We love a bit of hoo-ha in this country. A little bit of brouhaha. A little bit of outrage and apoplectic armchair slapping.
A little bit of whoa. A little bit of ooh.
On some deep perverse level all those people who complained about Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on The One Show (that striking public sector workers should be shot in front of their families) must have secretly enjoyed Clarkson’s comments. Been secretly pleased that he’d made them.
Because it got them excited. Made them feel alive. Got the blood surging through their veins and got their moustaches bristling in a thoroughly British bulldog manner. Here is some meat we can savage, Goddammit, get stuck in lads!
But really. It was a storm in a teacup. It was stuff and nonsense. It was nothing.
A comedy grenade tossed into the crowd to see which fellows it would take out and which it would leave standing.
Before I continue I need to make it clear that I am one of those striking public sector workers that Mr Clarkson would apparently like to see shot in front of my wife and kids.
Am I offended?
No. Not at all. I watched the show and took it all with a punch of salt. It was plain – absolutely plain – that the comments were off-the-cuff jokes designed to illicit nervous chuckles from those watching. Designed to shock. Designed to both offend and entertain. Frankie Boyle uses a similar kind of shtick though to greater effect (i.e. Frankie Boyle is actually funny). My wife wasn’t offended by Clarkson’s comments either though I’m pretty sure she got straight onto the phone to our solicitor to see whether she could amend my life insurance policy to include “death by publicity seeking celebrity”.
See. I made a joke out of it. It really isn’t worth twisting one’s knickers up about. The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek.
And I have sympathy with Mr Clarkson. No. Really I do. I’ve got into trouble on this ‘ere blog by people reading posts that were clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek and not-to-be-taken-at-all-seriously and then taking them very seriously indeed. And being offended. And, worse, seeking to be more and more offended by coming back for more.
Because, let’s face it, some people just like being offended.
So what are the alternatives?
Everybody is censored and is not allowed to say anything at all that could be construed as even slightly controversial? Well. We all better start wearing gags in that case and gimping ourselves up. None of us had better say another word. And where the hell do you draw the line anyway? Who decides what is offensive and what is not? Most jokes – even the genuinely funny ones – have a slightly offensive component to them. You could even argue that most things we find funny are built on someone somewhere being offended and offensive. Do we want to live in a world where humour is outlawed? Where no one can tell a joke because no one can take a joke?
I certainly don’t.
Get a sense of humour. Lighten up. Stop taking things so seriously.
If Jeremy Clarkson wants to drive past my house and take a pot shot at me from his Bugatti he is most welcome.
He won’t be able to get up my street anyway. The bin men were on strike on Wednesday and the roads are now chocka with crap.