Not Lent yet – one last snark

I didn’t mean to snub everybody. I was on a ten-hour flight from San Francisco to London, and came home to find my that Internet Service Provider was down. Now it’s up, and so am I. Though it’s four a.m. Wednesday here, it’s Tuesday in California, British Columbia, Alaska and the Pacific. So it’s still Semana Snarka.

Thanks to everybody who sent in material to help me overcome my snarker’s block – in particular Snart, who emailed news that Madonna would like to be our next Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jeff, who sent this tidbit:

Paris Hilton attended Vienna’s Opera Ball last week with 74 year old construction worker Richard Lugner who was quick to defend his date’s honor: “Look, there are probably three or four nude photos of me, too, stashed away somewhere.” Paris said she would never do anything to sully the ball’s reputation “because I respect the institution of the Opera Ball too much.”

Great stuff. I was planning to write about it when I walked into the house and saw that the cat flap had been torn clean out of the door. I soon discovered why: through a series of miscues our dog had been locked inside all night and day, until he tried to jam his Labrador-sized body through a kitty-sized hole in a frantic attempt to get to a bush outside. No such luck. Cue my son: “Have you seen the rug in your bedroom?”

Here’s the best thing about jetlag. You’re so tired that nothing sinks in. We called the carpet cleaners and collapsed in front of the television to watch my son’s favorite show, Top Gear. For people who don’t know this BBC hit, it’s about cars. Technically it’s about reviewing the new Hondas, and Ferraris, but mostly it’s about speed, stunts and sarcasm. The presenters spend much of their time insulting bad cars, each other and, whenever possible, the French and Germans.

On this week’s episode, they bought some beat-up American cars and took a road trip from Miami to New Orleans. So I should have seen it coming. Host Jeremy Clarkson began the drive by saying, “Here’s all you need to know about America. Everybody is fat. Everybody is stupid. Everybody is rude.”

I’m required by British law to pay a license fee to fund the BBC. If I watch television without paying, I can be fined or go to jail. And this is what I get for my money? The episode made The Dukes of Hazzard look like Proust. My Labrador could come up with something less cliched than this. I’m expert at mocking American rubes, so I know. And of course, the show had to work its butt off to get anybody to be as rude as the hosts. Aiming for a sort of Borat-meets-Fear-Factor vibe, the highlight was a competition among the presenters. Their challenge: paint slogans on each other’s cars that would get them arrested or shot while crossing Alabama.

Cut to a segment that can only be called Chumming for Rednecks. After giggling about how it’s the South, and everybody’s Christians, we see the cars, covered in graffiti. “I’m bi.” “Man-love is the way.” “Hillary for president.” Okay, that’s funny. “Country-western music is rubbish.” They pull into a truck stop. The manager comes out. “What are you doing? This is a hick town.” She waves at the camera crew and at the car painted with “NASCAR sucks.” Clarkson insists he’s straight, and NASCAR does suck. The manager stomps away and calls out the hicks.

Up drives a pickup with a passel of rock-throwing guys named Cletus in the back. And at this point in our evening of public service broadcasting, I decide I’d rather do the dishes.

But here’s the thing. I’m grateful to Top Gear. For the first time in my life I opened my heart to a bunch of stump-toothed peckerwoods. Thanks for that. And I also came to think that Madonna, in wanting to emulate Martin Luther King, has the right idea. At least to my fat, stupid brain, non-violent civil disobedience sounds better than “Get your friend shot in Alabama.” And, almost unbelievably, I now feel charitable toward Paris Hilton. She behaved at the Vienna Opera Ball, wanting to be a respectful guest. That’s more than the Top Gear guys did. My dog pissed on the rug because he was desperate. They did it to insult people.

So ends Snark Week. Bring on Lent.

8 responses to “Not Lent yet – one last snark

  1. Meg, February 9,10 & 11 saw Clarkson & co presenting a show called MPH’07 at a venue near my home in Johannesburg. The show features Clarkson and a recovered Hammond doing all manner of things to motor cars. After a particular sequence during the first show, the huge hall was filled with smoke and the acrid stench of burning rubber, Clarkson, trying to be particularly clever, say’s “that’s something I’m sure you’re all very familiar with, the smell of burning tyres.” To their lasting credit, the audience never uttered a sound, Clarkson, realising his monumental gaffe hastily changed the subject.

  2. With models like these on the airwaves, we wonder why society’s going to hell in a handbasket?

  3. Ken, I had to read that statement twice. The first time I thought it was the antibiotics and codeine-laced cough syrup currently coursing through my veins that scrambled the words to make something so nasty/crass/ill considered/ obtuse.

  4. Hey guys, has anyone seen a sense of humour around here?

  5. I tried to expunge all my snarkiness; I didn’t mean to hit the general sense of humor with the firehose and blow it away as well. For the record, Top Gear is on at my house on average seven nights out of seven. I find Clarkson funny about 90 percent of the time, and Richard Hammond is universally beloved around here. James May has a fan base, too. This episode simply set itself up as the perfect target for my final burst of snark. It was a chance I couldn’t ignore.

  6. I’ve been a fan of Top Gear for many years as I too find Clarkson & co very funny most of the time. The incident I related illustrates how easily it is to step over the line which seperates humour from bad taste.

  7. Pingback: Top Gear Goes to China Lake « lying for a living

  8. Pingback: For Lent: no complaining | lying for a living

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