Opinion: Amazon Would Be Stupid to Cancel Jeremy Clarkson Over the Markle Scandal

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Amazon is reportedly dumping famed auto writer Jeremy Clarkson over his having made jokes about Meghan Markle late last year. Though it’s only a rumor at present and seems like the streaming service may just be attempting to appease the offended parties until all is forgotten. Unspecified sources have told Variety that Amazon won’t be working with the host beyond the seasons of The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm that have already been commissioned – providing a buffer period for tempers to cool and memories to fade.

With a contract that runs till the end of 2024, Clarkson probably has a very good chance of outrunning what appears to be a relatively tepid scandal. Your author probably wouldn’t even have written about the matter were it not brought forward by the editor. But the issue has continued to get blown up in the press, until it has started to influence the real world.

Let’s take a look at how we got here.

On December 16th, The Sun published a piece written by Clarkson that takes time to lambast Meghan Markle – the American actor who married Prince Harry in 2018. The piece was immediately criticized by mainstream media outlets and continued to pick up steam on social media. Apparently, people had forgotten who Clarkson was and had become outraged that he would dare make a hyperbolic joke at the expense of another celebrity. Condemnation was focused around a single segment in the article where he states his hatred for Markle and noted that Prince Harry seems to have no agency whenever she’s around.

“At night, I'm unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant 'Shame!' and throw lumps of excrement at her,” he wrote.

Despite countless other people similarly expressing their distaste for the Meghan and Harry media tours we’ve been collectively subjected to, these comments were deemed taboo in the press for a multitude of reasons. The most popular involved allegations of sexism. Pressure mounted through December and ultimately encouraged calls for Amazon to boot him off the platform.

By December 19th, Clarkson acknowledged that he was in trouble online and subsequently asked The Sun to remove the article.

“Oh dear,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people. I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.”

He remained relatively silent for the remainder of that month. But, as a second wave of criticisms was launched in January, news broke that Amazon Prime Video was considering cutting ties. According to Variety, a virtual press conference for the series Clarkson’s Farm that was set to take place on Tuesday morning had been called off and the streaming service was considering not renewing any contracts it had with Jezza.

While it needs to be said that Amazon has confirmed nothing, Clarkson noted the company was aware of the scandal and the presenter seems to have been impacted by its response – as he took to Instagram to comment on the matter on January 16th.

“One of the strange things I’ve noticed in recent times is that whenever [Members of Parliament] or a well-known person is asked to apologise [sic] for something, no matter how heartfelt or profound that apology may be, it’s never enough for the people who called for it in the first place,” he said. “So I’m going to try and buck the trend this morning with an apology for the things I said in a Sun column recently about Meghan Markle. I really am sorry. All the way from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head. This is me putting my hands up. It’s a mea culpa with bells on.”

The apology continues and is quite lengthy, eventually focusing on how claims that he was promoting sexism are ridiculous. He even goes on to cite specific examples where his programs clearly debunked myths that women were less-capable drivers, before stating that he doesn’t support abusing women and reiterating that his offending statements were simply a poorly executed joke. Clarkson later goes on to explain that people were attempting to get the U.K. government to charge him with a hate crime at the same time he was reaching out to Meghan and Harry directly to beg forgiveness.

Though a statement from Markle's and Prince Harry's spokesperson given to People, claimed the apology letter was only addressed to Prince Harry and had been marked "Private and Confidential."

Considering this entire scandal began with him publicly musing that Meghan had effectively neutered the man, that bit is pretty funny in itself.

While Clarkson seems to be casually defending the honor of the British royal family this time around, the man has often been on the anti-establishment side of many debates. When the United Kingdom decided to put speed cameras anywhere they’d fit, he was devoting entire segments of Top Gear (the most popular television program in the world at the time) toward mocking them. When electric cars first appeared for sale, he noted that the sense of moral superiority they offered didn’t actually make them better vehicles to live with. Heck, Clarkson’s Farm is basically a program devoted to how badly government regulations have mucked up agriculture. His entire life has been devoted to pointing out flaws in the system (usually as it pertains to automobiles) in a humorous manner that teeters between being beautifully eloquent and completely unhinged.

This is why people liked him to begin with. He’s irreverent, snarky, human, and he’s frequently been the only person in the media expressing an opinion shared by scads of people that aren't being paid to share their own. He’s a lot more complicated than simply being a public persona that likes to push people’s buttons. We’ve seen him say incredibly insensitive things and then pivot to a momentary bout of crying as he becomes suddenly emotional and sensitive.

Meghan Markle certainly doesn’t need or deserve more protection than Jeremy Clarkson. She has been paraded around on television for several years now with nothing much to say beyond bashing her in-laws. While that's absolutely fine and perhaps even deserved, carefully selected interviewers make sure she’s given the maximum leeway to complain about being a literal duchess and typically follow up by consoling her. Meanwhile, her husband sits at her side sullen and useless. In my estimation, Clarkson’s only real offense seems to be having noticed this.

If Amazon is giving him the boot for being difficult to work with or because his shows have seen a noticeable decline in popularity, that’s absolutely fine. Nobody expects companies to continue dumping money into guaranteed losses or people that are impossible to collaborate with. But if he’s really getting the boot because he made a mean joke about someone intentionally placing themself in the public eye, then we’re going to continue having problems finding authentic voices.

Though, until Amazon says anything concrete, I’m inclined to believe it’s not so much what the man said but the coordinated media backlash against it. There’s likely not much overlap between fans of Meghan Markle and Jeremy Clarkson, making the alleged joke scandal largely irrelevant in terms of how it’ll impact their respective audiences. It might even help Jezza raise his profile – as is sometimes the case with “canceled” celebrities – and position him for another run. It’s not like this is the first time he’s faced public scrutiny for telling a joke uptight people didn’t appreciate ( e.g. Argentina) and I certainly hope it won’t be the last.

[Image: MaciejGillert/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Rosanne Rosanne on Jan 18, 2023

    So you think it is civilized to write for publication in the newspaper that you wish a young woman be dragged down the street naked while citizens throw feces at her????? Anyone who supports a man who PUBLISHES that disgusting thought is a barbarian. What planet are you from???

  • Shanelle Shanelle on Jan 19, 2023

    It was foolish for this Man to say something so stupid about that young woman..... For someone who have a daughter of his own... he should have been more responsible in using his words wisely. Amazon must do the right thing and teach him a lesson... When your wrong for doing and saying something.. you must not receive a pat on the back...

    • See 1 previous
    • Shanelle Shanelle on Jan 21, 2023

      Your are so right dude I should read more books .....my Jamaican🇯🇲dialect🇯🇲🇯🇲 kicks in when righting English.. but your wrong for calling me an ignorant troll .....but who talks like that though ignorant troll ??? 🤣🤣🤣 Sounds lame as hell nerdy talk... The one kid who tries to say a curse word 🤣🤣🤣 🤓🤓🤓 nerd

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