Clarkson is so recognizable a figure, anything and everything he says or does reflects on Top Gear, whether good or bad.

We happen to fancy ourselves as pretty good at taking a joke. In this day and age of political correctness and walking on eggshells so as not to offend anybody, it's almost refreshing to hear some funny words directed at the various factions of the world in which we live. With so much diversity on our lovely planet, on the other hand, you can bet that somebody, somewhere, is going to take offense with pretty much any opinion you might hold. For some, being offensive is just a fact of life.

Few, though, have the knack for offending down to a science like the boys from Top Gear, and that's particularly true of the show's most visible and vocal figure, Jeremy Clarkson. Some of Clarkson's distasteful language has come from the television show, while some was penned in his regular column in the newspaper. No matter where he's been published, Clarkson is so recognizable a figure that anything and everything he says or does reflects on Top Gear as a whole, whether good or bad.

The most recent snafu that landed Top Gear in the wrong end of the news, in which they staged a crash in Peugeots at the exact location where a young woman lost her life in her own personal Peugeot, was described by a local politician as "reckless and insensitive." TG, for its part, maintains it had no foreknowledge of the fatal accident, but either way, that incident is just the tip of the offensive iceberg, so to speak.

Scroll down below to sort through the ten most offensive mistakes that have landed Top Gear in trouble.


10. Suggesting that babies should ride with luggage on airplane flights


This one is pretty innocuous. Really, anyone who regularly flies has probably had the same thought, or at the very least hopes and prays that they don't get seated in a row next to a crying infant. Besides, nobody really thinks Clarkson was being serious, right? Still, many were offended when Clarkson tweeted out these words last year, and they went public with their claims, and so it lands in the Number 10 spot on our list.

9. Writing inflammatory statements with spray paint on beater cars in the Southern US

"I'm bi," "Man love rules OK," "NASCAR sucks" and "Hillary for President." On the surface, this one sounds mostly lighthearted. Taking a jab at NASCAR is rather commonplace in some automotive circles, and there were a good number of Americans who had hoped to see Mrs. Clinton take a run at the White House several years back. The man-love and bisexual commentary may be a bit more sensitive an issue, though. In any case, the Southerners who spotted the Top Gear crew with these words spray-painted on their thousand-dollar beaters weren't amused, with Clarkson, Hammond and May fleeing for their lives and vowing never to return.



8. Testing the Tesla Roadster with a scripted and fake scene of it running out of power

Tesla Roadster Top Gear segmentElectric-vehicle proponents found themselves in a tizzy after Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson filmed a review of the Tesla Roadster in which the high-speed EV was shown running out of juice, requiring a push to get back to the garage for a recharge after just a few hot laps of the show's test track. Only one problem: The car never actually ran out of charge, the scene being planned all along to fit the show's specific agenda. Whoops (not really).

7. Calling people who commit suicide by jumping under trains "selfish"

If there's one specific person who perhaps shouldn't be wrangled, it's someone actively contemplating suicide. Normally, such individuals are calmly talked down from the ledge, as it were, before their life is snuffed out. At least that's the hope. Clarkson drew the ire of suicide prevention and counseling groups for saying that those who commit suicide by jumping in front of trains are selfish, further suggesting that the trains should resume their normal service as quickly as possible. This dustup resulted in British newspaper The Sun, which runs Clarkson's column, sending its staff through sensitivity training after an official apology was made.



6. Mocking Indian culture, disguising themselves as women, and replacing Jesus with The Stig and the Three Wise Men with themselves in holiday special shows

The Stig as Baby Jesus nativity sceneTop Gear garnered a number of official complaints for its depiction of life in India – offensive remarks targeting such diverse bits of culture as Indian clothing, trains, food and history, according to our initial report – in its holiday special at the end of 2011. You'd think they'd have known better, though, after invoking the ire of both Muslims in the previous year's holiday special by disguising themselves as women using niqāb headwear and Catholics by replacing Jesus with The Stig in a mock nativity scene. Or perhaps that's precisely why they did it.



5. Saying, "Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat"

This one is pretty obvious. Richard Hammond was pretty clearly suggesting that Mexican cars would be terrible because people that live there are fat and lazy. Clarkson further riled Mexicans when he followed Hammond's statement by saying they wouldn't get in trouble over it because the Mexican ambassador would be sleeping. Said ambassador was quite awake, however, and he responded exactly as you'd expect.



4. Filming a fake VW commercial that jokes about the Germans invading Poland in World War II

A quick glance up at this story's byline is all it takes to know that your humble author is of Polish descent. And so I speak from experience when I say that Polish people are used to being made fun of. Still, it's one thing to tell a Polish joke or two, and it's another entirely to recall the atrocities of World War II, kicked off as it was in 1939 by the invasion of Poland, in the name of a laugh.



3. Suggesting that striking workers in Great Britain be executed in front of their families

"I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families." Yikes. Those words were directed toward workers who had gone on strike in Great Britain. Clarkson continued, "I mean, how dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?" The social commentary landed Clarkson in hot water, and he issued an apology after Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Britain's largest trade union, said Clarkson's comments "were totally outrageous, and they cannot be tolerated." Prentis had called for Clarkson to be fired, but an apology is more than most of the offended parties have received.



2. Using the term "slope" to refer to Asians, then issuing a questionable apology

In a special episode filmed in Thailand, Clarkson, Hammond and May build a bridge over a river (that was not the river Kwai), then drive massive lorry trucks across the amateur overpass. The opprobrious bit comes into play when, admiring their work, Clarkson points out to Hammond that "there's a slope on it." The term "slope," in case you're unaware (and many weren't), is a derogatory way to refer to Asian people, one of whom was standing on the bridge when the scene was filmed. Bad enough to use a racial slur – this one ignited a $1.66M lawsuit – but the so-called apology that came afterward was possibly even worse, in which Executive Producer Andy Wilman first claimed ignorance, then admits guilt.



1. Did he or didn't he use the N-word?

This one's the biggie, eliciting a response and seemingly heartfelt apology from Clarkson himself, along with a vote of confidence from co-host James May. Back in May, Clarkson was taped in a video segment mumbling the words to a children's nursery rhyme in which he may or may not have used the N-word. It's pretty difficult to understand what's actually said, but the response was significant enough that Clarkson sounded legitimately in fear of losing his job at Top Gear, saying that the BBC will fire him if he makes "one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time." For those keeping track, this isn't the first time Clarkson has come under fire for commentary that refers to someone's skin color.



So there you have it, and we've just scratched the surface. Suffice it to say that many, many people have found themselves on the receiving end of a Top Gear barb, and a good number of them have turned around and aired their grievances in public.

The question that remains after all is said and done, though, is whether or not Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson in particular should bow to the throngs of complaints, toning down their perceived insensitivity level so as not to offend. We'll leave that for others to decide and discuss. Feel free to do just that in the Comments.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      gasaraki88
      • 5 Months Ago
      I found none of that offensive.
      dfkd
      • 5 Months Ago
      One word: Context I view the show as (occasionally informative) entertainment. Surrealism, satire and sarcasm. To be taken no more seriously than say, Monty Python.
      Car Guy
      • 5 Months Ago
      I don't see why Clarkson is being singled out here. The world is full of low brow humor. How are these comments/stunts any more offensive than what's broadcast every night on basic cable (i.e. E!, MTV, or Comedy Central)?
      ksrcm
      • 5 Months Ago
      I might not even like Top Gear and their format. But give the credit where credit is to be given ... NOBODY has a talent to offend and use language as a weapon as Brits do. Kudos to them for it. I wish they would keep it that way. But then, I maybe grew up in a truly effed up country where physical pain was the norm so I heed no thought to some words some idiot's flatulence expelled out of the wrong end orifice - that's nothing compared to physical pain. So, I can only rejoice when I see how certain corners of the globe went into 21st century. Taking offense and demonstrating pain from that offense means only one thing : their existence is not physically challenging or hurting as it used to be. Good for them.
      Sergey R
      • 5 Months Ago
      Oh, I thought everyone was watching Top Gear because of his jokes. Top Gear wouldn't be a Top Gear without Clarkson's jokes.
      Joseph
      • 5 Months Ago
      Lets just ban all comedy, period. That way no comedian will ever offend any one, people, place, or thing. In fact we should start by executing all comedians on live TV. The show will be called "This is No Joke". People of the world, I implore you, get a F-ing grip. You and me have been making fun of each other for laughs since we invented time. In fact I would be willing to bet my life that there is no human being on this planet that has not at least between their on ears made fun of some other nationality, stereotype, or geographical location, for their own amusement. Politically correct? Whats that saying about first thing we do with the Lawyers? And aren't the vast majority of politicians lawyers? Should we completely eradicate any and all references made by and to the great Mr. Don Rickles? No, in fact there should be enacted the "Rickles Clause", that any comedian/entertainer could invoke when using any and/or all forms of insulting for amusement. "Rickles Clause" , I think I may have just come up with an Idea for a Hollywood hit movie with that. Let no human go un-insulted. I actually think that was one of Benders rules. The BBC actually should encourage them to do it more as it seems to be helping the ratings. I guess more people want to tune in to see who they will offend this week. Or maybe we should put Jerry Seinfeld in an oven for his offenses, put Jay Leno in one of his cars and send him to the crusher for his offenses. And don't get me started about religious jokes as I am of the belief that any/all religion was the beginning of the downfall of human being-ness. I would like to see the "Eradicate all Religion" movement be overwhelmed with crowd sourcing. If anyone has a problem with that line of thought , I suggest you start learning about Alchemy and then Quantum Physics so you can understand what you just learned in the Alchemy teachings. Jeremy Clarkson is a big, goofy looking, self amusing, inconsiderate, lower intelligence human and I love him Long Live Top Gear. As is, insults included. All replies to this post will be ignored as your opinion really doesn't matter. LOL.
      Avinash Machado
      • 5 Months Ago
      Political correctness is a disease.
      • 5 Months Ago
      I see nothing wrong with any of this. It's a entertainment based car program. If you don't like what they say, you don't have to watch. Jeremy gets in trouble for possibly saying the N word, and possibly making a joke about Asians, or Hamster making fun of Mexicans??? That is any rap song on the radio, or any comedian that is "edgy" and yet he almost loses his job? Leave the show the way it is. It's literally one of the most popular shows on TV world wide right now. http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/guiness-book-of-records-2012-09-07 and if we wanted it to change, we would stop watching. This is stupid
      AwolG5
      • 5 Months Ago
      I love the man for everything listed above. I am sick and tired of the political correctness in this world. Now there is no place for any of the above to be done in spite but it was pure comedy. Come on guys an gals grow a pair!
      greg
      • 5 Months Ago
      wait a second people take Top Gear seriously? It's not a factual news show it is more entertaining and satire based around the car
      Al
      • 5 Months Ago
      Personally, Clarkson is a role model. He doesn't offend me one bit and I like that he says it like it is. He doesn't buy into political correctness bullshit (which is mainly a North American thing anyway).
      Corey Blue
      • 5 Months Ago
      People need to freaking grow a sense of humor. Kill political correctness. Besides I'm a Christian and I found it funny that the Stig was playing baby Jesus.
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