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Why do we continue to support boyish media brats like Jeremy Clarkson?

Update:  Following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson, BBC director-general Tony Hall has been placed under protection of bodyguards following “an allegation of threats to kill” the London’s Metropolitan Police Service have said.

The BBC received an email on Wednesday a few hours after the decision to end Clarkson’s role on Top Gear. According to Scotland Yard, the threat required immediate action.

Previously, Mamamia wrote:

British television personality Jeremy Clarkson has a cult-like following across the world.

The highest paid presenter in the United Kingdom,  he’s taken home more than ₤14 million while at the helm of the BBC’s Top Gear and in that time managed to create a show that reaches 350 million viewers. Top Gear is currently the biggest selling title for the BBC and the network has made a fortune from Clarkson’s ability to turn the mundane into entertainment. Clarkson is also a best-selling author whose book The World According to Clarkson stayed in top spot on the book-buying charts for an astounding eight weeks back when it was released in 2004.

He’s a well-loved media persona and has subsequently become a very, very, very wealthy man.

But Clarkson is also a man with a history of making very nasty ‘gaffes’ and is prone to outright intolerable behaviour, including racist, sexist, bigoted and plain nasty commentary.

In 2008, Clarkson made a joke about how lorry drivers murder prostitutes, it was in reference to Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. In 2009, Clarkson ridiculed his BBC TV bosses for obsessively hiring “black Muslim lesbians” on shows to balance out the number of white straight men.

In 2010, he upset the Mexican people by making a generalised comment that they’re “lazy, feckless and flatulent” In 2011, Clarkson joked about public sector workers striking over pensions by saying “frankly, I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.” In 2012 he was filmed using the “n-word” to describe black Americans.

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Last year, while filming an episode of Top Gear in Burma, he referred to a local as a “slope”. Also last year, he managed to upset Argentinians by driving through the country in a car with a number plate apparently referencing the Falklands War.

And this week Clarkson in the news again because he punched a senior producer of Top Gear in the face and called him a “lazy Irish c*nt” because instead of getting a hot steak for lunch, he was offered a cold meat platter instead.

Now that’s a legitimate reason to be racist, offensive and violent, right?

It was with this violent act that Clarkson finally crossed that very thick line of the BBC and has finally been sacked from his own television show.

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Read more: Comedian Adam Hills offers some smart advice to Jeremy Clarkson fans.

But let’s be frank: Why the hell have we permitted this man to stick around for so long?

Western media continues to allow men like Jeremy Clarkson to push the boundaries that in any other aspect of society would be considered offensive or even illegal. Moreover we give these badly behaved bully boys who never grew up, national and international platforms to make their personal views known and to influence others.

Take Australia’s Kyle Sandilands for example, he too has insulted many over the years but still managed to keep his lucrative job in the media. With a reported salary over over $2 million he’s also been picked-up as a judge for other shows like Australian Idol.

Kyle Sandilands
Kyle Sandilands with girlfriend. Image via Getty.

And how about John Laws? The multi-millionaire radio presenter called a 80-year-old male listener a “wet blanket” after the caller revealed details, through tears, of the sexual abuse he had experience in the 1930s. Previous to that so-called gaffe, Laws told a female caller who had a history of sexual abuse that women who dressed provocatively were “rape bait” and made deeply offensive comments following the death of then-Prime Minister Gillard’s father.

John Laws
Radio host John Laws. Image via Getty.
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Despite their disgusting rhetoric and deeply offensive and humiliating remarks though, men like these continue to be hailed as heroes. Their television and radio shows attract audience numbers in the millions and fans shake off their inappropriateness as part of their upfront, no-nonsense character. It’s a key element of their ‘stick’.

Following Clarkson’s penultimate gaffe, Change.org recorded their fastest growing petition of all time – signed by a million fans within days, all demanding Clarkson be reinstated to the famed show.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron also came out in support, referencing Clarkson as a “huge talent” and a “friend” whose dismissal would break the hearts of Cameron’s children and many other fans.

Read more: She was 6-years-old, John Laws. She was NOT ‘provocative’.

Similarly, Australian Prime Ministers and leaders continue to appear on Kyle Sandilands’ and John Laws’ radio shows. Their audiences are so large and influential that very few are brave enough to publicly ignore or snub them, let alone publicly criticise.

On some level you can understand from a business perspective why the BBC skirted around firing Clarkson for so long. He was a man that made them a lot of money and gave them access to an audience they for so long could not capture. But where we put revenue before common decency in the media, we perpetuate the same behavior in general society.

Western media has set a precedent over hundreds of years, where men in these influential positions with a certain amount of cultural privilege behind them can say and do as they wish. No matter who it offends or hurts.

And every time we fail to hold them accountable for their actions, they accumulate even more power.

So let’s not pity Jeremy Clarkson or the fans who are demanding he be reinstated, instead let’s come together and say: Too right, BBC. His behaviour over a sustained period was not good enough, he should be refused a privileged platform to promote his views and as media consumers? We don’t want to watch or listen anyway.

Vote with your attention. Next time you hear or view a program that is fronted by a privileged bully boy who misuses his power? Switch channels. Immediately.