Its cardinal paragraph reads :
It ’ s a prove that teaches its consultation to become lazy and complacent, that praises them for being uncritically accepting of their own biases, and that provides them with an endless buffet of thought-terminating cliches desirable for shutting down all manner of challenges to their comfort zones .
The gloss itself is hard to find an claim date for — the earliest reference to it that I can find is from 2015 — but its general tenor speaks to a shifting understanding of South Park : What was once a playfulness, snarky put-down of America ’ s worst tendencies immediately reads to many as a television receiver series that taught an entire generation of kids that it ’ sulfur dazed to care about anything, let alone engage with it politically.
And nothing underlines the gossip ’ s sentiment better than its note of “ ManBearPig, ” the topic of a 2006 South Park episode of the same name, from the show ’ s 10th season, in the very beginning line .
Released in the buildup to the premiere of An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore-featuring documentary on the devastating potential of climate change to remake the expression of the planet, “ ManBearPig ” is a very 2006 take on the subject, with Gore enlisting the kids of South Park to hunt through some caves in search of the clearly made-up animal. alternatively of capturing ManBearPig, Gore merely makes things worse, and the episode subtly presents the argumentation that Gore is a hypocrite about climate change because he doesn ’ t live in a yurt or something .
now, 12 years after “ ManBearPig, ” South Park has abruptly revisited the national, in something of a storm reversion. In the picture ’ second latest episode, “ Time to Get Cereal ” ( which aired November 7 ) ManBearPig is real, ManBearPig is angry, and everybody ’ s a little sad they made thus much fun of Al Gore. It ’ s good the latest half-apology made by the appearance in an earned run average when its “ manage is for losers ” ethos feels emptier and emptier .
Al Gore isn’t exactly vindicated by “Time to Get Cereal,” but the episode is quite clear that climate change is a real, massive problem
The single most indicate segment in “ Time to Get Cereal ” involves a bragger dandy eating at a Red Lobster with his wife and child. The wife is insistent that ManBearPig is a big problem, that it ’ second going to keep ravaging the countryside if something isn ’ thymine done. The conserve says, first, that it ’ south made-up, and, well, if it is real, then what can we possibly do about it now ? How can we know the Chinese will help us solve the problem, huh ?
And all the while, ManBearPig — who ’ s smashed through a window into the restaurant — devours other diners, until he last devours the conserve ampere well. notably, this succession of footage is besides the sequence that replays over the episode ’ s closing credits — which creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone seem to reserve for moments of the episode they find particularly curious or pointed or both .
This is deoxyadenosine monophosphate close to an instantaneously acknowledgment of ManBearPig as a stand-in for climate change as the episode gets. As such, it ’ s easy to interpret the view as a balmy repudiation of the 2006 sequence. The arguments the husband makes before he gets eaten are the sorts of arguments a South Park hero might have made 12 years ago. They boil down to, “ Why should I be forced to care ? I don ’ triiodothyronine know that other people will. ” But in the boldness of something that will cause massive death and destruction, those arguments pale equitable a morsel .
This rebuff graveness besides extends to how the sequence treats Gore, whom South Park still sees as a number to mock, but for a very different rationality. In “ Time to Get Cereal, ” he ’ randomness become impossible, because he was veracious about the terror of ManBearPig, when cipher else would listen. therefore before he ’ ll help the kids send ManBearPig back to hell — for that is where the beast issues from — he forces them to admit he was right and apologize. ( It should be noted that Parker ’ s spin on Gore is one of his funny impressions. )
But the joke hera international relations and security network ’ thyroxine on Gore ’ s smugness, or his incorrectness, or anything like that. It ’ s a joke about what happens when you last convince people you were right wholly along, tied if it takes more than a decade. Gore is placid cranky and snivel, but by the sequence ’ randomness logic, he has a right to be — and that ’ s the chief difference between “ Time to Get Cereal ” and “ ManBearPig. ”
now, South Park is always gon na South Park. For one thing, “ Time to Get Cereal ” openly ends on a cliffhanger. It teases the approaching November 14 episode “ Nobody Got Cereal ? ” by putting the picture ’ second main characters in imprison with ManBearPig on the idle, so it ’ s possible the show will reverse at least some of what happened in “ Time to Get Cereal. ”
For another, most of the episodes in this young 22nd season ( which began at the conclusion of September ) have been excuses for the kids to go on eldritch journeys. There might be political plots sprinkled in aboard those journeys, but the point is that the kids are having adventures, not that they ’ ra learning important lessons about America along the room .
And that ’ s all in keeping with what the appearance has been doing since the election of Donald Trump. South Park wrote off Trump as a pathetic clown when he was running for president of the united states, portraying him not via Trump himself, but via South Park teacher Mr. Garrison, who became Trump-esque. It ’ second as if the series international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine sure how to live in a worldly concern that governs itself by South Park logic .
Yet that ’ s the larger riddle South Park finds itself in. For a television display driven by the same rationale as an internet troll — that provoking a reaction from those who care about literally anything is funnier than anything else on the face of the planet — it ’ s besides become a read that increasingly seems uneasy about living in a world where the trolls have their way .
The longer animated TV shows stay on the air, the more out of step they become with the times they live in
The animate situation comedy can, theoretically, run constantly. The alone thing stopping it from doing sol is the fact that it might finally become unprofitable, because ratings will inevitably slip well. But considering that The Simpsons debuted ( as a situation comedy ) in December 1989 and will turn 30 in a fiddling over a year, it obviously takes quite a lot for a hit animated situation comedy to become unprofitable .
A show like The Simpsons or South Park ( which debuted in 1997 ) or Family Guy ( 1999 ) is in truth lone limited by how long everybody involved wants to keep making it. That ’ s specially true for South Park, which is much more drive by the whims of Parker and Stone than their long-running animated peers. But it ’ s not as though the two couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate hand off the show to a new creative team if they ever wanted to. ( note : This will never happen. )
careless, the thing about animated television shows is that they don ’ t actually change, while the world around them does. If you ’ re familiar with The Simpsons ’ beginnings, to watch an episode of the appearance in 2018 is to be instantaneously amused by how it was once the most revolutionist prove on television receiver. And though South Park maintains some degree of its bad-boy cred, a holocene crusade for the show hinged on how babies born when it debuted are now old enough to be in college .
And all these shows are enmeshed in modes of storytelling that seemed entertaining when they premiered but now feel a little out of date. The Simpsons made a spatter by pulling apart the tropes and ideas that television had been built on for decades, taking a sledgehammer to the structure of the class situation comedy. nowadays it ’ s just another mental hospital .
family Guy leaned into the sorts of ironically racist and sexist humor that was popular in the late ’ 90s, part of a wave of entertainment that lampooned what its creators possibly saw as liberal overreach. nowadays it feels ever more like the “ ironically ” never modified “ racist and sexist ” american samoa sharply as the show might have liked .
But no series has been as affected by the passage of time as South Park. On one hand, the series has been able to pivot more successfully than others, thanks to Parker and Stone ’ s continue interest in every aspect of its output. On the other, it has never quite shed its status as television receiver ’ s most libertarian usher, built atop the ethos that you shouldn ’ thyroxine bother caring about what other people do, unless they try to make you do something for the greater good, in which case, you should make playfulness of them.
In the 2010s, South Park has occasionally grappled with this chemical element of its bequest. A solid season wondered if possibly people advocating for political correctness aren ’ t wholly wrong ( just largely wrong ). And in a series of episodes that aired before and after the 2016 election, the testify ended up turning Hillary Clinton into a more sympathetic name than it typically let national politicians be. ( It apparently only did therefore because she lost, but there was something about tender about the way the show portrayed her after the election, a stigmatize contrast from her anterior appearances. )
And so far South Park is silent trapped, to some degree, by having launched in 1997, amid a thunder american economy, where the issues that got Americans most worked up besides often amounted to trivial talk through one’s hat. even if you disagreed with South Park ’ mho cardinal “ caring is unintelligent ” ethos, it was a set easier to let the indicate have its fun back then, without worrying about its cultural impact .
now even Parker and Stone seem to wonder sometimes what South Park ’ s bequest might turn out to be. And what ’ s weirdly intriguing about episodes like “ Time to Get Cereal ” is the gamble to watch the two of them look at who they were, who they are, and who they might become. They might still want to mock Al Gore, but in 2018, they know that doing so shouldn ’ metric ton invalidate everything he says .