I'm no Briton, so I can't attest to the current climate that is taking shape there in the way of the public service strikes, but I definitely enjoy everything British -- the culture, the humor, the ridiculous way they insist upon drinking tea all the time. There is something about the idea of being British, specifically English, that speaks to me. I don't know why, but the pithy and, often times, snarkily sarcastic way that they speak and act is both hilarious and beautiful to me.
As such, I watch a lot of British programmes and series -- made all the easier by the expansion of the BBC to include an American affilate channel. While BBC-A doesn't show the every day programming that is native to its mother country, since that would be irrelevant to Americans, there are a lot of good programmes that I enjoy on a regular basis. Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, Doctor Who, and Top Gear all top my list of personal favorites. There are others of course (Luther, White Chapel, The Tudors), but they don't rank as must-see in my opinion even though they are enjoyable.
So, recently, as some people may or may not be aware, a situation has developed concerning the current strikes and a rather flippant moment of television involving a BBC presenter and his comments on the situation. And while I can understand the ire directed at the presenter, it seems to me that the demands for his job are a bit premature and somewhat ludicrous due to who it was that made the comments. Not to mention the subtext to this whole situation is, to me, a commentary on how this modern political correctness ideology seeks to make people less themselves and more autonomous; effectively it's personality facism.
Anyway...Jeremy Clarkson, a presenter for the BBC's Top Gear, made an appearance on The One Show and offered the following while discussing the on-going workforce strikes:
"I think they have been fantastic. Absolutely. London today has just been empty. Everybody stayed at home, you can whizz about, restaurants are empty... Airports, people streaming through them with no problems at all. And it's also like being back in the '70s. It makes me feel at home somehow. But we have to balance this, though, because this is the BBC. Frankly I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living."
Okay, admittedly, when you see it in print it sounds pretty harsh. However, you cannot truly believe, even if you are dumb as a hammer, that anyone would publicly call for actions that are, in essence, genocide and be serious about it. And while I can see the point of those who were offended by the statement, the reason they are so upset, it seems, is because the only portion of the clip being shown starts mid-thought (Frankly I'd have them all shot...) and this turns Clarkson into an instant demon thanks to the media. Of course, some people will have watched the show itself, seen the full commentary, and still been offended. These people are idiots, and I'll tell you why.
Jeremy Clarkson is nothing short of a brash, outspoken, and brilliant presenter. As to Jeremy Clarkson as a person, I cannot attest but would imagine that privately he is largely the same as his TV persona. And that's just the point. Jeremy Clarkson the presenter, the TV personality, the affable facade, is who made those comments. Jeremy Clarkson the private citizen was tucked somewhere behind that jowly, withering ham hock of a face while TV Clarkson did what he is paid to do by way of being offensive, yet brilliantly spot on in his ribbing of not only the strike situation, but the BBC as a try-hard non-partisan entity.
Having watched Mr. Clarkson for quite some time now, I understand what his TV personality is, how he acts and reacts to certain situations. Some people do not, and that is evident because of the copious complaints the BBC has received over this whole thing. Did he say the words he said? Yes. Did he mean them to be offensive? Probably. Did he say them with absolute conviction, devoid of any detectable sarcasm? No, but sarcasm is hard to read or even see sometimes.
Personally, I don't think he should have had to apologize for what he said at all. It was an intelligent joke that was told so convincingly that those who did get offended have only made it known that they are are intellectually the same as a doorknob. There are no boundaries in comedy, everything is fair game. And Jeremy Clarkson is a smart enough man to understand that and use it to his advantage.