I’m not going to enter directly into the whole Top Gear debacle, the world and his dog are doing that this morning. Social media is awash with it. I tend to feel if you punch a co-worker then you can’t really complain about being in trouble.
However I did think it was worth mentioning this dreadful piece in the Guardian by Zoe Williams which uses the fuel of her distaste for Clarkson to launch a factually incorrect attack on Top Gear.
Williams proudly states on Twitter she has been trolling Clarkson. Trolling? Really? That’s the intellectual heights you aimed for with this? There’s a good debate to be had around the goings on at Top Gear but this isn’t it. This dizzying intellectual prosecution is built on calling him a dick and then lying about Top Gear’s content.
Williams’ piece reads like she is someone who has heard of Top Gear, doesn’t like the sound of it, and has then written an article about the show. How else could one explain her complete failure on the subject of hybrid cars and specifically the BMW i8. It’s Chinese Whispers journalism, it’s all part of a culture that has phone hacking at one end and junk like this at the other. This was very much a phoned-in piece of work.
TG in recent years has acknowledged that the future is electric. The problem the show’s hosts often have with the technology is not the shift to electric but the method of doing so. Batteries are expensive, heavy, polluting, rare resource hungry and a stop-gap technology in their current form. TG favours hydrogen fuel cells – though these bring a whole new set of problems. But let’s not get too deep into the science – suffice to say TG is not anti-electric.
Zoe Williams does not know this – she just makes assumptions. But – says Williams – forget petrol, there’s this wonderful new car from BMW called the i8. You’ve probably never heard of it as Top Gear hates that stuff, it’s the future, not the past. This is the kind of car my “eco feminist” Top Gear would cover. Top Gear reviewed the BMW i8 two weeks ago. Clarkson loved it, chose it over the standard petrol M3. Perhaps Zoe knew this and just didn’t care about the facts, trusting her audience not to watch TG and find her out.
What of the most exciting cars on the show in recent times – the ones the hosts have loved the most – the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LaFerrari? All petrol/electric hybrids. These cars showcase the technology that will be in our family cars in the next five to ten years. Did TG hate them? Quite the opposite, the talk of the last few weeks has been about how they can convince the manufacturers to let them test them head to head. This is exciting technology that will be at the heart of motoring for the next decade. Top Gear has covered it quite extensively and positively.
I get it Zoe, you don’t like Jeremy Clarkson. That’s fine, he doesn’t seem very likeable, so I can’t blame you there. But your article about Top Gear was pure fact-free junk. Zoe said on Twitter she stayed up late writing her piece. It shows. Punching a colleague shows very little integrity, but neither does calling someone a dick then either lying or getting your facts wrong. People who are obstinate, pig-headed and hold views based on prejudice rather than facts are always likely to come unstuck, look at Clarkson, but the irony is Zoe Williams piece shows all the same traits. They should work together.