Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Top Gear, not fear

One of my favourite TV shows is the British program Top Gear, which is best summarized as men acting like boys with way too many toys -- in short its terrific and a source of vicarious amusement for all those of us who don't own an Aston Martin or a Ferrari but would love to drive one, just once. Recently, one of the co-hosts was in an accident while attempting to replicate a world land speed record. His accident sparked a mini-furor in Britain, with much political correctness, piety and a few too many commentators willing to say "I told you so". Why the reaction? Here is Steve Bremner's thoughtful discussion, which also posits To Gear in a larger context:
Why did a TV show get the blame for everything from speeding drivers to failing to help control the ‘crisis of masculinity’ to global warming? For many commentators, Top Gear provokes an automatic expression of loathing as it celebrates many of the things that they detest about modern society: conspicuous consumption, technology, individual choice, risk taking, and an unwillingness to bow to the health and safety culture. Not only that, but as a TV programme it is imbued with an almost mystical power in the eyes of these cultural commentators. The show’s biggest crime is that it is very popular, apparently undermining all the ‘correct’ messages the public are getting elsewhere