It’s safe to say that Ed Sheeran is not a fan of South Park.
In a recent interview with Slam Radio, Sheeran said that a 2005 episode of the Comedy Central animated series “ruined” his life. The red-haired British musician explained that while making fun of “gingers” was common in his home country, it wasn’t until that South Park episode that ginger-mocking became a thing in the United States.
“Having red hair in England was always a thing that people took the p-ss out of you for,” said Sheeran. “But it was never something in America. People never knew what a ginger was in America. That episode of South Park f-cking ruined my life.”
The installment Sheeran was referring to was South Park season 9, episode 11, titled Ginger Kids. Written and directed by Trey Parker, the controversial episode sees Cartman railing against redheads in a class presentation, claiming that they have a disease called “Gingervitus.” According to Cartman, Gingervitus curses “ginger kids” with “very light skin, red hair and freckles,” and “occurs because ginger kids have no souls.”
When Cartman’s presentation causes actual prejudice against gingers, Stan and Kyle use skin bleach, dye, and tattoos to transform Cartman into a ginger kid while he’s sleeping. Soon after that, Cartman grows sick and tired of being ridiculed for his fake red hair, light skin, and freckles, so much so that he rallies all the Ginger kids everywhere and create a “Ginger Separatist Movement,” which, unfortunately, leads to Ginger kids kidnapping non-Gingers and preparing them for sacrifice.
Sheeran recalled in the same interview that everyone loved his red hair when he first came to the United States. But that changed when the South Park episode came out.
“I was going to America, and everyone was like, ‘I love your hair dude.’ And I was like ‘Oh my god, people like my hair?’” he said. “And then I remember that episode coming out and that was just it worldwide for the rest of my life.”
Sheeran isn’t the only person to take issue with the episode. Back in 2008, the episode supposedly inspired the infamous National Kick a Ginger Day, an event that started out on Facebook. With a target date of November 20th, the event attracted many members from Canada and the United States and resulted in the assault of several red-haired students. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated the incident as a hate crime. Fast-forward to 2015, Massachusetts police also investigated plans by a group of students to attack a red-haired student on the same date.
Though South Park season 24 is still in development, fans of the series have been treated to two specials and two Paramount+ films since its season 23 ended its 10-episode run in December 2019. As announced last August, South Park was renewed through 2027.