'The Cutting Edge of Cocking About': Top Gear, Automobility and Law

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This paper argues that the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) television series Top Gear (2002-) presents a significant opportunity to think about automobility, masculinity and law. As a show about cars and car culture it can be seen, and dismissed, as a gratuitous celebration of 'combustion masculinity.' However, its irony, humour and nostalgia combine to highlight that this way of being male lies in the past. Focusing on Top Gear series 13 (June-August 2009) it is argued that the essence of combustion masculinity lies not only in risk and competition but law. However, the show goes further. In its excessive performance of combustion masculinity it engages in gentle critique. In the post-industrial era where the motor vehicle's cultural status is declining Top Gear is itself a vehicle allowing combustion masculinity to be overtaken by less risky, less violent and more lawful ways of being male.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/17521483.7.1.1

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • Law and Humanities is a peer-reviewed journal, providing a for for scholarly discourse within the arts and humanities around the subject of law. For this purpose, the arts and humanities disciplines are taken to include literature, history (including history of art), philosophy, theology, classics and the whole spectrum of performance and representational arts. The remit of the journal does not extend to consideration of the laws that regulate practical aspects of the arts and humanities (such as the law of intellectual property). Law and Humanities is principally concerned to engage with those aspects of human experience which are not empirically quantifiable or scientifically predictable.
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