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Top Gear, the UK’s favorite show when it comes to insulting Mexicans, is currently facing criticism for its recent December episode from India. While the Indian government called for the BBC to take action on the show, the show’s producers insist that the episode was not offensive at all.

As reported by The Times of India:

“The Top Gear road trip across India was filled with incidents but none of them were an insult to the Indian people or the culture of the country. Our film showed the charm, the beauty, the wealth, the poverty and the idiosyncrasies of India but there’s a vast difference between showing a country, warts and all, and insulting it,” Top Gear said in a statement yesterday.

“It’s simply not the case that we displayed a hostile or superior attitude to our hosts and that’s very clear from the way the presenters can be seen to interact with them along the way. We genuinely loved our time in India and if there were any jokes to be had they were, as ever, reflected back on the presenters rather than the Indian people,” it added.

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Ahh, Jeremy Clarkson. Last year, you offended Mexicans. This year, you go after the largest English-speaking country and one of the most Internet savvy communities in the world: India.

Credit © BBC

Last month, Clarkson and his “Top Gear” band of idiots filmed their wildly popular show in India. And Jeremy was in rare form as The Guardian reports:

During the 90-minute special, which was aired twice over the Christmas break, Clarkson made a string of jokes about the Indian food, clothes, toilets, trains and even the country’s history.

Incidents during the show included Clarkson driving a Jaguar around an Indian slum with a toilet fitted in the boot, and stripping off his trousers in public in front of two Indian dignitaries to show them how to use a trouser press. He joked that he used it to make naan bread.

Now the Indian High Commission has formally lodged a complaint to the BBC. Oops. The Guardian story continues:

“We have received a letter [of complaint] from the Indian high commission,” said a spokeswoman for Top Gear. “We will be responding directly to them in due course”.

The spokeswoman would not elaborate on the exact nature of the complaints, although a report in the Telegraph says that the high commission letter accuses the show of being “tasteless” and breaking a filming deal.

“The programme was replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity that we expect from the BBC,” the high commission said in its letter, according to the Telegraph. “I write this to convey our deep disappointment over the documentary for its content and the tone of the presentation. You are clearly in breach of the agreement that you had entered into, completely negating our constructive and proactive facilitation.”

According the the Guardian, the UK’s most racists ambassadors—Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May—pulled their tasteless and lazy humor pranks throughout India. Here is just a snippet:

One stunt involved putting banners with seemingly innocuous slogans – such as Eat English Muffins – on the side of trains. However, the banners were strategically placed so that when the trains carriages split a new, offensive, phrase emerged: “Eat English Muff.”

The train banner stunt included one slogan that said “British IT For Your Company” that transformed into the word “Shit For Your Company”.

The BBC initially received 23 complaints about the show, which attracted five million viewers when it first aired on 28 December, although the spokeswoman said on Thursday that this number has now risen to 188.

Once again, “Top Gear” is playing to the lowest common denominator of bad and racist British humor. There is wit and then there is “Top Gear.” The fact that it is still popular only confirms that Clarkson knows his audience: better to offend with bad and lazy jokes than to try and be a bit more witty and intelligent. Controversy is a part of comedy, but only when it is good. Give us Monty Python any time.

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2011 was a momentous year for this blog. The biggest accomplishment was that it surprassed 100,000 unique visits and the total stats will reach over 130,000. Here are the 2011 top 10 posts of JRV.com:

10. TOP GEAR Host James May Reportedly Goes Nutty on a Plane: 1,183 reads

9. Latest El Nuevo Día Poll in Puerto Rico Concludes that Luis Fortuño Administration is a Disaster: 1,309 reads

8. TOP GEAR Now Offends Albania: 1,658 reads

7.  BREAKING NEWS: Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño Resigns, To Join FOX NEWS (APRIL FOOLS!!!): 1,702 reads

6. The 1917 Jones Act: Puerto Ricans as U.S. Citizens: 1,732 reads

5.  INTERNET HOAX ALERT: Senator John McCain Comments Questioning the US Citizenship of NBA Star JJ Barea: 1,877 reads

4. Top Gear” Video the BBC Doesn’t Want You to See: 2.658 reads

3. Fernando Varela Performs a Bilingual Version of Coldplay’s YELLOW Live in Concert: 3,377 reads

2. TOP GEAR Host Jeremy Clarkson Statement on Mexican Controversy: 4,110 reads

1. Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State: 4,169 views

To all of our readers, followers, critics, and commenters (BRUCE!!!), thank you!!!!! WISHING YOU ALL AN AMAZING 2012!!!

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After writing about the Tom Brady Naked Baby Picture Controversy today, it all made sense to me. Boston Barstool Sports, even though they crossed the line, got a lot of media attention the last few days. Maybe that was what BBS wanted, and even though i think they handled it poorly (really, getting banned from WEEI?), it is clear when it comes to blogging and webpages: in the online world, people devour controversy.

Personally, a lot of my fellow bloggers like to avoid controversy, and if you think about it, it makes sense. I think it is cool. Because once you start taking stands on things and writing strong opinions about passionate topics (you can never go wrong with politics, sports, and religion), you might notice that those visitors who weren’t coming to your site, are now visiting it more and more.

When you start posting that kind of content, reader comments do come. Now, MOST of the people on the Internet who comment on blogs, Facebook, Twitter (and now Google+) GET IT. Even if you disagree with someone, you can still be respectful and civil. Ever since I started this blog in 2009, we learned that pretty quickly. You earn people’s respect by following those golden rules.

However, as Peter Parker’s uncle (btw, will new Afro-Latino Spiderman Miles Morales have a Tío?) once said, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Ok, that is for superheroes and comic books, but I will say this: “with good content, comes great responsibility, and when you feel attacked, insulted, lied about, slandered, called bad names, or are just the recipient of general negativity, RESPOND and RESPOND QUICKLY.” And if you start getting trolls (those amazing bullies who hide behind computer screen and spew anger at the world, but if you ever saw them in person, they would never say those same things to your face), you deal with it just like Mom used to say about dealing with bullies: you call them out and you expose them.

Here at JRV.com, the bullies are alive and well. This week, we were proud to receive this lovely nugget:

Do your free ride is over….We don’t want to pay for you anymore.

Oh there are some of your people who are in my state because they
told me they suck all the benefits from two or three other states dry
and when me state go’s broken they will more on like the rats they are ….Sorry it’s not my fault you were born in that shit hole called
mexico.

Instead of blocking this person (not cool) or deleting this comment (this an open forum), I responded, like I always do. This is what I said:

Ok, last time I checked, I am an American citizen. Sorry you have me for life. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!! WOOT!!!!

In most of my dealings with the Bully Trolls of the Web, that is what I have done. When people starting ripping Alisa Valdes for her brilliant use of social media earlier this year, I answered the trolls. When we posted the TOP GEAR VIDEO that the BBC didn’t want you to see, I went right after them too. When the pro-Fortuño Puerto Ricans call me a “fake Puerto Rican,” you will get an answer from me.  By the way, the Fortuñistas are alive and well on this blog ever since a new poll on the island said that the Governor is doing an awful job in running Puerto Rico.

And when people spread lies about your relationships to other Latino pages and other social media people, you make sure you make your case. Now mind you, I normally talk to people face to face, but when the attacks are so bad and so personal, I won’t. Simple as that. I find that writing is my defense shield.

This past week, I have been the recipient of some very salty and nasty language from a bully troll we will call Tomatito. Now Tomatito and I were part of a Latino-based page had some very cool and very engaging people. Long story short, people move on, they focus on other things, and you wish the people you leave the best of luck. He said I said something first, that I had taken advantage of others to further my web business (full disclosure: I have several businesses online and I do try a make a living out of them). Some people called me a hypocrite and a faker. Other people say WTF? And over, and over, and over. After a certain point, I remind myself that I don’t want to relive my junior high experience so I move on

Not Tomatito. Tomatito continues to spread rumors and lies about my relationships with mutual colleagues, he continues to make claims that I should be lucky to have been involved with this certain Latino-themed paged and that I would be a nobody without them. (BTW, that very large Latino-themed page got me 50 visits to my site. 50. I wrote four months for them. That is one visit every two days.)

Well, Tomatito, let me shed the light on a little bit of history:

  • I started doing social media for my amazing brother Fernando. I was blessed to have met a lot of similar-minded individuals who wanted to help me and I wanted to help them. Ah, 2008, it was a heady time in social media, and it was awesome. So much so, that me and Fernando were able to build a nice little niche for his music, and because of that a certain Spanish-language television network hired me to help them out on their social media strategy. Yes, I got a job with Univision all because of some tweets and the desire to help others. Crazy. And that opened up more doors for me, and I am still amazed that you can make a living doing social media.
  • In the meantime, I had always dreamt of forming my own Latino Daily Show, so around late last year I formed Latino Rebels, which will soon be on freakin cable TV (still can’t believe it) all over the country. Now Tomatito is saying that I couldn’t have achieved such success with the Rebels if it weren’t for the fact that I was associated with the larger Latino-theme page we both contributed to. Nope, that is not the case. Just like anything I do, I worked it and worked hard, and I am proud to say that the Rebeldes are doing just fine. And you know why the Rebeldes are having so much fun? Because we don’t care about who is better than others or who has the most followers or the least fans, we have a GREAT GROUP of talented performers and writers who all share the same vision as I do: to unite and entertain. And we treat ANY of our fans as if they were the most important person in the world, which is a lesson that Tomatito should take to heart.
  • In the meantime, Tomatito, keep hating and keep spreading those lies. My web traffic appreciates it so much. And since you have called me and other great people such loving words such as “shameless self-promoters,” “cafeteria communist,” “loser,” “rejects,” and “crazed Napoleans,” I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you for hating, for harassing, for cursing me out online, and for just being the awesome online bully troll that you are. In the end, hate gets you nowhere, and besides, my skin is thicker than Fort Knox.
So, bring the bully trolls on. I got a shield. It’s called the people who really know me and know my true intentions.

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Before I share my latest letter to the BBC regarding the TOP GEAR Mexican controversy, let me try to summarize where this is all at right now:

  • It all started with this.

Well, here is my email which I just sent to the BBC Complaints Department today:

 

TO: Editorial Complaints Unit

BBC

Room 5168

White City

201 Wood Lane

London

W12 7TS

 

FROM: Julio Ricardo Varela

STREET

TOWN STATE ZIP

USA

 

Dear ECU:

I write to express my sincere disappointment in how the BBC handled the now infamous TOP GEAR Mexican segment, where the three hosts of the show, in the name of “parody” and “humour,” created much offense to Mexicans and US Latinos. Unfortunately, I do not accept the response by the show’s producers as appropriate. I am asking that co-hosts Jerry Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May use their massive broadcasting influence and bully pulpit to sincerely acknowledge their lack of wit and humor in the aforementioned segment.

Having reviewed your Editorial Guidelines, I would like to call attention to a few guidelines that I believe were breached by the producers and co-hosts of TOP GEAR:

Section 19: Accountability

19.1.1 The BBC is accountable to its audiences.  Their continuing trust in the BBC is a crucial part of our relationship with them.  We will act in good faith by dealing fairly and openly with them.

19.1.2 We are open in acknowledging mistakes when they are made and encourage a culture of willingness to learn from them.

Section 5: Harm and Offence

The BBC aims to reflect the world as it is, including all aspects of the human experience and the realities of the natural world.  In doing so, we balance our right to broadcast innovative and challenging content, appropriate to each of our services, with our responsibility to protect the vulnerable and avoid unjustifiable offence.

Creative risk-taking is a vital part of the BBC’s mission.  However, in all our output, the greater the risk, the greater the thought, care and planning required to bring creative content to fruition.  We must be sensitive to, and keep in touch with, generally accepted standards as well as our audiences’ expectations of our content, particularly in relation to the protection of children.  Audience expectations of our content usually vary according to the service on which it appears.

When our content includes challenging material that risks offending some of our audience we must always be able to demonstrate a clear editorial purpose, taking account of generally accepted standards, and ensure it is clearly signposted.  Such challenging material may include, but is not limited to, strong language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, and discriminatory treatment or language.

5.4.1 We should judge the suitability of content for our audiences, including children, in relation to the expectations of the likely audience, taking account of the time and day on which it is available, the nature of the service and the nature of the content.
The following questions can help determine whether content will be within the expectations of the audience:

What is the likely composition of the audience, including the likely number and age range of children in the audience taking account of school time, weekends and holidays?  (We should be aware that school holidays are different in different parts of the UK.)

  • Does the talent, slot, title, genre or service carry pre-existing expectations that may be challenged by the content?
  • Has any difficult or challenging content been clearly signposted?
  • Are there any special sensitivities surrounding the slot, for example religious festivals or anniversaries of major events?
  • What is the likely “pull-through audience” (that is, what is the nature of the preceding content and what kind of audience is it likely to attract)?

In my opinion, it is clear that TOP GEAR breached these guidelines. What you say is “parody,” I think is just weak and lazy comedy that lacks intelligence and perpetuates tired and old stereotypes. Statements by your former CEO and former PM Tony Blair would confirm that I am not the only who thinks that TOP GEAR was wrong in broadcasting this offensive segment.

Here is the central point of the argument: you as a company want to global. Once you do that, you actually start broadcasting outside a UK audience, and must follow different audience expectations.

You cannot promote shows globally, profit from them, and then expect to hide behind a very weak and flimsy “lads will be lads” argument. In addition, once the segment was made public on YouTube, all bets were off. Your audience can comment and criticize. And when you BLOCKED the video, you were in fact telling people that they could not comment or share the content with others.

Social media empowers people to do so, and quite frankly, your lack of respect to these comments clearly shows that the BBC, when it comes to TOP GEAR, does not practice what it preaches. It is very likely that in the eyes of the BBC has set two double standards: wildly popular shows like TOP GEAR don’t even get a slap on the wrist, while other less popular shows could be chastised formally for a breach of guidelines. That is how I see it.

TOP GEAR had other options:

  1. Actually use comedy and parody with intelligence and wit, similar to shows like THE DAILY SHOW, THE COLBERT SHOW and others that poke fun at stereotypes with CONTEMPORARY perspectives and not ones that are still stuck in the 1950s and 2) Actually HAD fun with the controversy. Instead, Clarkson’s racist rant in The Sun made it worse, Hammond’s “apology” was a bit more sincere in nature yet lacked a true understanding as to why this segment was offensive to Mexicans and US Latinos, and May didn’t even comment to issue an apology. Why couldn’t the producers have addressed the backlash with real humor? Like bringing in the Mexican ambassador to the show or better, invite Chicharito from Manchester United and act out a public apology on television.
  2. That would have lessened the sting thousands and thousands of Mexicans and US Latinos felt when seeing the segment. But, that would take a different kind of thinking from your company. Instead of directly engaging your brand with these groups, you followed a very traditional response method that no longer applies to the current age of social media and digital content.

Sincerely,

Julio Ricardo Varela

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Lord Michael Grade

The criticism coming out the UK towards the TOP GEAR Mexican fiasco continues.

The Digital Spy reported this morning that Lord Michael Grade, BBC chairman and executive chairman of ITV from 2007 to 2009 , spoke to the The Daily Telegraph about the BBC car show and its co-host, Richard Hammond, who on the January 30 TOP GEAR episode called Mexicans “lazy, feckless [and] flatulent,” leading to an international incident between the Mexican government and the BBC. The BBC eventually apologized, but the social media space is still very active and it appears that criticisms against the TOP GEAR hosts will not end. Lord Grade joins Manchester United star Chicharito, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and UK comedian/actor Steve Coogan in slamming the infamous Mexican segment, presented here.

The Digital Spy posted the following about Lord Grade:

Lord Grade, the former head of ITV, told The Daily Telegraph: “I don’t think that’s acceptable in this day and age.

“That was disgraceful, it was horrible. How dare he [Richard Hammond] sit there, [on] prime-time television, casting aspersions on a whole nation.

“What’s he going to do next, talk about the Jews making money? Or the slitty-eyed Chinese, like the Duke of Edinburgh? I’m not a PC fascist, but it seemed to me to take us back to the dark ages of television.”

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First it was Manchester United star Chicharito. Now it is former British Primer Minister Tony Blair.

TOP GEAR Hosts (l-r) Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May ©Julien Behal/PA

Blair is the latest UK notable to criticize the BBC’s TOP GEAR program and its three co-hosts, Richard Hammond, James May, and Jeremy Clakrson.

According to The London Evening Standard, Blair made the following remarks while visiting the Mexican city of Monterrey:

Top Gear has said much worse things about me. You have my full support in this. Mexico is destined to be one of the great countries of the world, so don’t worry when you come across prejudice.

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