The Truth of Top Gear

Is there a darker side to the thrill of the politically incorrect?

Britain cars colony controversy cricket Gandhi india isabel errington Jeremy Clarkson patriotism political correctness racism richard hammond top gear TV

It is widely know that Jeremy Clarkson is an opinionated right-winger. But does Britain’s embrace of the Winner of the Special Recognition Award in 2007 indicate our own national superiority complex?

On the recent Top Gear feature in India, the BBC were forced to defend the programme against criticism from the Indian High Commission, which deemed Clarkson and his duo lacking in cultural sensitivity.

Though the programme argues that they merely showed the country ‘warts and all’, their proclamation of the motto ‘Bring Britain Back’ in a country which was only freed from British occupation in 1947 was unsettling to say the least.

Boyish banter, or something more sinister? 

Yes, they branded this catchphrase with the mild emphasis on marketing British products to help the economy, but this was not explained on the enormous banners flaunting the British flag that covered the trains for local people to gasp at in horror. And to be honest, the highlight of the show was the cricket match (note, a colonial sport) played against the locals. Gandhi would certainly not have been impressed.

We can appreciate the show’s banter, but what we should be doing is questioning ourselves; having a think can go far. Why did 5 million viewers tune in to see what we knew would be another Clarkson catastrophe on the diplomacy front? Why do we all revel in rebelling against the politically correct?

Clarkson and the opinions which have made him such a lot of money obviously hit home to a huge audience: is his appeal vicarious or even nostalgic, for the good old days when men were men, cars were cars, and “abroad” was populated by inept stereotypes with funny accents?

No other country has coined such a term ‘politically correct’ and we seem to have forgotten why it was needed in the first place: to prevent the deep seated arrogance of the Brits from humiliating us in front of the international community, who see us as a small island that still mistakes imperialism for patriotism.