BY: CASSANDRA VINOGRAD
LONDON – Mexico’s ambassador to Britain demanded an apology from the presenters of the popular BBC television program “Top Gear,” expressing outrage over remarks characterizing Mexicans as lazy and oafish.
Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza complained in a letter released Tuesday that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May used what he described as bigoted stereotypes against Mexicans in a Sunday broadcast.
“It is utterly incomprehensible and unacceptable that the premiere broadcaster should allow three of its presenters to display their bigotry and ignorance by mocking the people and culture of our country with such vehemence,” the ambassador wrote in the letter.
The remarks came in a segment in which 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.
Clarkson went on to joke that being Mexican would be “brilliant” because then he could sleep all day.
The letter said the trio’s “outrageous, vulgar” insults reinforce negative stereotypes and inflame racism against Mexicans.
The car-culture show’s unscripted format — and large personalities — are no stranger to controversy. Clarkson once apologized for making unsavory jokes about truck drivers killing prostitutes and separately took heat for calling Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown a “one-eyed Scottish idiot.”
The show’s mix of outrageous humor and auto worship has made “Top Gear” a British institution, broadcast in more than 100 countries. The episode in question was viewed by more than 6 million viewers, according to the BBC.
The BBC received the letter and plans to respond to the ambassador directly. Representatives for Hammond, Clarkson and May could not immediately be reached for comment.
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