South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker apologized to Al Gore in an episode aimed at Global Warming. Though they're not traditionally apologists when it comes to the sort of material they feature in the long-running animated series, this particular episode was a rare exception.
Ever since South Park debuted in 1997, the topics of discussion that its central characters tackle never shy away from crossing lines, mocking various social and political issues, or establishing an unapologetically crude overall aesthetic. As Eric, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny carry through with their daily lives in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, they face a plethora of topical issues in over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek ways. In past episodes, they've specifically focused on former US Vice President Al Gore who is otherwise best known for his work as an environmentalist, as well as his two documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Now, however, Stone and Parker have taken a step back from their typically flippant behavior and issued an apology to Gore in an episode of South Park's twenty-second season.
According to Salon, the show's creators offered an apology for the way South Park handled the issue of Global Warming in the past. In the episode, Stan is led to believe that the fictitious creature known as "ManBearPig" (a creature that the show's interpretation of Gore refers to in an earlier episode from 2006) may be real. So, in an effort to prevent ManBearPig from causing any more deaths, Stan seeks out Gore for help. Though he's willing to lend them his assistance, his sole condition is that they apologize for not taking the threat seriously from the get-go. Desperate for help, the boys apologize. In fact, they go so far as to admit that the world would have been better off had Gore become President.
In two earlier episodes of South Park in which Gore was included as a guest character, he warns other characters about the dangerous ManBearPig, a thinly veiled allegory for Global Warming. And, though Gore has revealed in the past that he is aware that the first two episodes exist, there has been no word yet on whether he has seen the latest episode or is aware of South Park's apology.
The series has taken comedic jabs at everything from 9/11 conspiracies to abortion, but there is often an underlying attempt in South Park to relay some semblance of a positive message. That's not to say that Parker and Stone don't go well out of their way to push buttons, but their attempt to apologize within the show itself proves that their creativity is hardly void of morals. In fact, it's simply one of their more blatant attempts to make a direct social or political statement under the guise of something outlandish (in this case, a creature called ManBearPig).
Season 22 of South Park airs on Wednesdays at 10pm EST on Comedy Central.