Sunday, 6 February 2011

Day 133

Two of the best headlines I’ve seen on the BBC News website in the last week:

But obviously the story that everyone’s talking about is the Prime Minister’s straight-faced soggy assertion.

I find it frightening to the point at which I’m genuinely convinced I must have misunderstood something. From what I can see, our polemic government is on a quest to undo the Cyclone Yasi-esque damage done by political correctness in the ‘80s. Undo decades of growth in British tolerance in order to weed out a small number of very particular dangerous individuals. Dangerous individuals who can’t be stopped by a “stronger sense of National identity” – extremists who hate Britain so much that they want to hurt it are not going to be stopped by scrutiny of Muslim organisations or tighter immigration laws or more public money spent on accidental arrests of innocent people or white-faced tight-lipped politicians going “gosh, isn’t it awfully nice here in Britain, we have such a hearty selection of teas”, or whatever it is Cameron means by a stronger sense of National identity.

I really have misunderstood something along the way. But for the first time in my life I have a very diverse group of friends of various religions and nationalities, and it seems lots of people are misunderstanding. In fact, everyone’s misunderstanding. What exactly are we supposed to understand.

On the subject of National identity, though, there’s another story that caught my eye this week about the only British TV show I watch weekly -

I don’t know why Jeremy Clarkson’s stringy red face is on there. What he did during said xenophobia was look worried and surprised. Who’d have thought it? Clarkson’s comments on Top Gear make headline news all the time, and usually they shouldn’t, because it’ll be a joke about current affairs, there to make the show look current. But Richard Hammond’s “joke” on Mexico that sparked off complaints was along different lines. There’s no use quoting what he said, because you can’t see his lip curl in a quote.

The Mexican Ambassador complained on behalf of the Mexican people in Top Gear's substantial worldwide audience. But shouldn't Top Gear itself be taking care of its viewers; or at the very least, shouldn't the BBC? I thought that was what the BBC did? Cover all angles, to the point of being criticised for their strict guidelines. For some reason, they held back the scissors for this one and thought Hammond’s comments appropriate for... multicultural viewing. The BBC defended him and said he didn’t mean it maliciously. Of course he didn’t, it was just a joke.

But actually, I think he DID mean it maliciously. He looked angry at the Mexicans. He looked disgusted, in same way as he does when he's talking about male homosexuality or the implication thereof. Either he’s had some hateful experience with a Mexican person or he came up with the joke previously and was so proud of it that he couldn't wait to get it out in the open.

In which case, good for him. A passionate comedian. Needs to get his jokes out there. I wonder if he puts "Comedian" as his profession? This is the kind of stuff that Frankie Boyle gets death threats for, and Frankie Boyle IS a comedian.

I’m “misunderstanding” lots of things today.

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