Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Top Gear in Alabama

I am a fan of the BBC show Top Gear. Mind you, I’m no gear-head, but these guys do some funny things and I like to hear their take on various new car models. Last night I caught an episode that I had not seen before where the three hosts come to the USA, rent cars, and drive to New Orleans. On the way, they pass through Alabama, and well, some not-so-friendly southern hospitality ensues. Video here.

Co-host James May has a few words about it in his blog.

Let’s just say that the take-home message is that in certain areas of the USA one should not attempt humor that “colors outside the lines”. I cannot imagine this reaction where I live in upstate NY (odd looks yes, maybe even a few rude remarks, but that’s about it). The best line is the closer:
“In certain parts of America now, people have begun to mate with vegetables.”

Comments

  1. #1 CRM-114
    November 25, 2007

    I grew up within walking distance of the Mason-Dixon line. I once flew across the South, changing planes in Tampa before moving on to safety. I once drove (at the posted limit) through Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. I saw enough to know I never want to see the South again.

    A friend drove through Alabama where she, a blue-eyed blonde, was considered ‘mixed-race’ because her hair is very curly.

    No thank you, I’ll stick with the Left Coast.

  2. #2 Donalbain
    November 25, 2007

    While very amusing, Top Gear is not exactly the most trustworthy of TV shows. That scene was, I suspect, faked.

  3. #3 Dervin
    November 25, 2007

    Goodness,
    12 rednecks vs. 3 poms, There might be a full set of teeth there.

  4. #4 Monty
    November 26, 2007

    Begun to mate with vegetables? Hell, the way things are now, it seems they’ve been doing it for years.

  5. #5 Mark P
    November 27, 2007

    “We’d been warned by some American modernists – i.e. Californians – that the southerners wouldn’t take kindly to any of our light mockery of the things they hold dear – Bush, heterosexuality, NASCAR, Country and Western, short hair…”

    Let’s assume the blog is truthful at least at some level. If he really had “American modernists” tell him anything about southerners, they apparently knew very little themselves. The last time I checked, the typical southern redneck hair style includes everything but short hair. Maybe the “modernists” were thinking about some location in the LA area, since most people in LA have no idea whatsoever about what goes on in the rest of the country. Except, maybe, NYC. I suspect that the Top Gear crew worldview is similar.

  6. #6 hopper3011
    November 28, 2007

    Jim;
    You should probably check out Clarkson’s views on global warming – I refuse to watch him for the simple reason that I don’t want to feel that I contribute to his income (even though I do simply by having a TV Licence). The show should be taken off air and all of them sacked, IMO.

  7. #7 JimFiore
    November 28, 2007

    Hopper, do you have any pointers?

  8. #8 hopper3011
    November 28, 2007

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1514387,00.html
    http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/01/speeding-is-no-big-deal-says-bbcs.html
    http://icnorthwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/regionalnews/tm_objectid=16380495&method=full&siteid=50142&headline=put-foot-down-on-clarkson-s-global-warming-sneers–name_page.html
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/07/clarkson_in_tro.php

    It is very easy to see the guy as a jokester, using an issue to stir up controversy and drive viewing figures, until you realise that he influences a whole raft of people who don’t have the intelligence to see that he might be saying these things tongue in cheek.

  9. #9 hopper3011
    November 28, 2007

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1514387,00.html
    http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/01/speeding-is-no-big-deal-says-bbcs.html
    http://icnorthwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/regionalnews/tm_objectid=16380495&method=full&siteid=50142&headline=put-foot-down-on-clarkson-s-global-warming-sneers–name_page.html
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/07/clarkson_in_tro.php

    It is very easy to see the guy as a jokester, using an issue to stir up controversy and drive viewing figures, until you realise that he influences a whole raft of people who don’t have the intelligence to see that he might be saying these things tongue in cheek.

  10. #10 hopper3011
    November 29, 2007

    I replied earlier, but the internet seems to have eaten my post. Anyway:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/jun/25/students.highereducation
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/jeremy_clarkson/article1874673.ece
    http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/01/speeding-is-no-big-deal-says-bbcs.html
    It’s easy to see the guy as a jokester using a controversial stance on a delicate subject to drive publicity and ratings, but he influences a whole raft of people who are too ill-equipped in the intelligence department to see his schtick for what it is. Certainly his being broadcast on the BBC doesn’t help – people assume that Auntie Beeb would never allow a presenter to say something that wasn’t true.

  11. #11 hopper3011
    November 29, 2007

    Have tried to reply a couple of times but my response seem to disappear.

  12. #12 JimFiore
    November 29, 2007

    Thanks hopper. FYI, three links is over the limit for the spam-catcher. I pulled the last one out of the dustbin.

    I follow your comments regarding Clarkson. Sort of reminds me of the way some folks try to copy or create crazy stunts just to get on one of those home video shows. Some people are just plain dumb.

  13. #13 Gingerbaker
    November 29, 2007

    It doesn’t matter so much what Clarkson says. He lives in Britain, which is part of Europe despite their best efforts. ;-)

    And over there, the attitude of government and the average Joe is a lot different than here in the U.S.

    In other words, Clarkson can “afford” to be flippant about global warming – he knows no one will take him seriously.

  14. #14 hopper3011
    November 29, 2007

    Gingerbaker;
    Unfortunately Clarkson does badly muddy the water when it comes to the climate issue. The average Joe in England is just as easily led down a wrong path by a likeable (whatever his faults Clarkson does have a good manner, I imagine that, if we moved politics off the table, I would enjoy a beer with him) television presenter who is using an issue to create a following as any average American Joe.
    I’m not against being reactionary, I’m not even against being reactionary just for self amusement; Clarkson has a platform from which he could do a lot of good while still being amusing, but he chooses not to, and that is why I dislike him, his show and his way of doing business.

  15. #15 Gingerbaker
    November 29, 2007

    Well, I just read all three of your links which demonstrate your case that Clarkson is more menacing than the Antichrist with pockets full of plutonium. ;-D

    Sorry – I just don’t see anything more than a guy trying to be amusing. There are so many other truly dangerous and vile spokespersons out there for the Exxon-Mobil cause that spending a nanosecond on Clarkson is almost dereliction of duty.

    Plus, I must say that I found myself on the same side of the fence as Clarkson on more than a couple of issues. Great White sharks in particular! ;D

  16. #16 hopper3011
    November 29, 2007

    Whatever – if you think its a laughing matter you obviously aren’t worth the time it would take to explain the damage someone like Clarkson does.

  17. #17 JimFiore
    November 29, 2007

    Ouch. That might be a tad harsh, hopper. I will admit to ignorance regarding the “man on the street” in the UK these days, but if they are as sheepish and uncritical as many on this side of the pond, perhaps I have overestimated the quality outside of these borders. That would be unfortunate to say the least. I don’t feel so bad when my lifeboat’s sinking if I know that others are getting out alive, but to think their ships’ got dry rot too, well, that’s unhappy all around.

  18. #18 hopper3011
    November 30, 2007

    You are absolutely right Jim, and I apologise unreservedly to Ginger.
    A few months ago there was a discusion on this board on the merits of “militant” atheism, and several people made the point that some of these stunts were counterproductive. One of the most telling points on the “pro” side was that it didn’t matter that these stunts were juvenile, they got headlines which helped others to realise that they weren’t alone in their atheism, and encouraged them to speak out. Unfortunately, this tendency to speak out when you realise that you aren’t a lone voice in the crowd works in other areas too, certainly other people are encouraged by Clarkson’s “humour” to speak out against climate change legislation. The more that politicians believe the vox pop is “anti” such legislation, the less chance they will press for the changes to bring about meaningful reductions in carbon output (politicians need to get elected, even in England). So that is why I get frustrated when people say “Oh, Clarkson’s harmless, he’s just trying to be funny.”. He may very well be trying to be funny, but the effects of his “humour” are far reaching and definitely not funny!

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