A lot of digressions to make a relatively minor point...

One of the few programs I watch regularly on television is South Park. Generally speaking, Trey and Matt, the guys behind the show, put together an entertaining program that rightly pokes fun at many who deserve to be mocked.

The fact that they target people on both the left and the right makes them think--or, at least, it makes many of their fans think--that they go after everybody. But any observant regular viewer will soon see they are fairly typical libertarians.

(Perhaps you've heard of "South Park Republicans," the amoral twenty-somethings who can be found attending YAF meetings or going to see Ann "No Nickname Can Adequately Capture My Odiousness" Coulter speak live.)

So just tonight, I watched the end of the great episode about the Mormons, where they tell the story of Joseph Smith (a story Mormons actually know) to appropriate musical accompaniment. It really makes the Mormons out to be the morons that most of them probably are.

But the new episode thereafter featured Al Gore, propounding a ridiculous theory about a "manbearpig" that posed a global threat. Even worse, in his ill-conceived endeavors to stop the manbearpig, Gore almost kills the quartet of youngsters for which the show is known, and then praises himself for saving the world from a terrible threat. Essentially, this is in response to Gore's upcoming film about global warming--which I highly recommend, having seen the live presentation on which it is based.

You know, I don't understand how these two feel perfectly fine making fun of the illogic of religious fanatics, but then turn around and deny something around which I scientific consensus has been established. Penn & Teller did the same thing on their show Bullshit. It threw me for a real loop when I saw that episode at a time when I was not well-versed with the science.

(If this weren't bad enough, Comedy Central has the gall of putting the cesspool that is Mind of Mencia between South Park and The Daily Show.

"Look at me, I'm Carlos Mencia! Der-der-der! I think it's okay to make fun of people based on simplistic stereotypes since I'm not (quite) white! Black people steal things! Yeah, I went there! Gay guys are effeminate! Can you believe how un-PC I am?! Mexicans are lazy! Whoa, I am so outrageous and in your face! Der-der-der!")

Anyway, it's bad enough that these people adopt pro-corporate policies and embrace the myth (recently challenged by a new study) that hard work is all it takes to make it big (and the corollary that poor people are just lazy).

(Really, this last deserves its own post. Something like 80% of Americans believe in this rags-to-riches American dream bullshit and it probably contributes to people's reluctance to fund social programs for the needy. As the article points out, race is also a factor here, if that isn't obvious.)

But why do they feel a need to deny global warming? Is there any reason why a robust economy can't be more ecologically responsible? Isn't there money to be made in alternative energy sources? Why trust oil companies over the scientific community? Why, Matt and Trey? Why, Penn and Teller? Why!?

A number of recent episodes have had similar themes: there was one parodying The Day After Tomorrow, another blasting smug hybrid car owners, and I'm sure others aren't hard to find. Really, though, it's hard to take issue with people like these because you look like you have no sense of humor ("So it's okay to make fun of Mel Gibson, George Bush, and the Mormons, but once they target Al Gore, you're all up in arms! You humorless hypocrite!").

There is no debate here. It may seem closed-minded to say that and global warming talk may sound like the kind of fear-mongering that Bush is condemned for, but there's virtually no disagreement on this by the people who know best: we are in for a world of pain and it's only going to get worse if we ignore it. It may be An Inconvenient Truth, but it's a truth nonetheless.

1 comment:

anotherpanacea said...

As Steve puts it (and he'll be sore at me for stealing his thunder), it may be that peak oil supplies the ultimate critique of global warming, since there's not enough oil left to destroy the environment. Not, you know, a happy thought, but since peak oil has its own fairly uncontestable scientific backing (here, coming from the dismal science) I thought I'd inject it.