If you’re British and you live in the USA, people will ask you if you like Top Gear. I’d like to tell them that Jeremy Clackson & the other blokes are a bunch of upper class wankers but I don’t think that’ll translate to the US. Responding to the Top Gear bloke’s comments about Mexicans, Steve Coogan has luckily written a much better answer that I ever could:
Comedy can’t always be safe, and sometimes entertainers need to challenge social orthodoxies. But ‘saying the unsayable’ is different from simply recycling offensive cliches about Mexicans (more, here)
… If I say anything remotely racist or sexist as Alan Partridge, for example, the joke is abundantly clear. We are laughing at a lack of judgment and ignorance. With Top Gear it is three rich, middle-aged men laughing at poor Mexicans. Brave, groundbreaking stuff, eh?
There is a strong ethical dimension to the best comedy. Not only does it avoid reinforcing prejudices, it actively challenges them. Put simply, in comedy, as in life, we ought to think before we speak. This wasn’t one of those occasions. In fact, the comments were about as funny as a cold sweat followed by shooting pains down the left arm. In fact, if I can borrow from the Wildean wit of Richard Hammond, the comic approach was “lazy”, “feckless” and “flatulent”….
Here’s what those Top Gear blokes said during a discussion about a Mexican-built sports car:
Hammond (left): …Cars reflect national characteristics, don’t they, so German cars are very well built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, a Mexican car’s just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight… (laughter) leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat.
May: It is interesting, isn’t it, because they can’t do food, the Mexicans, can they? Because it’s all like sick with cheese on it, I mean… (laughter)
Hammond: Refried sick!
May: Yeah, refried sick.
Hammond: I’m sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you’re Mexican: ‘awww, no’. (laughter)
Clarkson: No, it’d be brilliant… because you could just go straight back to sleep again. (Again, from the Guardian)