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Calm Down, James Martin – a Fireman Mascot Doesn't Have a Queer Agenda

The worst take of the week: James Martin, celebrity chef, protesting a fire service mascot change by pivoting to 'otter'.

by NEO
13 September 2019, 3:05pm

Image credit: StickPNG, screenshot via ITV's This Morning

Welcome to The Worst Take of the Week – a weekly column in which NEO, AKA @MULLET_FAN NEO, pits the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other.

What's the story? Fireman Sam was removed as a mascot of a fire department for not being inclusive enough.

Reasonable take: I get the need for more inclusive mascots for a young audience. However, it’s quite funny it’s Fireman Sam getting the sack.

Brain rot: “Fireman Sam is no longer the mascot of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service? I now identify as an Otter” – James Martin.

Fireman Sam has been “cancelled”. That’s according to angry people online after Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service axed the character as brigade mascot for being “outdated” and not “inclusive enough”. For the unfamiliar, Fireman Sam is an animated children's series about a fireman called Sam, his fellow firefighters and other residents in a fictional Welsh rural village that’s been a mainstay on TV screens across the globe since it was created and first aired S4C in 1987.

The decision was made to no longer include Fireman Sam in promotional material following complaints by staff and members of the public, according to chief fire officer Les Britzman, who confirmed the character would be replaced with fire extinguisher-shaped mascots called Freddy, Filbert and Penelope.

Britzman said the service already struggled to recruit women and "there's been a lot of research that says that images that young people have about what careers they want to do are formed when they are about four or five. If you are promoting that image we might be stopping people wanting to apply for the fire service 20 years down the line”.

The decision has since been backed by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which said Fireman Sam did not reflect attempts to diversify the fire service. FBU executive council member Ben Selby said: "We're not bothered about Fireman Sam. We're bothered by the subconscious message the term fireman has created as an issue in our recruitment”.

Speaking to the BBC, Dave Jones, the creator of Fireman Sam, joined the debate and said when he joined the fire brigade on his 18th birthday he'd have been “slapped down” by colleagues if he called himself a "firefighter". Apparently they would have said : “you are not a superhero, you are just a fireman”. He then added adding that “we now live in a very PC world”.

I personally think Britain is currently closer to PC World, the shit shop, where computers are inescapable, every professional opinion is wrong and everyone’s sweat hums of ham sandwich than a Politically Correct World. But, predictably, right-wing media personalities like Piers Morgan took the fictional character getting his marching orders over fears he could put women off joining simply by being a “white male” far worse than any of the 11,000 firefighters who’ve literally lost their jobs due to cuts made by Tories since 2010. Morgan called on Lincolnshire fire chief Brtizman to “resign” if he was so concerned by inclusivity, then said he "identified as a penguin".

Unsurprisingly this also spurred on some other middle-aged Fireman Sam loyalists we had no idea existed to explode into a raging inferno that even Sam and the team would struggle to contain. Notably TV chef, James Martin – best known for Saturday Kitchen and now Saturday Morning with James Martin – instantly saw red.

“Right that’s it,” he tweeted, “Fireman Sam is the last straw I’m done with this pc bollocks and 100 identities being taught. In a last stand to this outrageous madness I now wish to be known as an Otter. I like other Otters and when you get bored of this crap in the world join me under water with other Otters, both male and female, and call enough and an end to this madness." He then promptly changing his display picture to an otter to further emphasise his point.

To be clear, "fair enough" is the reasonable take here. Attempting to turn a single fire service removing a cultural icon from three decades ago into a rod with which to beat trans people, is simply startling.

As many LGBQT+ people on Twitter have pointed out, in declaring himself an “otter” in an attempt to make some terrible joke about identity politics, Martin also inadvertently outed himself as a sub bottom. An “otter”, as defined by the Urban Dictionary’s top ranked definition, is “a gay man who is very hairy all over his body, but is smaller in frame and weighs considerably less than a bear”. Although many have agreed that Martin is, indeed, more bear than otter.

There have been many previous signs about Martin be being a total cunt. He once called cyclists who go past his country residence “city-boy ponces in fluorescent Spider-Man outfits”. In the same article, which he was presumably paid fo write, he also confessed to sneaking up on a cyclist in a Tesla before honking and driving them off the road, describing "the look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror".

Why can’t our mainstream TV stars just enjoy being rich, unaffected cunts? Why do someone else’s life choices that are very unlikely to conflict with yours in some way your business? As much as we all want to know what that stupid fucking chef off Ready, Steady, Cook who used to wear a bandana thinks about gender pronouns, I think we can do without. Not mention it being bizarre that someone who is basically a professional Yorkshireman would rant about identity politics. If you watched a re-run of Saturday Kitchen and had to drink a pint of lager every time that twat referenced he’s from North Riding, you’d have to have your stomach pumped before you they got to patter vacuum “omelette challenge” segment.

The only thing I wished James Martin identified as is not the dead-eyed bore that so many famous chefs seem to be. I genuinely think studies need to done about why celebrity cooks in the UK have the same energy as Gambino family hitmen.

@MULLET_FAN_NEO