It finally happened. Proof that you can indeed go "too far". And while I am sad, I think the BBC made the correct decision. In fact, it was something they could've done years ago. And I want to point out how both the TG crew and us, the viewers, contributed to this being the correct decision. Let's start with the crew first.
It is no secret that Jeremy is not the only person who works on the show or assists with writing and editing. In fact, the producer Jeremy assaulted has been working on the show since at least season 7 according to the credits of an episode in that season. So the crew knows that Jeremy can be a bit toxic to others and yet despite hoards of potential voices and eyes to see something and say something, year after year they get in hot water over something. But I don't think they're entirely innocent. I think either the crew as a whole haven't learned anything, or Jeremy has final say and HE hasn't learned anything. "Learned anything from what?" I hear you asking. Well astute followers of TG might remember their visit to America.......Their FIRST visit to America.
I can't find the interview, but both the presenters and the production staff were interviewed about the season 9 special a few years ago. All of them said something along the lines of "We were acting like children seeing how much we could get away with and getting attention by being naughty. But the US special was that moment where we realized there were consequences to our actions." And if memory serves, the next few seasons went relatively drama free from the media and press. Oh sure you got the odd complaint here and there like most TV shows (morris marina owner's club anyone?) but they weren't nearly on the same level as what has happened in the past few years.
And that's where I think the crew are partly to blame for creating this monster that inevitably had to be put down. They never stopped. They forgot that lesson. They went back to purposely trying to piss people off and it worked. They KNOW those sorts of comments and remarks are going to rub people the wrong way. They had to know. I refuse to believe that one show attracting all that negative press is entirely innocent. And they also had to know that after they got in a bit of a metaphorical "dust-up" with other sources for things they honestly did not mean to offend people with, that their actions had brought all the naysayers out of the woodwork. The floodgates opened and it became easy for the snowball to keep rolling.....And they still didn't stop.
I don't think for a second that Jeremy meant to attack someone. I agree that he is probably stressed out and on edge. But I think he put himself into this position by constantly pushing the limits on his better days. He finally ran out of friends and this mistake is one he can't get scrubbed away. It will probably haunt him for the rest of his career and he needs it. He needs to be reminded that there is a line and that he crossed it several steps ago.
But for all the fault that the crew bear, us as viewers need to keep in mind that we shoulder some of this as well. If we want to keep from it happening again, we need to recognize what to avoid in the future.
First of all, we held up Jeremy as a motoring God. He really wasn't. And neither was Top Gear the gold standard of what cars were. It presented itself as factual, but in reality it was pure entertainment. They would say and do whatever was funny at the moment. And that is an excellent thing. It means they can take any material and make it enjoyable. As someone said on another article - they could've made a show on sewing machines called "Top Stitch" and it would've been hilarious. But at the same time we need to remember that they are not the sole authority on things. I've pointed out before how their opinions change regularly and their comparisons and challenges are often staged. Not that this makes them less fun, just that you need to take it with a grain of salt. The MkV GTI went from being "Fat and underpowered" before the review to "A revelation" during the review, back to being "dreary and weak" in newer seasons. That is just a single example. But we love them anyways because they do it so well! I just wish people had stopped elevating the hosts as automotive pariahs above rebuttal or criticism. Maybe if we had said "no, that was actually offensive" on occasion, they would've listened. I see now people are now running around with the "The idiot finally got fired! Yes!" comments when just a year ago on this same website you can see hordes of people rallying around the "JC did nothing wrong!" bandwagon.
And while TG:UK has been imploding form within these past few years, we shunned TG:USA for being "not TG:UK" when they were, they just made way more episodes in a shorter amount of time and were still trying to figure things out. But no, the enthusiasts have spoken - We will ONLY accept JC and the gang! What a great way to make sure we never get anyone even *trying* to make a new show for enthusiasts! Part of my frustration comes from me being part of that elitist group for a while. That there would never possibly be anything else that would be as entertaining as Top Gear. But I've also been one of TG:USA's few defenders on here. I really wanted people to go into it and let it be the wonderous little car adventure show it was. I fully expect people to act the same if the BBC attempt to do a replacement for TG. Whether with a new host(s) or a different format entirely. I want to at least give it a fair shot. I *NEED* to give it a fair shot. To show the world that yes, I too enjoy media and entertainment relating to my passion. Not just some show that is perceived by some as an hour long rant from a grumpy old man.
And we maybe need to be more level headed about these issues in the future than driving a tank to deliver a petition with a million signatures to have a man reinstated at his job after assaulting a coworker. Yes, I put it that way for a reason. Be honest - if you were at your job, got attacked by someone physically, and they got sacked, would you appreciate them getting their job back just because a lot of people who don't work with you said they liked that guy and want him to have his job back? I didn't think so. And honestly I found the use of the tank to be like the people marching up city hall with assault rifles going "BRUNG DOWN OBUMMERCURRRRRR" - You're only reinforcing negative perception and stereotypes of yourself, even if you have a valid point. In an ideal world, yes you would be judged solely by your actions and not your appearance but this isn't a perfect world.
Our culture is constantly under attack and pressure by people who don't want to bother trying to understand us. Clarkson has had quite a few moments where he reinforced their negative stereotypes of us. It's time we faced facts - we need more people than just Clarkson. We need more shows than just the original Top Gear. And if we continue to hold someone like Clarkson up to different standards than the rest of the world, then we should not be surprised when we help create another controversial figure to represent "us".