George's problem is that the culture he wants us to be part of is entirely negative. In contrast to this cultural pessimism, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May celebrate human achievements - however shallowly - and appear to risk their lives for their passions, while Monbiot considers us to be a destructive plague on the planet… Clarkson bumbles his own way into making history by doing dangerous things like driving to the North Pole, while Monbiot twitches behind his curtains, tutting about what other people are getting up to.
Mr Monbiot’s indignant curtain twitching continues in today’s Guardian.
Nowhere is more nonsense spoken about [speed cameras] than on the BBC. Its Top Gear series has become a sort of looking-glass Crimewatch in which the presenters enlist the public to help criminals foil the police. There are tips on how to avoid prosecution and endless suggestions that speed cameras are useless or counter-productive. The tone was set in 2002 when the team demonstrated that you could beat the cameras by driving past them at 170mph… How, while BBC editors are sacked for misnaming the Blue Peter cat, does Top Gear remain on air?
Humourless exasperation is, of course, a Monbiot trademark and I can’t offhand recall a column that hasn’t called for something, somewhere to be banned, pulled, dramatically reduced or taken off air and horsewhipped. Setting aside some comically po-faced accusations of criminal incitement, it’s worth noting that, once again, the earnest Mr Monbiot struggles to conceive why an enormously popular programme of which he disapproves is allowed to remain on air.
It’s telling that Monbiot doesn’t understand Top Gear is, in part, popular precisely because it mocks pretentious fatalism and po-faced urges to control - urges that Monbiot and much of his readership now represent. The Guardian’s foremost eco-warrior is outraged that the BBC should devote one hour a week to a programme that celebrates human ingenuity and individual daring, albeit brashly and with abandon. It offends him, as if it were some kind of indecent throwback to a more primitive age - hence an absurd comparison with the Black & White Minstrel Show. It clearly isn’t enough for Monbiot that his own worldview is reflected widely across the media, not least by the BBC. The fact that a single hour of airtime should defy his prejudices is, it seems, an intolerable irritation. But such are the awful burdens of the uptight puritan.