Manbearpig: Half Man, Half Bear, Half Pig, but All Global Warming? South Park is a popular animated comedy series written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. While the episodes of South Park are always humorous on the surface, each show usually has a deeper, much more profound meaning and moral. One episode of South Park entitled Manbearpig, named after the monster in the episode, has a particularly potent deeper meaning. On the surface, the episode pokes fun at monster stories, politics, and specifically Al Gore. Deeper down, however, this monster story can be read as a national allegory alluding to the dangers of global warming, the problems with the politics behind global warming, and the eventual doom we will all face
if we do nothing about it. The story of South Park is centered around four fourth graders, Eric Cartman,
Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, and Kenny McCormick, who attend South Park Elementary School in South Park, Colorado. While much of the humor in South Park is scatological in nature, the show is well known for its political satire. That is, “no matter how nasty and scatological [South Park] gets, it’s never just dumb and dumber. Besides all the bathroom humor, the show is built on clever, equal-opportunity satire” (Johnson-Woods 25).
Jeffery Weinstock asserts in his book Taking South Park Seriously that South Park “intrepidly wades into the American ideological fray” (14). The episode Manbearpig utilizes a simple monster story to address an important ideological issue facing America. Much like stories about werewolves arose from fears regarding feudal society, and how the story of Godzilla arose from fears about nuclear warfare, the story of Manbearpig arises from issue of global warming.
The episode Manbearpig begins with an animated version of former vice president Al Gore (referred to simply as Al Gore throughout the rest of the paper) addressing the student body of South Park Elementary School. Al Gore tells the student body that he is there to warn them about the single biggest threat to human existence, a horrible monster named Manbearpig.
Al Gore further goes on to describe the monster’s appearance. He states that Manbearpig “is half man, half bear, and half pig” (South Park). This pokes fun at the typical monster in literature. The impossible ratio of man, bear, and pig shows how monsters can be considered scary regardless of how ridiculous they may actually be when analyzed literally. While Manbearpig is not necessarily intended to be scary to the audience of South Park, it is intended to be scary to the students by Al Gore. In fact, the attributes of Manbearpig are similar to those of many different monsters throughout literature.
Manbearpig is a creature that is a mixture of man and animal. This is a characteristic attributable to many monsters in literature. For example, the werewolf addresses this same fear about crossing line between man and animal. Man-animal
hybrid monsters are scary...