Richard Hammond’s comments about homosexuality reveal a worrying underbelly of prejudice that still pervades popular culture
“I don’t eat ice cream […] It’s something to do with being straight.” You would be forgiven for thinking that this was another of Jeremy Clarkson’s untimely quips. Unfortunately, this time it was none other than his petite partner-in-crime Richard Hammond who hit the headlines. The casual anti-gay slur on a recent episode of the duo’s new Amazon Prime show, The Grand Tour, set the Twittersphere ablaze. Hammond argued that he refrains from the dessert to avoid being mistaken for a homosexual.
Good God, imagine that. Someone thinking that you’re… gay. Forget murder, slander, robbery, or assault. I think we can all agree that we would take any of those over the dreaded accusation of same-sex attraction. Imagine it: a world full of men loving men, basking in the glory of a 99 (perhaps even with flakes — scandalous!) An army of homosexuals stampeding through Solero-ridden streets, showering any who dare confront them with storms of technicoloured sprinkles. Unthinkable. Thank Christ for Richard Hammond pointing this out before it was too late!
Upon Clarkson insisting on a further explanation, Hammond said that men eating ice cream is “a bit, you know”. Yes Richard, thanks to your revolutionary epiphany now I do know. What would the world be without the wisdom of Richard Hammond?
In all seriousness, what was he thinking? He might as well have stood up and announced: “My name is Richard Hammond and I’m a homophobe.” In what universe did Hammond think that it was acceptable to say that men eating ice cream is a sure-fire sign that they’re gay? More to the point, in what stratosphere did he think it was okay to insinuate that being gay was a bad thing? As soon as the troublesome trio got kicked off the BBC, after that punch-up with Clarkson and an unfortunate producer, they should have realised that maybe it was time to reevaluate their ways; that maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to be a bigoted buffoon to get your face on the telly.
Adrift from any consideration for moral obligations, the trio may be renowned for talking so much out of their backsides that one cannot distinguish their lips from their anus. This is a sad fact. For all they know — heaven forbid — there could be a gay person watching the show. They might even be eating an ice cream! Was it really worth the potential alienation of homosexual viewers and definite alienation of the entire gay community for a few cheap laughs for presenters that are (let’s face it) past their peak? What this demonstrates is that not only Hammond, but also those who laughed along with him, still think it’s okay to make homophobic comments as an ordinary component of everyday conversation.
A spokesman for LGBT equality charity Stonewall swiftly conjured a statement after the Hammond’s ignorance went viral. They stated, “To hear this sort of language on television is extremely disappointing and sends the wrong message to young people.”
Furthermore, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It is a perverse world when an everyday pleasure like ice cream becomes the butt of homophobic innuendo. That Richard Hammond thinks he needs to boast his heterosexuality is weird […] His pandering to prejudice is bad enough but the audience applause makes it worse. It shows that we still have some way to go to end bigoted banter.” The phrase “bigoted banter” seems to ring true even more of late, in light of the now infamous “locker room talk” that none other than the President Elect of the United States, Donald Trump, used to excuse his previous boasts about sexually assaulting women.
So why are some people still living under the illusion that underhand comments such as these are normal? Dare I say, even, acceptable? It’s interesting to consider that in the cases of both Hammond and Trump the comments were made by men who have not associated with any of the recognised liberation groups. It’s all fun and games to hurl insults at minorities when you have never experienced that kind of discrimination yourself. It seems a smither of empathy wouldn’t have gone amiss from either of the men in question.
Such a clear example of ignorant juvenility draws the question: what is to be done? Whilst the aforementioned statements from the LGBT community and human rights campaigners did make valid points, it would seem that one way to solve the issue is to fight fire with fire. In fact, that’s just what several Hammond-haters did. Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years & Years, tweeted, “Excuse me whilst I gag on my cornetto”.
Another angered tweeter directly mocked the man himself, stating: “@RichardHammond HELLO I HAVE BEEN EATING ICE CREAM FOR YEARS AND I’M STILL HETEROSEXUAL WHAT I AM DOING WRONG PLEASE HELP”. The appalled reaction of thousands across social media suggests there is hope still in combatting the heinous hatred that Hammond demonstrated.
Richard Hammond is yet to comment on the uproar he created, but hopefully the swathe of opposition to his ridiculous remarks will make him see the error of his ways. Until then, the world shall wait with bated breath to see if Richard Hammond will confess that he’s a homophobe. It’s alright, Richard, sweetie. The first step is admitting that you have a problem.