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  • Jeremy Clarkson was a by-product of the system which made him

    2019 - 01.21

    Clarkson’s contract will no be renewed: BBCClarkson’s road to ruinClarkson’s worth to Top GearClarkson hints at sackingClarkson’s costly steak
    Nanjing Night Net

    Three larrikin blokes, standing in the backyard, talking about cars. Few television premises seem so universally relatable, and consequently few television programs have been as successful as Top Gear.

    But for much of Top Gear’s life, one larrikin bloke stood taller and louder than the other two: Jeremy Clarkson, the 54-year-old star of the show, who has finally fallen victim to his own misbehaviour and been stood down.

    Depending on who you listen to, he will be cast now as either a racist and homophobe who deserved to lose his job after a decade of embarrassing gaffes, or a white, male victim of political correctness gone mad.

    In truth he is neither. In the final accounting, he is simply a fool whose inability to keep his language, and ultimately his behaviour, in check cost him his job. It happens every day. In all industries, not just TV.

    As television programs go, Top Gear is almost flawless, with Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May translating the dialect of motor vehicle mechanics into a sort of television Esperanto.

    As a high-profile celebrity, however, Clarkson has fallen well short of the mark.

    There is no need to repeat his list of sins here, they have been reported ad nauseum. If you don’t know them, Google will easily fill in the gaps.

    But a quick summary of them would be this: unless you’re white, male and straight, then Clarkson has a tendency to be a bit free with his words when it comes to ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

    In person, he’s a charming man. And he doesn’t speak with malice. But few people enjoy being the butt of a joke, particularly crass ones.

    And as with many such “scandals” it is not Top Gear’s core constituency who are overly upset, but rather the community at large, and the media, through whose prism the community is so often left to interpret events.

    Like many a TV host who has gone down before him, very little seemed to be asked of Clarkson. And curtailing one’s tendency to oafish language isn’t a big trade off for a salary counted in the many, many millions.

    Which brings us to the inevitable truth: Clarkson is a by-product of the system which made him.

    The television industry, like much of the broader “showbiz” world, has always struggled to manage the egos of those placed on pedestals within it.

    Appalling behaviour is never genuinely discouraged because ordinary mortals in positions of power are surrounded by enablers, cowed into silence by a collective fear of losing their own importance-by-proxy.

    It doesn’t excuse him. Nor does it shift the blame. There can be no question, Clarkson alone stands as the architect of his own downfall.

    But in the broader context, he is a cog in a powerful commercial machine.

    The more larrikin his antics, it seemed, the more successful he became. The more outlandish the stunts and spectacles, the more successful Top Gear became.

    As it stands now, Top Gear is not just one of the BBC’s most successful programs, it is one of the most lucrative for the broadcaster’s content sales arm, BBC Worldwide.

    They sell the program itself, the format (which allows local versions to be made), licences for official merchandise including DVDs and even stage live events around the world tied to the Top Gear brand.

    All have poured gold into the BBC’s pots.

    In that sense, the BBC has been betting on Clarkson’s good behaviour for a long time, too afraid to sack him lest they destroy their golden goose, hoping perhaps that if he could be pulled into line internally, the chorus of disapproval might dissipate.

    And in the end, like many such bets, it proved a dud.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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