Oh, Top Gear did a thing.
Look, it doesn’t take an exceptional degree of intelligence to work out that Top Gear is not intended to be taken seriously. Equally, it doesn’t take an exceptional degree of cynicism to work out that it is a small but real part of a landscape around which people construct their views.
I’m at best ambivalent about Top Gear: yes, it’s jumped countless sharks; yes, it’s more It Ain’t Half Hot Mum than Brasseye in terms of acerbic wit; but at the end of the day it’s mostly just affably undemanding entertainment with some generally unremarkable humour in it.
Point out its flaws by all means, but if you’re actually going to get properly outraged by Top Gear then I’d suggest reprioritising where your blood pressure gets spent.
I do have just one question, though.
Obviously, a crumpled bike on the ground with a pithy jibe printed on top of it is a bit of a giggle.
That image we see in the news dozens of times a year, where you know the person who was on that bike moments beforehand is now dead? Yeah, that’ll make a good basis for a little Sunday night gag based on a lazy stereotype.
Does it work if we transpose it onto Top Gear’s territory?
Earlier this year, two McLaren staff died in a collision near the McLaren base in Woking involving a Transit van (the driver of which sustained serious injuries) and the Impreza in which they were travelling.
That image we see in the news dozens of times a year, where you know the person who was in that car moments beforehand is now dead? Yeah, that’ll make a good basis for a little Sunday night gag based on a lazy stereotype.
Would Top Gear show that?
Would they have the balls to rock up to Woking the following day to borrow a P1 for the Stig to play with?
Would they expect the staff there to have a bit of a chuckle about it?
Maybe they would. Maybe everyone is fine with that.
You be the judge: I’m not your conscience.
In case it’s not clear from the above, I am making no comment on the tragic collision in Woking. I have seen no information to indicate whether the driver who died was at fault, nor would I feel that a cheap joke would be justified even if they were. If you’re uncomfortable with the above image implying that Impreza drivers are twats that we can laugh at when they die, then you get my point.