The most depressing thing about the return of Top Gear is the fact that now my social media feeds are FULL of people complaining about how rubbish Top Gear is. I don’t watch the programme anymore, which is all you need to know. For a petrolhead to tell you he doesn’t like watching a programme about cars suggests that there is a problem. Judging by my Facebook/Twitter/forum experiences this morning, I’m not alone.
But why do people feel the need to keep going on about why they don’t like it? People have been bemoaning the stupidity and the lack of true petrolhead content for years. I’m sure the people who make it know that some people don’t like it, and I’m sure they don’t care. They’re certainly not sitting in front of Facebook thinking to themselves “we’re letting people down here. Let’s do it properly again.”
The funny thing is, it replicates the world of cars more closely than you might think. In the good old days, Top Gear was very factual, perhaps boringly so. But, it contained information that people who liked cars were interested in, just as cars were once designed for people who were actually interested in them. As car design progressed, there was a dumbing down so that non-car people could cope with them. Engines became buried under plastic covers, computers took over more controls. The driving experience was sanitised so anyone could drive a car easily. No double-declutching, no manually adjusting the mixture for a cold start, no individuality. These days, a Citroen feels like a Kia, which feels like a Ford, which feels like a Vauxhall, which feels like a Toyota etc. Cars are designed for the masses, and the masses don’t like things they don’t understand.
Which must be why Top Gear has become more of an entertainment show than a car for people who like cars. Clearly, there are a lot more people who like slapstick than there are who like a gearstick.
That’s life. It has happened. Complaining about it will not change anything. Instead, you should be pleased that there are still people in the world producing excellent video footage of cars. Like this.