Jeremey Clarkson has made a career out of putting his foot in his mouth. This weekend, the bombastic car enthusiast was pulling his size 11 out of it again.
The often-controversial host of Grand Tour on Amazon Prime made—to put it lightly—a clunky reference to Game Of Thrones in his latest column for The Sun, in which he also slammed Meghan Markle. Social media exploded with criticism for Clarkson and he made a rare apology for the comment.
Clarkson, who was fired from BBC’s Top Gear (a show he created) for berating a crew member, has long been an auto columnist for The Sun and other papers in the United Kingdom.
Occasionally, he’s also written opinion columns on other topics, many of which don’t go over too well with the public. Recently, he wrote a review of sorts of Netflix’s new docu-series, Harry & Meghan, and it’s no exception. To the surprise of no one, he doesn’t like Markle, and he took the opportunity to slam her as much as he could.
“I hate [Meghan] on a cellular level,” Clarkson wrote in his column. Believe it or not, this sentence was just the beginning of the columnist’s rant. It was the next paragraph that shocked and angered readers.
“At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her.”
It’s easy to see why people are so upset. Clarkson evokes a horrifying image straight out of twisted misogynist fantasy. It’s a kind of punishment for a Middle Ages morality we left behind centuries ago.
It’s also a reference to the infamous scene in Game Of Thrones in which Cersei Lannister is forced to walk naked along the streets of King’s Landing while Septa Unella walks behind her, ringing a bell and chanting “shame.” In the scene, Cersei is pelted with everything from fruit to, yes, excrement.
The scene was widely condemned at the time for its shock value, but it was meant to fill audiences with a sense of dread and horror.
So here we are again bringing up all the triggers it set off, but this time in reference to the very real Meghan Markle, not a fictional TV character. While Clarkson might have meant it as a joke, it’s really not a scene we should ever be poking fun at, especially in regard to a living, breathing person—no matter how triggered we may be by them.
Clarkson took to Twitter to apologize after getting rightfully raked over the coals. His apology seemed heartfelt, and he did take full responsibility for his words, though many don’t think it went far enough.
Though he owned up to the mistake and admitted the reference to Game Of Thrones was “clumsy” and that he was “horrified” to have hurt people with it, he never actually said he was “sorry.”
For many, his apology wasn’t good enough without it. One person responded, “[Clarkson’s comments are] beyond the limits of acceptability and this isn’t sufficient as an ‘apology’,” and others called him a “terrible person” and said his Tweet “did not cut it” as a way of saying he was sorry.
His own daughter even called him out, saying: “I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything my dad wrote about Meghan Markle.”
Sadly, it seems like the hurtful trope of the woman-as-shrew isn’t going away anytime soon, which is a real shame. Making reference to a TV show that is as notorious for its violence against women as it is for its CGI dragons is no way to treat Markle or anyone else.