Following the furore over Top Gear’s recent comments about Mexico and then Albania, we take a look at countries around the world which have taken offence to affronts at their expense.
The Mexican ambassador complained to the BBC after Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May suggested that a Mexican sports car reflected the national characteristics of Mexico and would be “lazy, feckless, flatulent, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat”. Clarkson also mocked Mexican cuisine, describing the food as “refried sick”. Why don’t you just say what you think Jeremy?
Clarkson’s comments on Mexico weren’t the first time he has enraged another nation. In 2007 he was criticised by the Malaysian government for his review of the Malaysian made Perodua Kelisa car. Clarkson described the vehicle as “unimaginative junk, with no soul, no flair, and no passion” before attacking it with a sledgehammer and then blowing it up.
When Borat hit the big screens in 2006, the Kazakhstani government weren’t exactly overjoyed about being portrayed as a nation of inbred, anti-Semitic simpletons. However, although Borat’s ‘documentary’ could be in no way described as flattering (or indeed, accurate), the film sparked huge interest in Kazakhstan, with the country seeing increased numbers of tourist visits following the film’s release and a higher international profile.
The BBC recently had to apologise to Japan after the Japanese embassy complained about jokes on comedy quiz show QI regarding a man who survived both atomic bomb drops. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima when it was bombed on 6th August 1945 and then travelled to Nagasaki by train, which was bombed on the 9th August. The QI incident provoked such strong feelings that plans for Stephen Fry (host of the show) to film part of a new documentary in Japan have now been shelved.
In 2005, Jacques Chirac was reported to have cracked jokes about the British at a meeting with German and Russian leaders who then joined in the ‘dissing’ session. The French PM was quoted as saying “The only thing [the British] have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease.” However, we should perhaps take some comfort in the fact that Chirac spared British cuisine from the title of ‘World’s Worst Food’; that unwanted accolade went to Finland.