The British funnyman was stunned to see hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May make the rude comments during a programme broadcast in the U.K. last month (Jan11).
During a section of the show, the presenters discussed a Mexican sports car and Hammond told viewers, “Why would you want a Mexican car? Because cars reflect national characteristics, don’t they? Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
Clarkson added, “That’s why we won’t get any complaints about this, because at the Mexican embassy the ambassador’s going to be sitting there with a remote control like this (pretending to slump, snoring in a chair).”
Mexican ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora was infuriated by the jibes, and sent a scathing letter of complaint to bosses at the BBC, prompting network chiefs to apologise for the remarks.
However, Coogan – who has appeared as a guest on the show three times – is disappointed by the trio’s behaviour, insisting they “carry responsibility” by hosting the programme.
In a piece for Britain’s The Observer, Coogan writes, “I normally remain below the parapet when these frenetic arguments about comedy and taste break out. But this time, I’ve had enough of the regular defence you tend to hear – the tired line that it’s ‘just a laugh’, a bit of ‘harmless fun’.
“I can tell you from my own experience, living in the U.S., Mexicans work themselves to the bone doing all the dirty thankless jobs that the white middle-class natives won’t do.
“The lads (guys) have this strange notion that if they are being offensive it bestows on them a kind of anti-establishment aura of coolness; in fact, like their leather jackets and jeans, it is uber-conservative (which isn’t cool).
“Big viewing figures don’t give you impunity – they carry responsibility. Start showing some.”