I really likeTopGear, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (and the other good-looking one from The Monkeys). I watch it on rainy sunday afternoons, or with beer and dogs while Her WithinDoors is away and I have the man house to my rule-breaking self.
The three (plus The Stig) have a chemistry and a lad-ishness that gives me hope as a 50-something white flabby male. It’s either that, or take up Himalaya trekking and swimming. I’m not a petrol head, but once had a Jag (well, actually a Daimler Series ii , but everyone thinks it was an XJ6 and it’s made by Jag) and a 1939 Austin Minx (which I reminded everyone was born while Hitler was driving into Poland).
It was about the characters and the writing; May’s dry wit and Clarkson’s gorgeous turns of phrase. The three irresponsible petrol gurus take no prisoners, they are not beHOLDEN to corporate auto conglomerates who pay mega amounts to have their cars castigated and belittled. They are also passionate about driving, cars and on road awesomeness.
They’ve drawn millions like me, into a stupid car geek programme and made it thrilling, funny, entertaining, and made The Beeb millions (TopGear is their star programme). 12 seasons.
And so this debacle with Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest moai on this Easter Island, was like a very British spinster stoush unfolding on Coronation Street. Auntie Beeb and that tart Mrs Clarkson going at each other with handbags and hair nets. The Mirror reported Clarkson had made an “expletive-laden rant at a charity event” against BBC exec.s earlier in the week, later qualified as “meant in jest.”
But May was right, it was initially a fairly small private meltdown that became way bigger than it should have which was a “tragedy.” See here.
James May has done a series of on camera reactions from the front door of his modest Council-style flat (ya gotta love those Brit celebrities and their humble ‘ostentation’).
So initially I played this as a case of Political Correctness gone mad. Yes, there was the off camera ‘N’ bomb (which you can hear endlessly by any Black comedian and Rap artist over and over again, including in films) and the “slope” comment, which was obliquely racist but a really funny pun in the context of the sloping bridge. (Let’s be honest, EVERYONE does that behind closed doors; all human groups nick-name other groups).
But the Beeb – as May said on the clip – probably had their hands tied. It was not really about blokey Blokiness standing up to oppressive Stalinesque modernism that is hand wringing political correctness. No, it seems Jeremy is suffering from MANopause and went too far. As May says, “He’s a Nob.” The Sydney Morning Herald said he was a victim of his own behaviour. Brilliance and hubris; like that myth that all artists are manic depressives, their genius stalked by a converse.
But you have to give The BBC credit, they’ve handled this pretty well. Sure, it got away from them, but like a honed working-class British greyhound, they hauled in that runaway fluffy bunny and mouthed it several times. Tony Hall conducted a thorough investigation, and spoke to both parties about the incident. It was reported Clarkson had turned up at the producer’s house to make an apology, but was cold-shouldered.
Seems to me Clarkson was a bullying oaf; a 20 minute tirade of abuse against an innocent victim based on perceived elevated celebrity status and not getting special treatment (prima donna stuff) and then some sort of ‘handbagging’ incident. Various reports about a punch or not. Probably just some middle-aged man shuffling.
Reading Halls’ explanation (in full here below) you have to accept The Beebs position and actions. Clarkson is brilliant, loved by millions for his irreverence (note his Twitter count) and Britishcock a snoop, but was a bully and lost control. Tony Hall initially stepped in to delay an immediate sacking. Pproducer Oisin Tymon (opposite) was attacked and endured a sustained superiority tirade, in a work context. Unacceptable. Bullying is bullying, and no one should have to endure that, especially at work.
“First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.
“Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.
“Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.
“The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw [Controller of BBC Two] to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”
Right result. Oisin Tymon will stay on, Clarkson has gone for unacceptable behaviour after a final written warning.
What next? Well, channels will be falling over one another to hire Clarkson for mega gazillions. Netflix is already a rumoured suitor. A successful rival may buy-up James May, Richard Hammond lock stock and barrel and parallel a similar show, or something new. The fans will slide and wheel burn over, and it will make the new company tonnes of money. But they’ll have to pay high, as Hammond and May also have other BBC shows they are involved with.
And I suspect Hammond and May without Clarkson will not work, like The Two Ronnieswithout sexual innuendo. But I hope they all work together to complete a successful 2015 series, perhaps with a funny focus on Clarkson’s departure. That would have class.
I like Clarkson, we need brigands like him, irreverent, Churchillian bulwarks against namby pamby, metrosexual hand-creamy politically correct 1984-ness. They give us hope. Clarkson is a kind of Beowulf epic hero, clad in furs with a dripping metaphoric battle axe of wit, double entendres and scathing put-downs.
So, Clarkson has been bumped on a pedestrian crossing and rushed to ER, where he’ll revive, arise as an anti-Beeb phoenix albeit somewhat shattered on a fast ferrari windscreen, and get paid even more. And as admirer Tony Hall director general of the BBC admits, “continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.” Like a revered but slightly naughty vintage classic that leaves too much oil on your driveway.
This was a very British debacle. The issues were all traversed through the tabloids, no one got too hand-wringy, the issues got put, there was perspective, and values, and a hard call (worth several gazillion to the BBC) taken in the interests of fairness, equal treatment. We got an actual outcome (Clarkson got sacked) , the victim was reassured and cemented in his employment (as the innocent in all this, he was). Clarkson was cut adrift with respect and acknowledgement today to slew new speedways, but without covering up or failing to acknowledge his offending Nob-ishness.
We await the next lap with petrol-heady expectation.
The obvious dislike between Obama and Netanyahu must be music to the ears of Israel’s enemies in the Middle East. This is something I find very troubling as Israel and USA need to stand together now more than ever. In my opinion ISIS and friends are winning the war on terror. It pains me to admit it, but ISIS and friends are more organised than America and its allies. It is certainly reminiscent of the 1930’s when fascism was growing.
Also why is Obama so bent on agreeing to a deal with Iran? It seems like a very risky strategy to me.
Now I’m not a Clinton hater and think that Bill Clinton despite his obvious faults was a better POTUS than G W Bush and Barack Obama. But that said the Clinton’s would have to be the equal of Richard Nixon when it comes to playing dirty, tricky, sneaky political games to keep ahead. If a GOP Secretary of State did what Hillary has done and set up their own email server they would have been crucified by the US media.
As for Hillary as a presidential candidate, she looks more and more like in political terms she’s over the hill. If I was a Democrat I’d be concerned.
Artist Signal has a contest for a band to win $10,000. The lead keeps swapping between two bands – Remedy Drive from Nashville and Into The East from Invercargill. Locals tell me they are very talented, crazy and funny.
If you want to help a Kiwi band win, follow the link and take ten seconds to vote.
I’ve been rather tied up by ‘real life’ to read any of the goings on here at Kiwiblog over the last week let alone post but here are couple of cartoons that tickled my funny bone.
The first relates to the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf saying that one issue with the ISIS terrorists is that they’re unemployed. They do have a job, it is killing anyone who doesn’t agree with their fanatical ideology.
The second cartoon is about Vice President Joe Biden getting over friendly with the new US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter’s wife at an event in Washington DC last week. Whatever his motivations this did have a bad look.
The other cartoon by Andy Marlette makes fun of Jeb Bush’s strategy of seemingly trying to win the GOP presidential nomination by hoovering up the big $’s early on from the key GOP donors. He hasn’t as yet convinced me that his policy ideas are winners. He is a winner in the piling up the campaign funds contest though.
The event reminds me of something that happened to me in my first year at Parliament in 1996. I had the unfortunate (or fortunate) experience of being involved in something similar – without the social media fallout.
I wasn’t the bar patron that night. I was one of two people in the fishbowl.
It was after a National Party “caucus event” (code for a boozy night). In those days these shindigs went into the wee small hours and most people got well and truly liquored.
As I recall I left the party with a (girl) friend and ended up rolling around on the floor of a junior Cabinet minister’s office in Bowen House, next to Parliament.
It was late, the lights were on but it was dark outside. I couldn’t see out – so I had a false sense of security.
As we left the office we went past the patient cleaners in the corridor who were waiting and I jumped into the lift and went home. When I arrived at work the next day my boss Linda Clark pulled me aside and laughed in my face.
“Garner,” she cried, “I know everything.”
How could she possibly know what I had got up to last night? There was no social media then, our cellphones didn’t send photos and the internet barely worked.
But she’d got a phone call from Parliament’s chief pigeon – Kiwiblog’s David Farrar.
He knew everyone and news had travelled fast. He couldn’t wait to tell my boss.
Heh, Duncan’s story is correct, except for one detail.
I didn’t call Linda. I called Duncan to give him a friendly hassle and Linda answered his phone. I said I’d call back when he was in. Linda asked if she could help. Her assumption was that I might have some political news for them for a possible story.
I replied to Linda that I was just calling to hassle Duncan, and Linda put 2+2 together in a millisecond and exclaimed “Farrar, what is her name?”. I laughed and declined to confirm or deny but then Linda did several minutes of her famous interrogation style and eventually I folded, she got the details out of me, and yes poor Duncan arrived at work to have Linda loudly proclaiming knowledge of what had happened.
So guilty to telling Linda, but only because she answered Duncan’s phone as he wasn’t in yet!’
A giant slip n slide event which drew 3000 people to Sumner yesterday descended into chaos as unhappy customers spent up to two and a half hours queuing to get a turn.
Concerns about safety were also raised and a 54-year-old man was taken to Christchurch Hospital by the Westpac rescue helicopter with suspected spinal injuries after being knocked over by another slider at the bottom of the 250-metre slide.
The Christchurch Monster Slide event was the first of a series being held around New Zealand, with another one scheduled for Nelson today.
Ticket prices varied from $15 for three slides up to $99 for 10 slides and special lane access.
Waiting two and a half hours for a go is not anyone’s idea of fun. It should not be difficult for them to work out the maximum number of tickets to sell, to ensure that queues are manageable.
Also the ticket prices are misleading. I purchased tickets for the Wellington event and on top of the advertised fee, you also have to pay a booking fee, compulsory insurance and a credit card fee. That increases the price by a staggering 50% or so.
Half of the Christchurch event’s 40 volunteer slide marshalls had not turned up which Templeton said had put a lot of pressure on the existing staff.
He was considering employing marshall volunteers for future events.
You’re raking in money from selling tickets/ Damn right you should hire staff rather than depend on volunteers.
Many people took photos and posted them on social media, which have attracted hundreds of likes and comments. The band playing at the Carlton stopped playing and let everyone in the bar watch, some posters said online.
“There were about 150 people watching at one point. It was awesome,” one poster said.
The band couldn’t compete with this entertainment.
Marsh Ltd chief executive Grant Milne found out about the incident this morning after the images surfaced on social media.
He confirmed that the two people were Marsh employees.
I hope they don’t lose their jobs, as the embarrassment will be punishment enough. They will have to live with:
Constant jokes from their colleagues
The knowledge 150 people watched them at it
Near inevitable publication of their names
UPDATE: I hear the gentleman involved in married with kids. If this is correct, then much less funny, and very sad for the family. All the more amazing they didn’t turn the lights off!
Most of the cartoons from the US have been about the New England Patriots and the “deflate-gate scandal” or Obama’s state of the union (SOTU) speech. This weeks cartoon is about the latter.
The illusion to the President as Robin Hood refers to his idea of taxing the rich to give to the middle class. It was amusing to observe John Boehner sitting through most of the speech with look of a man who thought he was being fed rotten fish and was trying to hide the fact.
Sadly the SOTU has become a spectacle that is nothing more than a campaign stop for the White House incumbent. It has been like this for a number of years. The Economist has an op-ed on the SOTU and reminds readers that in an earlier time for example under Nixon the speech was an effective way for the President to attempt to advance policy goals and start an intelligent policy debate on issues of the day.
For a bit of context, it is useful to revisit the reception of old state of the union addresses. I’ve been watching and reading a few by Richard Nixon who, as a Republican president from 1969 to 1974, faced some similar hurdles: an endless and dispiriting war; a mysterious and haunting foreign foe; a sluggish economy; a Congress dominated by the opposing party. Interestingly, Nixon’s speeches promoted some similar priorities.
The result was progress.
But in fact many of his ideas became policy, even with Democrats controlling the House and Senate. The new Congress that had just been sworn in that January 1971 could have found it useful to make Nixon look like a failure, with a presidential election ostensibly lurking around the corner (though two years back then were far longer in politics than they are now). But in fact they passed a lot of landmark legislation that continues to benefit Americans today.
The article ends with these words.
One can’t help but feel wistful for an era when a president’s ideas might’ve been debated on their merits, and when lawmakers took their job of making law seriously. It has become hard to remember a time when truculence wasn’t the surest route to political power, and when policies weren’t simply dismissed as “partisan” before being thrown away.
I don’t expect the current divisive mind-set in Washington DC to change anytime soon.