TV host Piers Morgan says fellow Brit and TV host Jeremy Clarkson is “just like pretty much every other 50-something in life; angst-ridden from damaged relationships, grieving loved ones, irritated by work-related issues, and battling inner demons.”
That may be true, but is it an excuse for bad behavior? Clarkson is (was) the host of the immensely popular UK TV series Top Gear. He’s currently on suspension for allegedly punching a producer over a fight about the lack of hot food on the set.
This may sound like a ridiculous reason to hit a person. . . actually, it is a ridiculous reason to hit a person. . . but I’ve worked on many movie sets and I’ve seen cast and crew throw fits when they see cold sandwiches instead of a hot lunch. So, it’s a thing there and here.
At this point, we don’t know if the story is true, partially true or blown out of proportion. What we do know is that this isn’t Clarkson’s first bout of bad behavior but after every incident, even this one, he’s managed to keep his reputation in tact. Yes, in-spite of it all, the fans still love him, celebrities are speaking up for him and even Prime Minister David Cameron said;
“Because he is a talent and he does amuse and entertain so many people including my children, who would be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air, I hope this can be sorted out.”
By “sorted out”, I hope he means Clarkson will get into anger management classes.
But if there was any hope of the BBC deciding in his favor, Clarkson pretty much took that away when he delivered an expletive-laced speech at a charity auction last week. Clarkson told the crowd that he was about to be fired and it surprised him because he never saw that coming.
A video of the speech went viral, leaving Clarkson to again apologize for his behavior. This time, he said it was just a joke.
“By being brief, controversial and a bit sweary I woke the room up and the auction prize I was offering – one last lap of the Top Gear test track – raised £100,000.”
What’s amazing is that with the world coming down around his ears, his people are still letting him attend public events and write a column for the news. The BBC has taken care of this issue on their end, canceling previously scheduled Top Gear tour events until a final decision has been made.
At this point, it seems that the BBC is on the losing end either way. If they sack their churlish but beloved TV star, it’s going to cost them a fortune in lost tour revenue and advertising revenue. They’ve also pulled the final episodes of the series; so that’s money down the drain. What’s bigger than the financial loss, is the loss of goodwill from the Top Gear fans and the crew who will be out of work until they reconfigure the series.
If they allow Clarkson to come back to work, that’s setting a terrible precedent for both the host and any other celebrities who decide to take their frustrations out on their co-workers.
And then there’s the issue of firing a person who has a serious mental or substance abuse problem. I don’t know if this is the case, but if it is, does the BBC have a moral obligation to get their star into treatment?
Fired or not, it looks like Jeremy Clarkson is going to be the victor in this war. He has the public behind him and I’m sure there are producers ready to offer him a new gig. Maybe even one that plays into his inflammatory behavior.
That’s the funny thing about show business, it’s the one industry where a bad reputation can result in more offers and a bigger paycheck.