Twitter reacts to Richard Hammond claims that eating ice cream is gay
James R | On 27, Dec 2016
On Friday 23rd December, Richard Hammond decided to say that ice cream was gay. He said this on an episode of The Grand Tour, Amazon’s motoring series, which has based at least part of its appeal on giving the former Top Gear hosts loads of money and the purported freedom to do whatever or say whatever they want. For fans, it was a promise of more Top Gear with added Top Gear. For Amazon, it was a way to win over a horde of loyal Top Gear fans and, should they get some publicity from all the outrageous things that would be said along the way, well, bully for them.
And so, six episodes into the show’s first season, people woke up one day to discover that Richard Hammond, The Grand Tour and Top Gear were all trending on Twitter. Why? Because Richard Hammond decided to say that ice cream was gay.
The remarks were made in response to Clarkson talking about the white interior of a Rolls Royce. “The problem is that in one of those you couldn’t enjoy a chocolate Magnum ice cream,” the presenter commented. “It’s all right, I don’t eat ice cream,” came Hammond’s reply. “It’s something to do with being straight.”
Jeremy Clarkson seemed slightly taken aback by this bewildering comment – a telltale sign. “What do you mean?” he asked. “You’re saying all children are homosexual?”
Hammond grinned, like a bloke who’s pleased he’s just said that ice cream is gay.
“Ice cream is a bit, you know,” he continued, “but a grown man eating an ice cream, you know, it’s a bit… it’s that way rather than that way.”
“Welcome to the inside of Hammond’s head,” said Clarkson to camera, as he and James May tried to move the subject along.
It is genuinely hard to fathom what on earth was going on in Hammond’s head. Was it meant to be an ironic joke about how much of a homophobic idiot Hammond is? If so, he looks like a homophobic idiot. It is a non-ironic joke by a homophobic man, whose masculinity is so insecure he feels threatened by Mr. Whippy? If so, he looks like a homophobic idiot. Either way, it was still unfunny.
At the end of 2016, Hammond’s comments could genuinely be harmful for people watching, or for people those viewers know, as one Twitter user pointed out:
.@RichardHammond Can you imagine all the poor closeted teenagers watching The Grand Tour with their dads, and then you saying that?
— Silly Old Daniel (@sillyolddaniel) December 27, 2016
Social media, meanwhile, took Hammond to task for his remarks, both angrily and amusingly.
So, Richard Hammond, how come the manliest man ever was named after an ice cream? pic.twitter.com/uvSQSDupcA
— Rick Burin (@rickburin) December 27, 2016
.@RichardHammond HELLO I HAVE BEEN EATING ICE CREAM FOR YEARS AND I'M STILL HETEROSEXUAL WHAT I AM DOING WRONG PLEASE HELP
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) December 27, 2016
Richard Hammond's worst nightmare. pic.twitter.com/nx4pO9cW7I
— Chris Hewitt (@ChrisHewitt) December 27, 2016
Here's a photograph of Richard Hammond cruising around for gay men to service. pic.twitter.com/zWlnyD9nLm
— Payton Quinn (@PaytonQuinn) December 27, 2016
This isn’t the first time Hammond has tried to court controversy since The Grand Tour launched on Amazon. Last episode, he made a joke about Rolf Harris. After years of being Clarkson’s sidekick, chucking at Jeremy’s offensive comments while acting embarrassed, Hammond now seems to be attempting to position himself as the edgy one of the bunch – something that just comes across as unfunny and lazy. Is it an attempt to build a personal brand, complete with maverick goatee? A chance to impress Clarkson, the long-standing head of the trio? Or is it a scripted gag to go with the overall show’s oh-so-controversial, uncut appearance?
Certainly, it’s nothing new for the Top Gear trio, who have a history of generating scandalous media headlines for their outrageous comments. What’s most pathetic about Hammond’s outburst, perhaps, is that nobody really noticed his remarks until four days after the programme had been released – something that suggests far fewer viewers are watching The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video, compared to the BBC in Top Gear’s heyday. Calling him out on his comments is correct, even if they’re just poorly-thought-through throwaway remarks that he hasn’t considered the effects of, but giving him a wave of publicity off the back of it is also playing into his hands.
What makes this particular incident sad, too, is that the same episode of The Grand Tour featured James May delivering a documentary about the history of Le Mans and the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari – a piece that was actually intelligent, insightful and interesting. Imagine, if you will, a world where immature, pathetic comments weren’t needed to give Richard Hammond and The Grand Tour some sense of positive reinforcement, where the middle-aged hosts could #banter without needing to shock and offend people (or invent frankly nonsensical stereotypes about gay people), where the show’s occasional other merits could be appreciated as a result, and where poor Richard Hammond could have a 99 flake without questioning his sexuality? If that’s too much to ask for in 2016, screw it, I’m having a Cornetto.