First a disclaimer: I dislike the BBC and quite like Jeremy Clarkson.
With every word out of his mouth, the sacked presenter of Top Gear challenges the prevailing ethos, especially its more revolting aspects so ably promoted by the BBC.
Clarkson talks and writes in a lucid, entertaining and occasionally witty fashion, with none of the emetic self-righteousness typified by the network’s ‘serious’ programmes.
He is the quintessential Jack the Lad, not the anthropological type that appeals to me before all others, but surely one preferable to the pseudointellectual lefties making up the bulk of the BBC staff.
Moreover, I am man enough to admit that I like cars (and I know real conservatives aren’t supposed to), if not quite with the same pitch of demotic passion exuded by Top Gear.
Hence over the years I must have watched a dozen Top Gear episodes, which, among BBC programmes, places it second in my affections to Match of the Day (another disqualifying factor for a real conservative I’m afraid).
If you detect a sense of mild, dispassionate approval for the show in general and Mr Clarkson in particular, your antennae are in working order. However, there is nothing mild and dispassionate about the contempt I feel for the BBC and everything it represents.
The network, this side of Top Gear and Match of the Day, proves my deep-seated conviction that trendy lefties aren’t just misguided but actually stupid.
Nowhere is this law of nature revealed more palpably than in BBC ‘educational’ programmes that are, with one or two exceptions, culturally demotic, intellectually feeble and morally decrepit.
Having said all that, it isn’t immediately obvious how such BBC highlights as Match of the Day, Top Gear, along with its once and future stars like Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand, uphold the corporation’s charter.
The Charter specifies the desiderata the BBC must pursue in order to qualify for public money. The five off the top are:
· Sustaining citizenship and civil society
· Promoting education and learning
· Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
· Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities
· Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK
At the risk of sounding elitist, one may argue, albeit timidly, that the kind of education, learning and cultural excellence meant there aren’t to be advanced by watching Mr Clarkson drive unaffordable cars at illegal speeds, or by hearing yet another tattooed chap with learning difficulties gloat how he “hit it first time, and there it was in the back of the net.”
Admittedly, the footage of English football fans rampaging through the streets to the accompaniment of the ‘Ingerland, Ingerland, Ingerland’ chorus does convey an idea of Britishness to the world, but I’m not unequivocally certain this is the best idea to convey.
I’d suggest that the demonstrable failure of the BBC to meet its Charter requirements is sufficient grounds for it to lose its licence fees and fight for its share of voice in the commercial market.
If it were indeed a commercial outfit, I bet it would never sack Mr Clarkson who has created and sustained all these years by far the most successful programme in BBC history. Nothing short of his credible promise to load up a Ferrari with Semtex and blow it up in the middle of the Oxford Street shopping crowd would get Clarkson the boot.
As it was, he was fired for beating up a lowly producer on his programme who was guilty of not having provided a hot meal at the end of the show.
The sacking caused an outburst of protest, featuring a petition signed by millions and even the odd death threat to BBC management. One can understand the protesters: clearly Top Gear has become an important part of their lives.
Regardless of what one may think of the kind of people whose lives just wouldn’t be complete without a particular TV show, most people are like that. And in our democratic times we can’t dismiss the majority out of hand, no matter how strong the temptation.
All this is a preamble to the following sentence: If I were in charge of the BBC, I would have sacked Clarkson too – and probably faster than he was indeed sacked.
Clarkson is nothing but an entertaining jumped-up yob with the gift of the gab. When he projects that persona on his show, more power to him. As I said, better that than the pseud effluvia of some faddish art expert or historian.
But when those same qualities give him the sense of being above the law, he ought to be punished. Clarkson obviously felt that his exalted status of a money-spinning celebrity gave him the right not only to scream obscenities at his underlings but also to attack them physically.
He must have felt stratospherically superior to his victim. Yet if Clarkson were a civilised man, he’d know that at the only level that matters we are all equal – and equally entitled to dignity and respect.
Hitting a man in the face, especially a man half your size physically and infinitely inferior to you institutionally, isn’t just causing physical pain. It’s stamping into the dirt the man’s dignity and humanity. As such, it’s an affront not only to the victim but to us all, the human race.
The victim has generously agreed not to press legal charges, sparing Clarkson an arrest for affray and possibly ABH (actual bodily harm). But any moral judge should find him guilty as charged.
It’s good to take those media celebrities down a peg once in a while, to remind them that, for all their trivial achievements, they are still expected to comply with the rules of civilised behaviour.
Mr Clarkson will now probably take his talents to a commercial station, where cash cows are treated as sacred ones. One hopes he has learned his lesson in self-control, though this isn’t the way to bet.
He is a celebrity, isn’t he? As such he is God in our otherwise godless society.