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In the interest of our readers, we created a bit.ly bundle of all the TOP GEAR posts that have been published on this blog in the last week. To see this summary, visit this link: TOP GEAR Summary.

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Kudos to the BBC for actually answering my complaint to them about the TOP GEAR fiasco. I just received a form email from them. However, old media responses just won’t cut it in my opinion, but thanks for the response, BBC Complaints Department! I still don’t agree with you. Bring back Monty Python!

Dear Mr Varela

Thank you for your feedback about the comments made about Mexicans in the Top Gear broadcast on 30 January 2010. The producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy staff, the comments about him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear production team has apologised for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme. With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special treatment in this case. Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect – to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.

[SIDENOTE FROM ME: So this is not vindictive? Ok.]

The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative – for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers. In line with that British tradition, stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour. Please accept our assurance that it was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect. Thanks again for contacting us. Regards BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided Kind Regards BBC Audience Services

I still think the apology is lame and their reasons about ethnic humor weak. And for that, BBC, you get a CHORIZO award!


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So while his fellow co-hosts Richard Hammond blogs an apology about the TOP GEAR Mexican controversy and Jeremy Clarkson writes his thoughts in THE SUN and digs a deeper hole, the last of the TOP GEAR three amigos, James May, reportedly created an ego-driven scene on a flight from Texas to London. As this post reports, James May Turns Diva on Transatlantic Flight:

May was booked into business class with a BBC crew for the flight from Texas to the UK but a last minute hitch forced him onto another already-packed plane.

According to the News of the World, the prospect of an economy seat sent James into a sulk.

A witness claimed he told BA staff: “I’m not flying economy. Why has muggins here got an economy seat?

“I have a newspaper column to write. I’m flying business, or I’m not flying at all. Sort it!”

We never knew he had it in him!

Flight staff hastily downgraded a family of four in a bid to keep the Top Gear man happy.

But a BA insider told the newspaper: “James May was an arrogant oaf – a complete diva. He lost the plot and started ranting about being given special treatment.

“Staff buckled and had to downgrade premium-paying passengers.”

May’s spokesman said the petrolhead needed a business class seat “so he could work”…

This hasn’t been a good week or two for May, who has yet to offer any statement about the TOP GEAR segment where the hosts are facing fire for their remarks. The segment can be seen here:

In addition, many news outlets erroneously reported that May was tweeting about the TOP GEAR episode on Twitter this week when they referred to this post from Feb 1:

This is not the James account on Twitter. The official May account on Twitter is actually this one below, which has not been active since June, 2009 and has only 5 tweets:

So, James, as you soak in your ego and think of the family of four you downgraded to economy class so you can do “work,” we give you THE CHORIZO award:

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