Would anyone like to make a sporting bet that Germaine Greer is kicking herself for unloading her vitriol on Steve Irwin’s barely-cold corpse when, if she had waited a matter of days, she could have laid into the critically injured body of Richard Hammond? Considering the macho tenor of his show Top Gear, she could have dressed such an attack up as feminism and so contributed something besides her recent call to pederasty to the movement.
What a crop of boys being boys and tragedy ensuing we’ve been having for television lately. The wildly popular show Hammond co-hosted for the BBC, Top Gear is great television.
For a feminist who doesn’t drive or have a television, it was a miracle of production genius that the twenty-seven objectified-Pirelli-Girl featuring minutes of a Top Gear I saw at a friend’s house meant anything to me, let alone entertained me. But it assuredly did. In some television contexts, long shots of beautifully pneumatic women interspersed with car assembly/racing/breathless semi-sexual description make sense.
Steve Irwin, unwatchable as I found him and hard as I laughed at South Park’s parody of his animal anal manipulations, also made television that made sense. Thousands of viewers developed a new relationship with the grosser, more forbidding animal species, which probably did conservation efforts some good.
Top Gear, if anything, makes more sense. Exciting wet-dream cars and suggestions of the macho culture that goes along with them are interspersed with demonstrations of middle-class market models. The combination brings in a wide audience including thousands of self-respecting women who get useful consumer information and are amused in the process.
Despite Irwin and Hammond’s shows making sense and being helpful, good television, tragedy has struck twice in almost as many weeks. How? Who do we blame for what has happened to these men?
Media parasites like Greer crawled out of the woodwork to point the finger at the body when Irwin died and more will probably come out now. Irwin, the rant will run, died out of his own ambitious yobbishness, but at least he had a cause. Hammond, however, wasn’t helping anything except his own pocketbook, and in the process encouraged unsafe driving, dismissive representations of women — well, I’ll let the people who want to make such arguments think up more themselves. But if Hammond survives the accident, he will live to survive such censure.