South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are well-known for their hilarious and often sharply pointed jokes about cultural and social issues, but now they have issued a rare apology for one of them: they mockery of Al Gore, ManBearPig.
During the long-running Comedy Central show’s tenth season back in 2006 episode “ManBearPig”, the series took a swing at Al Gore and climate change. In the episode, the show’s take on the former Vice President warns the kids about “the single biggest threat” to the planet, the titular ManBearPig. The character was meant to be a stand in for the issue of climate change as, timing-wise, Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was set to debut just a month later. For many, the idea of the fictional Gore’s ManBearPig being fake was a suggesting that the issues of climate change were fake, too.
Now, Stone and Parker are walking that back in the show’s latest episode, “Time to Get Cereal”. In the episode, ManBearPig shows up and kills several South Park residents. Now that the threat has hit home for the kids, they track Gore down to tell him that he was right after all and want his help something that Gore isn’t necessarily down with. He tells the kids “oh, is it inconvenient now?” and then tells them plainly that they had a chance to deal with things but chose not to and now they’re on their own — perhaps a nod to the sobering “Losing Earth” article from the New York Times in August that suggests a missed change at stopping climate change in the 1990s.
In the episode, Gore ultimately gets the kids to apologize for not taking him seriously a dozen years ago. They even go so far as to tell him that the world would be a better place if Gore had become president. Finally taken seriously, Gore agrees to help and while the episode continues with its special brand of insanity — in this case, Gore summons Satan for help taking on ManBearPig — the apology is the centerpiece. It’s particularly noteworthy considering that it appears to be organic in nature, meaning that the apology wasn’t prompted by anything other than Stone and Parker feeling like they needed to do it.
Apologizing for the Al Gore/ManBearPig joke and, thus, arguably acknowledging the reality of climate change is just the latest issue South Park has taken on this season. Only six episodes into Season 22, the show has already taken on the Catholic Church, school shootings, Brett Kavanaugh, Roseanne Barr, Black Panther, and even The Simpsons. In the latter, the show took shots at its long time animated rival’s controversy over the character Apu with the episode “The Problem with a Poo”. That episode, which saw a racist Mr. Hankey driven out of South Park to Springfield where he and his racist ways are welcomed with open arms, closed with a black screen bearing the hashtag “#cancelthesimpsons”.
New episodes of South Park air on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.
What did you think about South Park‘s apology to Al Gore? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.