Top Gear and the Cult of Personality.

At this point you have formed an opinion on the newest form Top Gear has taken. While it has been panned by the public and critics alike, I think it can teach us a thing or two, especially us trying to make our way into, or grow, our audience. So TGP was the first time a lot of us car enthusiast found a program of any sort, whether on TV or the Internet, that truly got the kinda goofy nature of the enthusiasts.

For easy of Understanding Top Gears last iteration with Clarkson, Hammond, & May will be called Top Gear Prime, or TGP. The new irritation with those other guys and Chris Harris will be call New Top Gear or NTG.
Lastly the history channel version will be called American Top Gear or ATG.

We like cars, but more then that we like having fun with our cars and our friends. I think most of us got a lot of inspiration to do fun stuff with out cars from TGP. As we watched, enjoyed and learned from the three funny looking guys with weird accents. We began to identify with them.

“If we were Top Gear who would you be?” My friends used to joke and prod when we would go on a car adventure. For the record I’m tall, loud, opinionated and have a hammer collection so obviously James May. It had a deeper meaning then I think a lot realize. We all have relationships with our fellow car enthusiast, and most of the car people I and you probably know end up identifying with a member of TGP. They became more then a part of our routine they became people we enjoyed spending time with.

I think this trend of identifying with people instead of shows, is fairly new in the media space, best shown in the “internet celebrities”. You find a personality that you like and stick with them. For me that was Philip DeFranco and the guys over at Rooster Teeth. I enjoyed their stuff and as both groups expanded and grew, I too followed them into the new productions, shows, podcast and more. I knew then that I could trust that the new product would probably be something I would enjoy. It took time for them to get this level of trust from the fans. Just like the TGP guys took time to grow our trust.

This is why I know people are going to complain when “The Grand Tour” comes out. Even if it isn’t a “blow your socks off moment”, the consensus will be positive, unlike the first reviews of ATG & NTG – which will seem like bias to many I’m sure. It will be too, but maybe not for the reason people think. These three funny talking chaps have done so much; road trips, challenges, super car reviews. They’ve even done a beach invasion and beat the Germans! So we accept a certain amount of failure when they experiment. They are allowed to try new things and just be okay because we know the personalities will carry them though.

I think this is why people who work on the Internet and are trying to make a place for themselves (myself included) need to work out a their voice or point of view. It doesn’t need to be all that unique either. It just needs to be genuine. If there is one thing nobody likes its being lied to, about what’s going on. Just like the forced comradely between the NTG host. There’s a reason it feels forced and stilted – because it is. They need to take the time and effort to make “getting to know you” challenges.

In the end, whether it’s Top Gear Prime ending or your favorite Internet blog’s future being called into question, don’t dread the future. If you really like the content they produce, you’ll find a way to follow them on to the next bigger and better thing, and continue to enjoy their point of view. In this chaotic mix, you just might find a new voice you enjoy just as much.

About Ike

Ike is co-host of the Untitled Car Show ( ) he has owned 2 Dodge Challengers; a Volvo C30, a V70XC, a V70R, 740; a derelict Porsche 924, a Ford Fiesta ST and a Saturn Ion . He is a new father and loves driving and autocrossing. He can jerry rig with the best of them, and he wrote his bio in third person. He also has 2 dogs, 2 cats and is a crazy person some say!

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