Commentary # 8 – Top Gear as Reality TV

Just watched Top Gear “Best of ’14-’15” on BBCAmerica. The big deal through the hour was Jeremy Clarkson and James May racing to save Richard Hammond from a mountain top in the Canadian Rockies, both men driving American pickup trucks. Spectacular, but total phony baloney. All three had camera crews, so how could Richard be in any danger of starving when he could share the crew’s food off screen? Of course within the fiction of the show he was mostly worried about being cold, but this is Top Gear, not Naked and Afraid where the crew cannot help; Hammond is a seasoned member of the team, and woe be to the cameraman unwilling to pass over a sleeping bag and a hot cuppa. Of course you never saw any living accommodations for the crew, but the crew did exist, so where did they sleep if not in the comfort of a large tent?
As for the race, I was irritated by the fiction that Clarkson and May were alone except for each other. Yes, the comments to a cameraman in the passenger seat of the truck could have been addressed to an installed camera not operated by a man. But what happens if the equipment goes on the fritz? I believe a man was there to operate and maintain the front seat camera. And the out-of-the-vehicle shots of the race! There were not only shots of the trucks whistling along the highways, but also shots of the trucks struggling up  the mountain trails, so crew members were standing outside the trucks to get those shots.
There were even helicopter shots, so the whole thing was carefully choreographed.

Anita was upset about reality show content a while back, but I just hate the entire idea of “Reality” shows that are anything but real. The scenery here was great, and Hammond’s snit was funny, but the whole things was a play. Reality? Oh hell, no!

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