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March 30, 1989
Last Visit: 10 hours ago
Addicted to Rio de Janeiro
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Favorite visual artistNorman Rockwell; M.C. Escher; Roy Lichtenstein; Andy Warhol; Stephen Wiltshire; Bob Ross; S. Neil Fujita; Maitena Burundarena; Will Eisner; Scott Adams; Bill Watterson; Frank Miller; Charles Schulz; R. Crumb; Marjane Satrapi; Banksy; Jamie HewlettFavorite moviesBlade Runner; Midnight Cowboy; Brazil; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Apocalypse Now; Spirited Away; Akira; Toy Story; Babe; Das Boot; All About My Mother; The Matrix; Taxi Driver; Manhattan; Reservoir Dogs; The Wild Bunch; Lawrence of Arabia; The Big LebowskiFavorite TV showsMarried With Children; Spitting Image; Step by Step; Full House; South Park; Doug; Regular Show; Gravity Falls; Top Gear; Seinfeld; Oz; The Decalogue; Boston Public; Moonlighting; Will & Grace; Fraiser; El Chavo; Punky BrewsterFavorite bands / musical artistsRush; The Cure; Ramones; The Beach Boys; Vangelis; Run-DMC; The Church; ABBA; Thin Lizzy; The Doors; David Bowie; Pink Floyd; Led Zeppelin; 2Pac; Madness; Charles Mingus; Frank Zappa; Kraftwerk; Queen; Roxy Music; The Beatles; Pat Metheny Group; AC/DCFavorite booksThe Little Prince; Animal Farm; 1984; The Lord of The Rings; The Jungle; The Jungle Book; From Hell; Watchmen; Fight Club; Euclid's Elements; In Cold Blood; Sex, Drugs & Magick; The ExorcistFavorite writersGeorge Orwell; Rudyard Kipling; J.R.R. Tolkien; Anton Chekhov; Humberto Fontova; Truman Capote; Philip K. Dick; Eric Hobsbawm; Alan MooreFavorite gamesTeam Fortress 2; SimCity 4; Hotline Miami; Half-Life; Max Payne; GTA San Andreas; Limbo; Flight Simulator X; Borderlands 2; Forza Horizon 2; Need For Speed Underground 2; L.A. Noire; BioShock Infinite; Dead Space; Banjo-Tooie; Mirror's Edge; BrothersOther InterestsStuding economical and political subjects, drifting across my city, keeping up with my football team Flamengo, creating characters and screenplays.
Just a day ago, I leaned that Jeremy Clarkson – co-host in BBC’s hit series “Top Gear” – has been suspended for getting into a fracas with a producer. Always a controversial figure, the argument happened because after a filming day, he wanted a “juicy steak”, but the chef had gone home, and all he was left with was cold food. This leaded him to call the producer a "lazy Irish c*nt", and then punching him. So the charge here is both xenophobic insults and physical violence: that just fits Clarkson. His future in BBC is uncertain, as the channel also suspended the next three episodes of the season that were going to air. But things seem to be calming down: BBC knows of the massive popularity of “Top Gear”, and they know Jeremy’s importance to it. Without one member, the show would never be the same. Jeremy Clarkson has always been known for his aversion to the politically correct culture, employing all kinds of jokes and remarks, insulting everyone from every culture, and making light of the most shocking things. The news brought joy to several of his detractors, including - I kid you not - eco-feminists. However, fans of Clarkson’s unmeasured sharp-tongue have made a petition begging BBC to maintain the host. It has reached 660 thousand signatures, and even David Cameron himself has spoken on favour of his friend and “huge talent”.
Above: Jeremy proving his "huge talent" to piss people off.
While I think it’s stupid for us to be insulted with some non-PC humour (he was on his “final warming” with BBC), I think there’s been some sort of moral issue here. First of all, let me make sure that I’m a fan of “Top Gear”. Before being a factual show, it is a comedy parodying the manhood psyche, and Clarkson – with his rude, overly manly ways – is the figure of the trio that better represents this parody, while James May would be the professorial pedant "with no sense of direction", and Richard Hammond being the enthusiastic (or as Jeremy puts it, annoying) younger man of the trio. The Stig would be the mysterious fourth character, with a super-hero appeal among young audiences. This clash of personalities makes for a show more entertaining than most serials out there: the trio is a genuine dysfunctional family. However, my admiration for the show and its colourful members will not keep me from the fact Jeremy did something very wrong. Once again, BBC probably owes more to Jeremy than the inverse: it was him, along with Andy Wilman, who pitched the new format for the show in 2002, and they transformed a then serious, boring factual show in the verve of cancellation into a massive gold mine for the channel. But his importance doesn't mean he's untouchable, and he needs a punishment: this suspension seems quite fair. Other people however – including the Prime Minister himself – seem to put their bias in front of the facts. Even if there was no boxing involved, there was a heated argument with a producer, and that alone is too far. Imagine, my dear deviants, if in your job, you got into a heated argument with a superior to the point of calling him names. You would expect some sort of punishment, and this is exactly what happened with Jeremy.
However, fans can be complicated: sometimes, they do not reason with things. They defend their idols to the bitter end, no matter what they did. And a classic example of it was Chris Brown, after the accusation of hitting Rihanna. Many condemned his attitude, but there were fans – including young girls who should be getting a life lesson out of this event – who defended him, calling him a victim of the circumstances. One girl even declared Rihanna “hit her face in the door”, completely unable to accept the truth, all for the fantasy that the idol is always innocent. This has happened as well - to a more extreme example - with Augusto Pinochet: the tyrannical leader of Chile’s military dictatorship from the 70’s to the early 90's. As history revealed, the guy was a scumbag of enormous proportions, and when he died, there was a feeling that his death was a little too late. But in the event of his passing, many of his supporters started to deny his crimes against humanity: he just staged a coupé, for Christ’s sake! That was nothing! It was that or letting the evil, democratically elected left-wing government linger. He didn’t actually tortured and murdered dissidents in cold blood! And even if he did, the ends justify the means. You see, some admirers have to deny everything horrible that their idols did. That’s the secret: in the moment he didn’t do anything that is unambiguously bad, you can admire him without a backlash (sort of). If these wrong-doings are either denied or diminished (“Rihanna kinda deserved it!”), then the idol is not so wrong. THIS is the problem with blind idolism: it blinds you to the facts.
A long time ago, I talked about grown-ups and people in general (“A Bunch of Baby Blokes”) who don’t have the maturity to understand the world we’re living, incapable of realizing that different people possess different tastes or opinions. I don’t mind if someone hates “Top Gear”, but some people care a lot that older audiences like “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. They may accuse them of being childish (or as the internet calls it, “autistic”), but they are the ones being childish for not accepting other people’s tastes (or as the internet calls it, “dealing with it”). They just can’t ignore something that isn't prejudicing them and they don’t like, and yes: you can ignore something that is seemly everywhere, once it's not interfering in your life.
This matter of maturity is entirely consistent with blind idolism: some people can’t accept that their idols would do something wrong, for they lack the maturity (and this is the word I find appropriate for this situation) to realize people make mistakes, no matter who they are. And the most shocking part is that – well – some of them are not children at all. They’re far above their 30’s, and they still have that acritical mentality of “what I love is perfect and awesome”. This reached the point of insanity with the release of "The Dark Knight Rises", as any film critic that dared to criticize that film was received with death treats that literally changed the mentality of how permissive Rotten Tomatoes should be with its community. Reading about people going insane with opposing opinions to the point of death treats is no different than what ISIS does, and paraphrasing Clarkson himself on the "Top Gear America Special", this makes me wonder if people really started to mate with vegetables. It would be forgiveable if we were talking about 15-year-olds who wouldn't know better (the old - and valid - story of "I was young and stupid"), but several of them are far above their 20's. There was also the infamous case with Roman Polanski. That he is a hugely talented director, that is certain. But to all those who are not sure why he couldn't get his Oscar for Best Director for "The Pianist" in the 2003 Academy Awards, here's why: in 1977, he was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, and Polanski became wanted in the USA ever since. Now days, Hollywood has pretty much forgiven such hideous action. In fact, several A-list stars signed a petition for him to be released after he was arrested in Switzerland for his warrant in America. All those stars perceive Polanki's talent and importance to be bigger than what put him into this situation. Before they think about what he did, they're thinking about who he is. So they diminish - like I said - what he did. Oh, c'mon! He just assaulted a girl! And she was close enough to age of consent!
Now, I'm not saying that we should be intolerant with people who are famous for their slippery slopes: no-one here is saying that. Some celebrities do some very wrong things, like Polanski here. But others do some things so wonderful, and meaningful, that the things they did wrong look indeed insignificant close to what they did right. A example of this is Lance Armstrong. American hero, extraordinary cyclist... and a cheater. User of steroids for most of his career. Americans felt betrayed by such discovery, and the man was soon shamed in such a level Paris Hilton would never reach. But there's another side: Armstrong was a cancer survivor himself. That was part of his charm with Americans: his fight(s) against cancer... and his victories over it. Understanding he had the kind of money necessary to fight such ill, but others were not so fortunate, he created a ONG supporting the cure for juvenile cancer. He invested in it, and he used his fame - built on his cheating - to fund this cause. Maybe this was another tool Armstrong used to build his image of a real life superhero, a publicity stunt. But this publicity stunt paid off: the institute was a success, and many children were given the gift of life in the facing of losing it so soon. In front of the this, using steroids to win some cycling races feels utterly irrelevant. And I don't mean that because he's my idol: I don't even admire the man. But I recognize his good (that is, great) actions triumph over what he was doing rong: something bigger and more noble than winning races.
Let me return to the matter of Latin American dictatorship, and idolism has much more to do with politics than with pop culture and sports: Fidel Castro, a man I absolutely despise. An iron-handed dictator, he is nevertheless seem as a hero to hundreds of people around the world; usually by people who believe him to be a shiny example of left-wing politics. Because nothing is more pro-people than being an oppressive twat for decades, with dozens - and possibly hundreds - of political arrests. For sure he had some ideas about investing in education and sports, but to what cost? When I once confronted a girl I know about his atrocities, she simply rebutted by declaring “he didn’t kill anyone!”. You can’t get more childish than that. After all the testimony of survivors, after all the shocking stories, after all the horrors, this all can be shouted down with an euphoric “he didn’t kill anyone!”, from someone who’s never been there, or never bothered to get in touch with such stories, all in favour of her idol. Ignorance over facts can be voluntary, and it is much more warming than the cold truth. "History Will Absolve Me", he once said. Maybe, but not those who know the truth. Naturally, he is adored in Brazil, and by several other political figures who should know better.
And by the way, Mandela is another one that people adore without a second thought. I do not contest that he was a man in need to fight the Apartheid, but one thing people "forget" about - since this is not divulged like it should - is that Mandela didn't go to prison for 27 years simply for being black. No: there was a reason Margaret Thatcher called him a "terrorist". You see, Mandela was the co-founder of a group called Umkhonto we Sizwe, which was a Armed wing of the African National Congress. And they did some terrible things. Torture. Murder. In fact, Amnesty International refused to defend him, based on these grounds. Now, when you're fighting for your right to be free, sometimes you have to do some things that are legitimate, but morally reprehensible. However, what bugs me is that Mandela went to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and all those actions became forgotten, all for the sake of Mandela being transformed into a Gandhi-like figure. Again: I understand some of the actions of Mandela's group, like sabotage: it is no different than what we saw in "The Battle for Algiers", but I find rather sad that people forgot his means.
In one episode of "The Sopranos", "Christopher", the Italian-Americans of New Jersey couldn't accept the protest of Native Americans against discover Christopher Columbus in the Columbus Day. The Natives accused him of his crimes against their people, and the Italians couldn't accept their valid criticism: in the episode, they diminish Columbus' actions against Natives by saying he was - if I remember it well - a victim of his age. They can't celebrate their hero - as Tony Soprano so angrily called him in the episode - without clashing with the Natives' opinion. The thing that happened is that the Natives felt Columbus' crimes were ignored, and that he was seem by Americans as a hero. They felt their lost was unappreciated, and when you are in the minority side, this is truly hurtful.
I don’t believe all those 660 thousand people - and counting - that defend Clarkson have this mindset. But some people are unable to realize their idols can do bad things, or that not everyone has to love them. It's not bad to look up to someone. It's bad when we believe them to be unambiguously perfect.
Well, it seems BBC is dead serious in sacking Clarkson. It is a petty that he has to go, just now that I was catching up with the series. But I understand: Clarkson crossed a line, maybe his finishing line. He did more than some insults and one punch. I just hope whoever is coming to substitute him can be as good and fun to watch.