You sit down in your flat in Mexico City and watch ‘Engranaje Arriba.’ but of course you speak perfect Spanish so you know it’s the Mexican Top Gear.
They are talking about a British car, your ears prick up.
‘It’s going to be rubbish isn’t it,’ says one of the presenters, ‘The British can’t make cars anymore.’
‘The British are all too busy moaning about immigration and blaming anyone but themselves.’
‘And the women are very ugly.’
‘Oh yes, there’s that, the women really are fat and ugly, and always drunk.’
‘Well, they have to get drunk, because look at the men.’
Much laughter from the beaming audience in the background.
‘Here’s what I want to know, how do they make babies? They must all hold their noses!’
‘Why is that?’
‘The British never wash.... down there!’
Massive explosion of laughter and applause.
‘Ha ha, and they only make expensive sports cars that none of them can afford to drive.’
‘British food looks like a dog left it on the plate.’
‘Like a dog poo?’
‘Yes, a British dog does a poo on a plate, and they put salt and vinegar on it!’
‘And of course, if the Americans tell them to do something...’
‘They all d it straight away, quick, invade Iraq, boom, straight in there.’
All highly amusing, if I watched that I’d laugh, mainly because some of it is true, it’s only a joke and it’s based on silly stereotypes. So, why have the Mexican’s got all moody about the middle aged men in jeans? They poke fun at everyone, it’s Political Correctness gone Barmy as the good old Daily Mail will no doubt say.
Okay, so it’s a subtle area, this whole racial slurring, stereotyping for gags, good natured jibes, the French stink of garlic type humour.
But just imagine this for a moment. You’re sitting in your home in England, Sunday night, it’s Top Gear Time.
Jezza : This is a new car made in Africa.
Hammond: Africa! What’s it made of, mud?
May (smugly): Mud and bark.
Massive laughs from adoring audience, strangely arranged so attractive women are standing at the front.
Jezza: What’s going on? Africans can’t make cars, they can make grass skirts and famines, but they can’t make cars.
May (smugly): They are good at famines.
Hammond: Anyway, Africans can’t drive, anyone who’s been there knows that.
Jezza: What do they need cars for, they all walk along dusty tracks with half a rainforest on their heads.
Hammond: That’s just raw materials delivery for their car factory, hut.
Another massive guffaw from the audience.
May (smugly): I hope this African car has got wide seats.
Jezza: Why’s that James?
May (smugly): Because all African people have got big bottoms.
Hammond: That’s true, they do have massive bottoms, and the children all have big tummies and flies around their eyes don’t they. Why is that?
Jezza: Search me, anyway, now, the Bugatti Veyron....
Now, what is the difference between that, and the equally badly informed ‘jokes’ they did the other night about the Mexicans?
I would like to suggest it has nothing to do with what ever political correctness is supposed to be. It’s about being ignorant. One of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met was a Mexican architect. He wasn’t lazy, he didn’t wear a poncho, he cooked some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and he was a gentle, non judgmental kind man. I also know if he’d watched Top Gear the other night he would have laughed because he wouldn’t be threatened by such inanity. He would have known that the three middle aged men in jeans had not a clue about Mexican history and culture, he would know what they were really doing was revealing their own ignorance and frail self worth.
It’s not true that all comedians make fun of people from other cultures or races, they used to, they were called Bernard Manning, Jim Davidson, they were sexist, homophobic, racist bullies and the world has slightly improved since their popularity has waned.
I do enjoy Top Gear but the Mexican stuff was just painful, bigoted, unfunny and embarrassing. I don't think it's a sign of anything, just that as was recently revealed in a survey, the British are about 25% racist bigots. We are more fearful of immigrants than any other nation in Europe. Maybe this isn't something we should all be so terribly proud of?