By on October 5, 2008

Jeremy Clarkson’s review for the Sunday Times reverses his usual formula. Normally, Jezza’s prose travels from the general to the specific, often reaching its rhetorical destination so late in the process that the car bit seems like afterbirth. I mean, an afterthought. The curmudgeon’s criticism of the Chrysler Sebring is, of course, pith-compliant. And entirely deserved. But as Top Gear’s alpha heads for home, he launches into yet another attack on the U.S. “Because America is a new country, the people who live there have no sense of history. And if you have no concept of ‘the past’, it is extremely difficult to grapple with the idea of ‘the future’. If you think a bar established in 1956 is ‘old’ then you will not understand the idea of next week. So why bother building for it? We see this short-termism in everything from the average American house, which falls over whenever the wind gets up, to the way chief executives are treated… And this brings me on to the war in Iraq. They went in there, knowing that pretty quickly they could depose Saddam Hussein. But nobody in power stopped for a moment to think about what might happen next. And there you have it. The insurgency problem in Baghdad and the wonky gearlever on the Chrysler Sebring. They are both caused by exactly the same thing.” Sort of like the British Empire and the island nation’s domestic car brands.

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38 Comments on “Jeremy Clarkson Hates America. Again. Still....”


  • avatar
    dolo54

    He does have a point there. Americans have been extremely short-sighted of late. Of course all the big brother laws being passed in the UK make them about equally short-sighted in my eyes. While Clarkson is playing to his audience which eats up this sort of stuff, at least he doesn’t leave anyone out of his sarcastic cut-downs. I’ve heard him mock every country that makes a car, including Britain.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    The irony is Clarkson looks like a Sebring convertible kind of guy.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    As dolo54 said in the first comment, it’s just Clarkson’s style. Don’t take it personally. After all, this is the guy who joked about a German car’s sat-nav always directing you to France. And referred to the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”.

    And if you think that’s bad, you should see what his said about his own county in his Suzuki Swift Sport review on the Times Online:

    If it was 1875 then yes, we could be proud of our Royal Navy and how Britain was an international byword for fairness, dignity, politeness and only shooting large numbers of unarmed people if they really deserved it

    Besides, look at the guy. He’s an overweight, bloviating, boor. He doesn’t give a toss about the environment and when evaluating cars almost always thinks “more is better”.

    In other words, Clarkson is actually a closet American!

  • avatar
    TR3GUY

    Now I know this is sounding awfully jingoistic from a gay left wing guy but I’m going to push buttons and have some fun.

    Of course we have been short sighted. Using the war in Iraq is shooting fish in a barrel. The new country thing is all relative. Coming from the east coast everything out here in Seattle seems very new. (Down the block from our house in Stony brook was a 100 year old Inn)

    But if the age of a country meant they made better decisions spare me. Italy changes governments more often then they change their socks (I never could get my Alfa to start in the damp weather) The UK is a shell of its former self. Good job on that Hitler/Chamberlin deal guys – now who helped you out? You drink warm beer because of Lucas must make your refrigerators. Greece and Spain loved fascism for years; The French aren’t crazy about Members Of my Tribe and can’t build a car.

    If you won’t judge the US on our current administration or our current auto industry I won’t judge you suppressing civil (a camera on every intersection) rights faster than you can say 911.

  • avatar
    srclontz

    It was crudely stated, in truly entertaining Clarkson fashion, but what did he say that was actually wrong? We are a new country, and often, we have no sense of history. It certainly is evident in our foreign policy.

    Our short sided automakers couldn’t have done a better job of destroying the automotive industry if they tried, assuming that wasn’t actually their goal. Having driven a Sebring, I would say they were wildly successful at producing a horrifyingly bad car. Whirlpool can build world class products here, and Toyota can even do it with UAW workers. Honestly, what has happened to the auto industry is criminal, and worthy of every cut down Clarkson directs at the entire country.

    As a bonus, our short sided financial institutions nearly destroyed the worlds markets, and who knows, they might have been successful.

    We build houses in hurricane prone areas that could be knocked over by a strong thunderstorm.

    My question is, what are we going to do about it? Close our eyes, cover our ears, and pretend all of this isn’t happening? I strongly believe that this country could lead the world in design and production of cars. We could even lead the world banking industry, if we focused on more than glorified day trading.

    My answer, call all of the irresponsible buffoons up on charges for treason. Deport Lutz to Switzerland, by way of Iran. Outsource the management to individuals who have a proven track record. While we are at it, we could put Chrysler out of it’s ancient copy of an old Mercedes producing misery.

    To think we thought the communists were going to get us. Really, if we don’t change our ways soon, we aren’t going to have anything left for Clarkson to mock.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Anyone that takes Clarkson’s diatribes seriously deserves all the ridicule they can get. He’s obnoxious, and he’s out there to provoke people. And he’s much fun. I mean, what do you expect? Like hiring Whoopi Goldberg to tell jokes at the White House?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    British cars were so good most of them aren’t made anymore.

  • avatar

    Ingvar:

    Clarkson’s nasty ass xenophobia is as lame as it is unnecessary. IMHO. The truth is the funniest shit of all.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I guess it’s a cultural thing, as a european I find him funny, but sometimes tiring. And I guess that americans in general doesn’t like when people tell jokes about them as a people. But then again, every culture has their choice of amusement. The americans have polacks, the french have the germans, and the english have the americans.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    The americans have polacks

    Not for decades. We do love poking the French, though – probably because they submit so willingly. That and the fact that the French didn’t immigrate as a rule and their culture here is pretty much limited to Louisiana. The fact that they obviously can’t stand us doesn’t hurt, either. The Polish are okay. I’ve never been to Chicago, but if they can stand Chicago winters then they’re alright by me. Seriously, how can anyone hate on people who (stereotypically) actually work for a living.

    Go Bears!

  • avatar
    MBella

    Clarkson does make fun of everyone. Most of the time does have a point. Why are our houses built out of wood. Did these builders ever read the three little pigs?

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Ingvar wrote:
    as a european I find him funny

    Too many Europeans have absolutely no clue and no understanding that “Americans” are in reality Europeans, Asians, Africans, and others who have come here for many different reasons, and who have created this nation and live together in peace — something that those who stayed in Europe cannot grasp. It is those who stayed who are by far more xenophobic, racist, and closed-minded. You want proof? Here we go:

    The americans have polacks, the french have the germans, and the english have the americans

    As for Jeremy Clarkson, he is a loud-mouth entertainer with a rather limited knowledge of the subject matter of his show. If you took his crude shtick away from him, there wouldn’t be much left.

    Oh, and yes, I am a first-generation immigrant from Europe, and I am sometimes ashamed to admit it. Thankfully, I then remember that we must not allow people of impaired intelligence to define our roots.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I thought this was supposed to be an automotive blog ? Once again Fargo plays politics.

  • avatar
    Mike Stevens

    I don’t disagree with Mr. Clarkson’s assessment of America entirely. After all, we by and large do bulldoze our past, replacing Main Street with Walmart, family dinners with McDonalds, and real news with TMZ. We have been taught to throw away our past, like everything else, in our mad quest to consume more than we can afford. For the first time in history, people are dying because they have too much to eat. We consume, consume, consume… to the point where we have one of the lowest savings rates of any developed nation, and also historically high credit card debt. Should it surprise anyone, then, that the American auto companies act a lot like the Americans running them, and are getting loans that are not far different in anything but scale than somebody who is paying their bills with their credit card, because there is no more money left? Should it surprise anyone that our banks are failing? Does it surprise anyone that of all the people being blamed, from executives on wall street to the Federal Reserve Chairman, that nobody points out that we are all to blame? Yes, we played a role in the demise of the car companies because for years we wanted nothing but large trucks and SUVs. We killed Wall Street because we took out loans that we couldn’t ever hope to repay, because we never did the math to think about how our income might need to be prioritized to afford that 40-year jumbo loan. And, we are killing ourselves because we supersize our french fries. Thinking about how our decisions affect us in the long term (and being accountable for them) has not been our strong point for a string of decades now. I can’t blame Clarkson for what he said; the fact that he is British instead of American might simply mean he has a better vantage point than any of us, from which he can witness our decline. The current state of our country, its people, and all of our major industries saddens me, and therefore I hope that we really learn from the pickle than we are in. There will not be a better opportunity to do so.

  • avatar

    Are we reading the same article? I don’t see any attacks on the US, I see a spot on analysis of how culturally we create and justify things like the Sebring. Not to mention the immense and short-sighted waste that is the Iraq War or our current economic debacle due to short term gains.

    Does anyone actually watch Top Gear or read his articles? He makes the same type of jokes and observations about virtually every country he visits or automobile he writes about, including his own country and mainstream British cars.

    It’s funny that so many will rush to call Clarkson xenophobic (among other things) when it only shows the xenophobia in themselves. He’s a foreigner that made comments that are frankly correct and the backlash it triggers doesn’t make him look bad, it only reinforces what he said.

  • avatar
    TR3GUY

    cheezeweggie :
    October 5th, 2008 at 9:47 pm I thought this was supposed to be an automotive blog ? Once again Fargo plays politics.

    I love TTAC. Because it’s more than an autoblog –the way the NY Review of Books is more than a book review or The Economist is more than articles about the economy and Motor trend is more than a mag about cars, it’s a GM cheerleader. Ooops that makes me elite.

  • avatar
    Adub

    I think his article was hilarious and accurate. Before the invasion, Colin Powell told the President “You break it, you bought it.”

    After the invasion, just as the looting broke out, Paul Bremer argued that the U.S. military should shoot the looters and prevent the infrastructure of the country from being destroyed. Instead, gutless wimps said “You can’t shoot innocent looters!” and the country was pillaged by its own people, who stole expensive hospital medical equipment to sell for scrap.

    Our politicians can’t see the logical outcome of any decision. McCain threw away his fiscal “responsibility” and anti-pork barrel line to support the bailout of Michigan. Now they’ve got the money and Obama has a lead. McCain looks like a flip-flopping shill.

    Way to go, dumbass.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    You’re right cheezeweggie. Not the first time this is happening. The first time I pointed it out, I almost got banned. I guess you should watch out.

    I wouldn’t have reacted to JC’s spouting, there is nothing new or interesting in it. It’s Ingvar’s ethnic slur that peed me off. I guess moderation on TTAC is too selective for that. And yes, I fully expect to get banned for pointing that out.

  • avatar
    M20E30

    Gardiner Westbound :
    October 5th, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    “British cars were so good most of them aren’t made anymore.”

    Bwahahahaha… +1

  • avatar
    NickR

    Funny, my wife and I had ‘characters’ that we’d look out for at parties, e.g., the self-consciously hip guy, the belligerent drunk, etc. We’d debrief (no jokes!) in the car on the way home, deciding who was who. One of these stock characters was ‘the English bore’. We’d have had no trouble agreeing on Mr. Clarkson.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    I view Clarkson the same as I view Michael Moore. An entertainer. A court jester. If you take them seriously, or look to either of them for solutions, then you need your head examined. They are comedians. They make a living by making fun of people.

    As a Yank living in a part of Australia where Americans are rare, I’ve had to deal with many, well lets call them naive idiots, often from Europe, who think that Moore is a brilliant genius. So I find at BBQ’s I have to deconstruct all the BS he pumps out that these Euro-weenies eat up.

    The word I use to describe both of these guys: cowards.

  • avatar
    jmhm2003

    The fact is that this is the worst car in the world, I drove one in Hawaii and the only thing that made it bearable was putting down the roof. I don’t think Chrysler had much to do with that.

    Oh yeah, and America is guilty of his charges.

    Sometimes the truth really hurts.

    For those of you offended there’s always Autoblog!

  • avatar
    amca

    Ah, but let’s remember who was in charge when this sad beast was designed:

    THE GERMANS!

  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    Eh, it’s just Clarkson. Just trying to stir people up. Britain has just as many great cars as we do… um… They have the Ariel Atom and Aston Martin. We have the ZR1 and um… the CTS-V?

    Does Britain have anything else exciting at home to talk about? Maybe winning the revolution? Oh… wait… Can they remember that far?

    I honestly find his banter quite funny, and somewhat accurate. Somewhat

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    I have heard many Europeans talk about America. And in every case, I have concluded the following: They just don’t understand the diversity of the United States. They try to lump Americans into – fat or stupid or smart or lazy or hard working or greedy or violent or weak or strong, etc… depending on who you talk with. The reality is our citizens are all of these things, and much, much more. When Clarkson and other Europeans talk about countries in Europe, they do the same. German = boring but smart, etc… Maybe you can ‘somewhat’ generalize European countries, I don’t know. Most are much smaller with a far less diverse population. But, using a ‘one size fits all’ with the United States makes you look uninformed. It would be like saying all European countries fit the same mold. Some of our states are as large as European countries, after all. We are a huge melting pot, with every ethnicity known to man. We are approx. 3,000 miles across, and that does not include Alaska or Hawaii. Although this concept seems easy to understand, most Europeans I’ve talked to just don’t get it. Just like they don’t get the fact we can make a pathetic car like the Sebring, but great cars like the ZR1.

    What I know for sure is this – Anyone who has ever bet against America, has lost. And I believe our diversity is one of the major reasons.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    hwyhobo:

    “I wouldn’t have reacted to JC’s spouting, there is nothing new or interesting in it. It’s Ingvar’s ethnic slur that peed me off. I guess moderation on TTAC is too selective for that. And yes, I fully expect to get banned for pointing that out.”

    Ethnic slur? Please… Yes, shoot the pianist, sounds like a good idea…

    I was merely explaining the fact that different people make jokes about different other people, and that it is natural that some takes offence, and some finds it funny. And perhaps whether or not you find it funny depends on what side you are standing. And what I, personally, finds the most funny thing of all, is how people with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever nonetheless has the ability to create great drama and amusement for others.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    I like JC, but you shouldn´t take all he says absolutely serious.
    And yes, the Sebring is a pile of sh*t.

  • avatar
    Albnyc

    Lots of people hate America; even Americans. And
    Clarkson is a ham-mouthed comedian.

    Lighten up and get over it.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Clarkson would be as dull as dishwater if it weren’t for his boorish schtick — we’ll survive him, but will we survive ourselves?

  • avatar
    nudave

    Actually, I think Clarkson is being charitable.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Seems he has his own island and a reporter visited to see what is going on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMuO-8S_0Wg

    Anyway – Brit humor is easily offensive as it is very dry, pointed and unabashed. I can laugh at myself – it’s when one thinks they are beyond reproach is the problem.

  • avatar
    simonptn

    It’s called satire.

    “A literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Humour is often used to aid this.”

    P.J. O’Rourke, Jon Stewart, South Park – we could use more of them.

    The Chrysler Sebring as a symbol of the state of the current US malaise? It seems like a pretty good one.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Dear Mr Clarkson,

    You’re a fantastic wit most of the time. I check your column every week and watch old episodes of your show here on BBC America. You drive like sh** however (powerslides are not the quickest way ’round the track), but it sure looks like fun.

    In fact, you’re so good, we’re going to franchise your car show here in the U.S.

    But your sense of history and understanding of the U.S. is rubbish. And your British insecurity is showing.

    Let’s begin with history. America is not 200 years old.

    Oh, our oldest structures may well be at most 400 years — like old Forts in Florida. And yes, most likely, that pub on the corner has only been there since 1956. The town where it sits may not even be 100 years old.

    But America itself is a natural result of thousands of years of European law, banking and finance, and religion.

    It is also the natural response to the comman man seeking freedom from Europe’s oppression in all counts above — especially of autocratic elitist rule.

    America, Jezza, is you. Only better.

    America is what your ancestors thought they could be, should be. It is what they longed for — and many died for.

    We try our best. And many times, our experiments are big, public disasters (go ahead, laugh it up). Yet many more times, our best carries the day – the century, even – for all mankind on earth (a thank you now and then is all we normally ask).

    So I’m sorry, Jezza, if your great-great-great-great grandfather missed the boat to our shores. You’d be here with us in America had he made it. No doubt, you’d love this land like we do; a country only a couple hundred years new — yet thousands of years in the making.

    And we understand, too, your position. We’ve got a big target on our backs. You can tease, complain, ridicule and insult us all you like.

    But it’s beneath you. It’s the easy laugh. The fall-back line. It appeals to British insecurity and is sure to fill the comment section with plenty of “here-here’s” from your countrymen and complaints from Americans.

    You can do so much better.

    Maybe, good enough even to be considered “American.”

  • avatar
    mmdpg

    I don’t mine Clarkson voicing an opinion about American cars but he is dishonest about the way he does it.

    I saw his review of the latest generation Mustang. He complained the GT is underpowered at 300 HP and can’t get out of it’s own way. They show him driving away and the car had a single exhaust, it wasn’t a GT, it was the 6 Cylinder base model. Why not say the base model is under powered and say you didn’t get to drive the GT?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Who cares what “Jeremy” thinks anyway? Where is the precious auto industry in his beloved England?

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I loathe Clarkson. The quintessential central casting silly-ass-Englishman. One would think that a Brit would be the last to cast stones, but that’s what bullies do, attack obvious targets in order to feel somehow better about themselves and their countrymen.
    For sure, the Sebring is one of the shittier stinking piles out there. Duh.
    And American cars of the last 2 decades have not been built to last. Only the Japanese seem to be doing that anymore. But in the US’s golden age (1940-1970) our cars were built to last and were the envy of the world.

  • avatar
    2ar-fever

    yeah willbodine, thats where clarkson was going with that bit. he was trying to make himself and his countrymen feel better about themselves. jc is a funny guy, but not as funny as how SOME of you react when someone clowns the states.

    not to mention the “lets begin with history” rant by domestic hearse. a classic.

    no one knows how the states, or north america for that matter, will look in 5 years thanks to greed and short-sightedness.

  • avatar
    Rijmus

    The Seabring is crap…

    I think the funniest thing is that, for all his criticism and all his american car bashing, he buys an american car. I believe he purchased a Ford GT40. Granted, it broke down on him quite a bit, but look how he drives, he breaks everything!

    Watch the audience’s face and even Clarkson’s face when they have famous americans on Top Gear. Clarkson gushed like a teenage girl when Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise were on!

    Americans know very few british celebs, the british know nearly all the american celebs… Secretly, the british are closet americans. And don’t worry, it’s ok because secretly, americans wish they had british accents *cough* Madonna *cough*.

    Before all you tea-sucking brits fire back at me with the fat, lazy, slow, stupid, wasteful, greedy etc. comments. Save it, I can guarantee that your comments are unorigional and fit neatly within the confines of set stereotypes as do mine.

    Truth is, I love the british. I love all of their sports, I love their beer and spirits, culture and wit and most of all, their stubborn nature. It’s what makes them great. Clarkson is the middle-age british poster child, bad teeth and all. Wouldn’t be Top Gear without him.

    *Edit* — I dont like chavs or drum and bass or british hip-hop slang

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