By Matthew Rozsa
8 November 2018

(Salon) – In the new South Park episode "Time To Get Cereal," creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone do something particularly brave — they admit that the premise of one of their most famous previous episodes was plumb wrong.

"Time To Get Cereal" is essentially a sequel to the 2006 South Park episode "ManBearPig," which depicted former Vice President Al Gore as an attention-seeking loser who tried to convince the world of the existence of a fictional monster that was "half man, half bear, and half pig" in order to feel better about losing the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000. The undeniable subtext, of course, was that man-made climate change — you know, the dire existential threat that the real Gore was warning everyone about — was a hoax, and that Gore himself was a joke.

Trust me, I'm not reading into this. South Park had previously mocked the idea of man-made climate change in the 2005 episode "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" and had taken smaller pot shots at the idea on subsequent occasions. And considering that Parker and Stone seem to take pride in being iconoclasts who will rip on the left and right with equal glee, one could have made the case that individuals who applaud them for ridiculing Republicans, Christian conservatives, and corrupt politicians shouldn't get upset when they took a swipe at a liberal target.

Except, of course, for the fact that man-made global warming isn't some left-wing talking point. It is a scientific fact, one that needs to be acknowledged and addressed through intelligent policies to avoid worldwide catastrophe. Denying its reality, particularly when you are a popular comedy show with millions of viewers who interpret your satire as representing a deeper truth, was extremely irresponsible. […]

Al Gore, wearing his Nobel Prize medal, with the cast of South Park, in Season 22, Episode 6, “Time to Get Cereal”. Graphic: Comedy Central

The best scene in the episode, though, doesn't include Gore at all. It occurs in a restaurant where an insufferably smug patron — one who we quickly realize is intended as a stand-in for man-made global warming deniers everywhere — lectures his wife about how ManBearPig couldn't possibly be real. On cue, of course, ManBearPig enters the restaurant and starts killing all of the diners. Instead of admitting that the death and destruction he sees all around him proves that he was wrong, the man maintains his arrogant demeanor but now insists that this simply means it's too late to admit that ManBearPig actually exists. And besides, there's nothing to be done about it anyway, so why point out that he was wrong? And what about the Chinese? And of course … CHOMP! [more]

“South Park” apologizes to Al Gore and admits it was wrong about global warming

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