any rate, I doubt you have ever spoken to or indeed met Mr Clarkson, and are simply making generalisations based on his television appearance.”

Actually I have met Clarkson, see my blog. But I am criticising his television persona. It would actually be wrong of me to allow my experience of him as an individual to cloud my response to his work.

“So, my dear, why don’t you get back to your knitting…”

This is clearly an attempt to dismiss me basically for being female. This is exactly the attitude which I am suggesting Clarkson promotes and in real life contributes to ongoing inequality. Thanks for demonstrating so clearly.

“and stop wasting our time trying to write bad on one of the legends of the BBC.”

I didn’t make you read the article. And I didn’t exactly give it an ambiguous title – you knew what you were getting.

Steph: To explain – each writer on the F-word moderates their own comments. I’m not a regular writer – I’m an occasional guest-writer. My approach/attitude is to let people say their piece (unless it’s (a) spam or (b) offensive about someone else – another commenter or a known figure or whoever). I let these comments through because although he insults me, I really don’t care and am not hurt/upset by it and I think it is useful to allow the public to see the sort of attitudes that we are dealing with. I then reply (usually within a few minutes of approving the comments) with a response.

Fran // Posted 17 January 2009 at 11:21 pm

I thought the same thing as Steph — Martin is definitely sexist and probably a troll trying to rile some feminists (I have difficulty believing that *anyone* thinks knitting and housework are among women’s chief interests, but maybe that’s too hopeful!), and made several personal attacks. I’d rather comments of this sort weren’t published, since they distract from meaningful discussion, but of course it’s up to Kate.

Fran // Posted 17 January 2009 at 11:22 pm

Ah, sorry Kate — posted before I saw your response.

Kez // Posted 18 January 2009 at 11:55 am

Well, Martin’s comment certainly broke the comments policy, but it gave me a laugh, so thanks for that!

I particularly enjoyed:

“Funny, you criticise him for polluting the planet. Yet, this article is polluting the internet.”

Martin – you’re priceless!

Excellent response from Kate, especially about Martin wanting an internet entirely composed of Clarkson-focused adoration, as he apparently does.

Oh, and I loved the knitting jibes. Top-quality debating tactics there, Martin!

JenniferRuth // Posted 18 January 2009 at 1:42 pm

“Jeremy Clarkson is, above all, a journalist, who’s job is to provide the world with this own, published insight.”

I thought a journalist was meant to provide us with facts and unbiased, accurate reporting. Anything else belongs in opinion and editorial articles.

Jou // Posted 18 January 2009 at 4:23 pm

How do some of you function with so much hate inside you?

You must spend every waking minute of your lives looking for something, or somebody, to spit your venom at.

Relax. Life’s much better when you live it. Not when you attack it.

polly styrene // Posted 18 January 2009 at 4:44 pm

“As a journalist he is required to broadcast his opinions”.

Really – what happens if he doesn’t? Will the BBC dismiss him for being insufficiently misogynist and homophobic? Is it in his contract?

Off to get on with knitting my sweater with the special “Clarkson is a w**ker motif” (and I really can knit by the way, I’m very good at it).

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 18 January 2009 at 4:55 pm


No you see we have less hate inside us. We don’t hate women. Or gay people. Or people of a different race to ourselves. If you sit back and relax it is a matter of time before all the nasty hatred that media figures like Clarkson spout will fill you up too. And as for getting on with living our lives… I wrote this article in MAY. You are the one still commenting on it.

aimee // Posted 18 January 2009 at 7:36 pm

I find it ridiculous that so many people dismiss other people who feel that they are being discriminated against, just because those people themselves are not being discriminated against. Why should we not be outraged and upset that someone is degrading *us* as a demographic, and why is it so abhorrant that we express that upset in a forum for people like ourselves? This is the very reason forums like this need to exist.

I peronally feel that trolls shouldn’t be consored. They show quite nicely that there IS a problem and it DOES need to be addressed.

David Pomfret // Posted 19 January 2009 at 12:51 pm

I hate quite a lot of people too, not just Jeremy Clarkson.

Where do you want me to start…

The PC brigade

Human Rights lawyers who regard anti social louts who make law abiding peoples lives miserable as “victims” and want to support them

The aforementioned anti social louts

Daily Mail readers

Daily Express readers (a pathetic Daily Mail wannabee)

Sun readers

People who bought shares in privatised utilities and Railtrack and moan when they dont get their dividends


People who started supporting Man U in about 1994 when they started winning things and dont have any connection with Manchester


Green eco fascists

and so on and so on and so on..

I function very well with lots of hate.

Sabre // Posted 19 January 2009 at 5:19 pm

I think Martin is a comedy genius! That hateful little rant sure tickled my funny bone! Good thing feminists have thick skin and a sense of humour.

chris // Posted 8 March 2009 at 3:41 pm

topgear is entertainment thats it pure and simple all these people saying “it has no relivance to the average man” its not ment to have any point to it its fun and of the wall thats why everyone loves it. And this babble about clarkson being a racist sexist idiot, this is just complete and utter b******s because he represents every single working class man everywhere and if he’s so crude and unlikable you tell me why he has been on the air for 20 odd years?

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 8 March 2009 at 5:23 pm

Really chris? There are hundreds of concrete examples of Clarkson making obviously sexist, homophobic, racist remarks. If you believe he represents working class men I think that is pretty offensive to working class men.

As far as I’m aware less than 50% of the population watch Top Gear so maybe you should tell me why they keep him on air when most people don’t want to watch the show? Because that’s not how it works… A show needs an audience. Of course there are people out there with offensive opinions, for instance members of the BNP, but I think it’s time we stopped creating TV shows specially for them and then marketing them as “lifestyle” shows for “ordinary” men. Lets instead use the power of the media to stamp out hate, tackle climate change and promote better practice in the industry.

Kez // Posted 8 March 2009 at 6:00 pm

“He represents every single working class man everywhere”? Blimey. Bit of a sweeping generalisation, don’t you think? EVERY SINGLE ONE?

Anyway, I believe Clarkson went to public school, so I’m not all that sure of his “working class” credentials, somehow.

Aimee // Posted 8 March 2009 at 7:52 pm

I wonder if “most working class men” would be offended at being labelled racist, Chris? Just because you belong to a demographic doesn’t mean you speak for them all.

Felicity // Posted 9 March 2009 at 1:34 am

“Anything he does isn’t some cool rebellious move that nobody has thought of: it’s merely a more pronounced version of the same behaviour everyone (government included) shows. How politically correct, actually.”

I really enjoy AnneOnne’s posts, she reminds me of Hermione (Harry Potter) *blush*

As to HATE being a strong word, I can’t think of anyone more worthy of it than the guy. Someone has to be held responsible for the English version of the genre ‘dude’.

Giuseppe // Posted 9 March 2009 at 1:31 pm

Jeremy Clarkson is great !!

Top Gear is the most watched show on BBC 2, why would you cancel it ?

rita // Posted 9 March 2009 at 6:32 pm

I am not a fan of racing cars or motorcycles or his show in that case. The one time i happened to watch a bit of it was when he expressed his hate for speed cameras with no valid reason, and i switched to another channel immediately. I did not know he had all these other things going on around him, well i guess i do not have to try and watch his shows to please my friends. Phew

Anne Onne // Posted 9 March 2009 at 8:41 pm

@ Guiseppe: Equating asking Clarkson to keep his comments to cars, and avoid insulting people who aren’t like him is hardly calling for Top Gear to be cancelled. Furthermore there may be good reasons for a show to be cancelled regardless of popularity.

@ Felicity: *blush* Hermione is an amazing female character for today’s girls to relate/aspire to, and very flattering to be compared to. :) Credit has to go to hundreds of eloquent, badass feminists whose posts inform and educate me every time I read or reply to them. So many women and men (and everyone in between) I have absolute respect for.

As to actually talking about Clarkson: I certainly hope not every working class man he supposedly represents is as sexist, racist and homophobic as people defend him for being. Many probably are, but that doesn’t make airing such views acceptable or un-criticiseable.

Kay // Posted 9 March 2009 at 9:47 pm

I once announced in a tutorial on poetry that “Oh, I hate Carol Ann Duffy!” My tutor respoded with, “You do not hate Carol Ann Duffy. You may dislike her poetry; you may dislike her prose; you may even disagree with her politics. However, unless you have an intimate knowledge of her character and her failings, I am certain that your last statement was inaccurate and childish.” (Yes, he really speaks like that)

I’ve never forgotten that. I hate what Clarkson stands for, and the views that he promotes; but as a man ^shrugs^

Chris // Posted 11 March 2009 at 10:28 pm

I like Top Gear and he can be very good. His humor and the way he delivers is what I like best, for example, “This car is the colour of a prosthetic limb!”

And yes, there are things I dont like about him. . .


What concerns ME most with the whole “Clarkson” band wagon, is the fact that many people actually want this guy to be Primeminister and how he is looked up to as the almighty God himself.

I know hes arogant and shovenist and this is irritating, but thats what sells unfortunantly.

As I said, I do like Top Gear and will always watch it, but its how he is admired that annoys me the most.

Petra // Posted 12 March 2009 at 10:14 am

Its well known that JC likes the Range Rover. Clearly RR have returned the compliment, by designing the vehicle in the shape of JC’s head. Have a look.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 12 March 2009 at 2:05 pm

Well I didn’t used to like him but now I hear he makes jokes about prosthetic limbs I’m going to start tuning in every week… What a nice guy.

Kez // Posted 12 March 2009 at 4:50 pm

He also, using his gift for trenchant political satire, finds it humorous to scoff at Gordon Brown for his visual impairment.

Oh, my aching sides.

Johnny // Posted 19 March 2009 at 1:14 pm

Heres an idea…If you all hate him so much don’t watch top gear and stop reading things he writes! Theres plenty of people that I can’t stand, and when I come across an article that they have written or a tv show that they are presenting I stop reading/watching! It’s amazing how much it helps.

Michael // Posted 19 March 2009 at 8:59 pm

Hes a wanker!

End of.

Madeleine // Posted 20 March 2009 at 1:50 pm

Johnny, that is so true. I feel a lot better when I simply refuse to read or listen to anything written/said by the

l-o-n-g list of people I personally can’t stand. And if any of them come up on the screen I immediately switch to another channel. It’s empowering!

Miss Ojje // Posted 28 April 2009 at 1:20 pm

Clarkson is not INTENDED to be serious! Let me see now, what’s the first casualty of being too PC? Ah yes…humour. This is an entertainment program, not a review programme. MANY more people now watch it, INCLUDING many women. Clarkson’s female interviewees are accorded the utmost respect, and as for the fantastic Sabine driving at Nurnburgring…wow!

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 28 April 2009 at 1:55 pm

Really Miss Ojje? Did you not bother to read the article before you waded in with your oh-so helpful opinion. Let me quote a bit back to you:

“The trouble is he isn’t just a (or the) car show presenter any more. He’s gone to great lengths to present himself as a spokesman for the white middle-class male adrift in a sea of political correctness. His website (and I know, I know, it’s a joke…) says “Jeremy Clarkson – Clarkson information, books, DVDs, forum, and news from Britains next prime minister?”. And if that’s just a joke, why have nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking for him to become prime minister? He writes newspaper columns – and they appear in the political pages, not the motoring pages. His books include collections of poltical essays. The style may be “fun” and chatty to read but he’s covering topics like Basque separatism and war in Iraq.”

As far as I can tell that totally answers your point and is right there is the original post.

Miss Ojje // Posted 28 April 2009 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for your reply. I see you have completely missed the point. Had it occurred to you that 50’000 people signing a petition for Clarkson as Prime Minister might not be entirely serious? Why are you so ANGRY? Do you really think that people take any serious notice of him? Stop giving him, as he himself would admit, more credibility than he deserves.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 28 April 2009 at 2:30 pm

If he doesn’t want to be taken seriously as a politician – why is he writing articles about the situation with Basque separatism, about the economy and immigration policy. These are not inherently “light” subjects so far as I can see.

And just because something is funny or intended to be funny doesn’t somehow magically exempt it from criticism.

As to “why are you so angry?” – that’s just an odd thing to ask. If you look at the article (again) I’m making some big points about how for instance Clarkson is contributing to the complete destruction of the whole planet through climate change. If that doesn’t make you angry you should worry. Yet weirdly you actually seem more angry than me. Yours are the comments littered with capital letters.

And as to the notion that I am adding to his credibility by taking him seriously. I think my whole article is an appeal to stop taking him seriously. It is not me who offers him a regular column in a national newspaper. If anything you are the one adding to his credibility by trying to defend him.

Sabre // Posted 28 April 2009 at 2:40 pm

@ Miss Ojje

Clarkson may not be intending to be serious but that is how some people take him. Of the 50,000 people signing that petition, some would have been joking but a large number would have been serious. I think the point being made is that yes, he’s a joker, but also seems to be taken quite seriously by sections of the media and public. And when someone begins to be considered as an authority or person of influence they are open to scrutiny. Where’s the harm in us being critical of someone whose opinions we dislike and find harmful or offensive?

If you don’t agree please do so respectfully. Not liking Clarkson doesn’t mean someone has no humour or is ‘so ANGRY’. Kate’s pretty funny actually.

Steven // Posted 16 May 2009 at 2:45 pm

That’s the thing about Clarkson, he gets your attention by using his politically incorrect way of putting things (which, by the way, I fully support). He’s a TV personality, and his job is to get people to watch him, to look at him.

As far as I could tell, the “racism” I see on Top Gear is typically just stupid stereotypical nonsense; I see it right away, but it’s all in the kind of humor I would expect from Top Gear — far from political correctness. Besides, their trips to Vietnam and Japan showed JC’s ability to cope with cultural foods. As far as I could tell, he didn’t seem to be lynching Lewis Hamilton on his show, either.

He’s opinionated, and continues to do so because it works! Maybe he loves the attention. Maybe he just loves to hear himself. The fact is, there is absolutely no need to take it personally. It’s media, and you can typically expose yourself to the material you want. There’s plenty of media which would tell you males are stupid and “green” environmentalism is the solution. This is just the other side of it (although the “males are stupid” isn’t completely played down) with a bit of fun.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, since trying to change someone’s opinion over the internet is usually futile. Oh well.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 17 May 2009 at 11:36 pm

Yes well anyone who doesn’t “lynch” Lewis Hamilton can’t possibly be a racist. See also “my best friend is black”, “I once shared a flat with a gay guy so I’m not homophobic” and “how could I hate women – my mum’s one”…

Aimee // Posted 18 May 2009 at 8:06 am

Ohhhhh! It’s media! So we shouldn’t be offended about how we’re consistently portrayed ‘cos it’s all just a bit of a laugh! I should have known! Silly me.

And Clarkson? Well he eats japanese food, so he can’t be racist.


You don’t realise that you speak from a position of priviledge. You have the priviledge not to be offended by this because it’s not directed at you, and you don’t have a cultural and social history of constantly being treated like this. Did you ever consider how pissed off it makes other people when you tell them that something they’ve taken offense to is ‘just a bit of fun’… maybe to you, friend. But you’re lucky that way.

Max Powerrrr // Posted 30 May 2009 at 9:27 am

If JC is the biggest problem in your life I congratulate you.

Aimee // Posted 30 May 2009 at 11:18 am

Did anyone say that he was ‘the biggest problem’ in their lives? Have you come here just for a little dig? Should I really be bothering with someone calling themselves ‘Max Powerrr’ anyway?

Possibly not.

Anonymous // Posted 23 June 2009 at 6:22 am

Maybe you should all get a life. I must admit that I am a Top Gear fan and watch the episode every week. You people all sound smart but why don’t you get that this is all a great big joke?

Come on, seriously: do you really think he would even RUN for prime minister, alone be elected? (I think a lot of people signed that petition just for fun).

Ask yourself: Why do 250 million viewers around the world watch Top Gear? BECAUSE ITS FUNNY!!!

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 25 June 2009 at 5:12 pm

Erm if you read my article I offer lots of examples of why it’s not treated as a joke. And even if it is – why should we accept racist misogynist humour?

Toki Smoki // Posted 11 July 2009 at 11:39 pm

I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson hates you too

Liz // Posted 12 July 2009 at 5:28 pm

If Jeremy Clarkson hated me I would take it as a compliment.

Ryan // Posted 25 December 2009 at 7:33 pm

Frustratingly that as a man, I seem to be one of the few who find Clarkson hyper-conservative and just genuinely insulting. People seem to be confusing honesty, entertainment, and “getting real” with a complete detachment from being responsible. He knows his comments on the environment, political reactionism, and women are wrong, but like Howard Stern in the U.S., unless it impacts his paycheck, he will NOT change.

As an American, I’m also INCREDIBLY tired of his insulting generalizations about us. Inbred hicks who are gun happy, etc., etc. You can add James May to that bullsh*t too.

Peace Out.

SQUIDWARD32 // Posted 30 October 2010 at 1:01 pm

You said “I hate Jeremy Clarkson”

Almost the whole world’s reply is “I hate him too”

If you hate Jeremy Clarkson, good for you, I do too.

Evan // Posted 23 February 2011 at 7:47 am

“Anti-feminist comments will not be approved. We get to decide what’s anti-feminist.”

Free comment not welcome, eh? Scared of views that don’t align with yours? “Deepens analysis,” but please, in a superficial, friendly-to-us manner.

This won’t get approved, which only furthers my position. Open, robust debate and the marketplace of ideas seem the only way for the truly best ideas to rise to the top.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 February 2011 at 4:56 pm

We wouldn’t normally publish such a frightningly robust comment as this but Evan’s debating prowess has convinced us it’s only fair that we let him dominate in the marketplace of ideas by allowing his insightful view to rise to the top on this occasion. We think you’ll agree it’s pretty scary stuff and that publishing such a noble defence of free comment puts the F-Word at grave risk of shame and humiliation. However, we’re painfully aware that we’ve already undermined Evan’s position by approving his comment (Sorry Evan!) so I think we’d better close the discussion now before we are set upon by a gaggle of incredibly witty and clever Top Gear fans, keen to defend their leader Clarkson and bring down the evil feminists who dare to suggest he is not amazing.

(Joking aside, this is probably a good time to quickly mention that we’re generally going to start closing comments for very old guest entries, as it’s easy to miss new and occasional ones if nobody is receiving notifications as they come in.)

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