One of our favorite shows just went all Kramer on Mexicans. (And things will never be the same. Sigh). Car show Top Gear, the insanely popular British progenitor of an L.A.-based American program of the same same, appears to have gone off the deep end with anti-Mexican sentiment.
In talking about a Mexican sports car, host Richard Hammond says, "Just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican." (Laughter).
The Mexican embassy in London has asked for an apology from the BBC-produced show.
The guys, the British version of back-slapping Old School types, were being tongue-in-cheek of course. But at some point it just got to be too much.
"... Mexican cars are just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight ogre leaning against a fence, asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat."
"It's interesting cuz they can't do food, the Mexicans, can they? Cuz it's all, like, sick [vomit] with cheese on it."
"Yeah, refried sick."
Yeah, we make fun of bad British teeth and their delightful meat pies, but come on: Lazy? Asleep? After Hammond makes the comment about falling asleep and waking up to find you're Mexican, Clarkson says:
"Oh, it'd be brilliant. Cuz you could just go straight back to sleep again. 'Oh I'm Mexican ... '"
"That's all I'm gonna do all day."
"That's why I won't be looking to get any complaints about this because the Mexican Ambassador's going to be sitting there with the remote control like this [mimes holding the remote while snoring.] They won't complain. It's fine."
Ironically, the lazy Mexican, along with the baked-cheese plate, seem to be an American construct. (Melted cheese on a Mexican dish might even be an L.A. invention).
The richest guy in the world is Mexican. And the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills featured a Mexican husband. Many of us of Mexican descent are doing just fine, thank you, but Latinos still identify more than any other ethnic group in the U.S. as being the victims of discrimination.
At some point in an ethnic group's history (if you're Irish or Italian) you can have at it. At what point that is, it's not clear, though. Will Mexicans ever have their Irish-as-drunk-guy moment? Maybe. But not as long as thousands come across the border each month to work as America's no-rights-having servant class. Each one sets our assimilation clock back just a little. For most, that's fine. Our blood, our culture follows us; it doesn't let us forget where we came from.
At least for now, this bit of anti-Mexicanism was, as they say, too soon.
Top Gear presenters in legal firing line over anti-Mexican comments - Mexican viewer threatens to sue BBC over Richard Hammond's remarks
A Mexican who saw the BBC's Top Gear programme on Sunday, in which her compatriots were described as "lazy, feckless, flatulent [and] overweight", has instructed lawyers to bring a test case against the show under a new equality law.
Lawyers for Iris de la Torre, a 30-year-old jewellery design student in London, accused the BBC of using racism to boost ratings and said the case could cost the corporation up to £1m in damages. They demanded an investigation by the BBC and suspension of the show.
The BBC has already received an official complaint from the Mexican ambassador, who demanded an apology for the broadcast's "xenophobic" and "offensive" content.
The remark was made by the presenter Richard Hammond, while his co-presenters, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, described Mexican food as "refried sick."
De la Torre's lawyers previously brought legal action against Channel 4 for remarks made about the Indian actor Shilpa Shetty in the reality show Celebrity Big Brother.
In a legal complaint seen by the Guardian and sent as a letter to the BBC, they claim that the remarks made on Top Gear are unlawful and a breach of the rules banning discrimination by public bodies.
"I was shocked at what the BBC allowed to be broadcast," De la Torre said. "I have never had a bad experience in the UK due to my nationality. I do not understand how such ignorant people hold such high-profile jobs."
The complaint could become the first case brought under the Equality Act, which came into force last September. Under the law, anyone providing a "service to the public" is prohibited from anything that constitutes discrimination.
Writing to the BBC is the first stage of bringing a case; the next would be making an application to a county court.
"These remarks were probably calculated and deliberate to fuel anger and hence boost ratings – the presenters apparently feel that they are fighting a battle against political correctness," said Lawrence Davies of De la Torre's solicitors, Equal Justice.
"However they are not permitted to use unlawful means to do so and broadcast their racist thoughts. A broadcast is a service and it is unlawful to produce racist services."
The BBC said it had not yet received the letter, but that it would be dealt with through the appropriate channels.
The controversy is the latest in a series of TV scandals involving offensive behaviour by presenters. Last month Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray lost their jobs after sexist off-air remarks were leaked.
Top Gear presenter Clarkson, who has been repeatedly criticised for making offensive comments, had condemned Sky for the decision, describing it as "heresy by thought".
BBC sorry for anti-Mexican remarks on 'Top Gear'
The BBC has apologized to Mexico's ambassador for remarks on its "Top Gear" program that described Mexicans as lazy and oafish.
The BBC wrote to Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza on Thursday, saying that national stereotyping is part of British humor — and that the presenters did not intend to be vindictive.
"Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganized and over dramatic; the French being arrogant and the Germans being over organized," the statement read. "We are sorry if we have offended some people, but jokes centered on national stereotyping are a part of 'Top Gear's' humor."
The remarks came in a segment in which presenter Richard Hammond claimed that cars imitate national characteristics.
"Mexican cars are just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent, oaf with a mustache leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat," he said. Presenter James May mocked Mexican food, while Jeremy Clarkson suggested the ambassador would be too busy sleeping to register his outrage.
The ambassador in turn, wrote to the BBC earlier this week, complaining about the "bigotry and ignorance," of the presenters.
The BBC received thousands of other complaints about the anti-Mexican comments, particularly from people outside of Britain.
Hammond, Clarkson and May are known for frequent and irreverent quips The BBC has fielded complaints in the past after Clarkson made a joke linking truck drivers with prostitute murders and described former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a "one-eyed Scottish idiot."
The show's mix of outlandish jokes and auto worship has made "Top Gear" a British institution, broadcast in more than 100 countries. More than 6 million viewers saw the episode in question.
Awesome fauxpology, BBC. Just awesome.
If you want to see the clip in question, you can watch it here.