Friday, February 04, 2011

On the whole Top Gear-Mexico thing

I watched the recent offending episode of Top Gear, where the usually entertaining Clarkson and May were joined by Hammond, offered their insights into a new Mexican car, and wondered aloud who would want a Mexican car? Fair question; Mexico doesn't exactly have a proud history of motor manufacturing - so who would shell out money in recessionary times for a Mexican car? I was expecting the follow up comments to be jocular car-related rants about the ineptitude of their cars handling, or something similar. Instead I was treated to five minutes of second hand stereotyping. Second hand in that commentary on the work ethics of Mexicans is entirely derived from America, since Britain does not have a significant Mexican community on which to base such frivilous assertions.
Auntie has defended this by saying that exploiting stereotypes for honour form a large part of British comedy. This is true, and when middle of the road comedians are making jokes at the expense of the French (they're rude!) and Germans (towels on the deck chairs!), it can be passed off as banter, mainly because these countries have long histories with each other. Further evidence could be gleaned from Boris Becker's interview later in the show, where he revelled in the accusations of efficiency. But to simply poach a hackneyed cliche from a different culture and ring every unfunny drop out of it, just for the sake of picking a fight (which it appeared was what they were doing) is just, ironically enough, lazy.
Top Gear has definitively jumped the shark (I would say when they started getting guests like Tom Cruise on it, rather than the usual blend of mid table actors and washed up rock stars, although the unmasking of the Stig debacle probably didn't help) and this is probably another piece of timber for the coffin, but let's hope they can get back on track and make the show we love again. I refer you to the feature where they challenged the Australian Top Gear presenters with Ashes jokes and reckless manoeuvring in oversized vehicles - more of this kind of childishness please!