Rick and Morty’s toxicity is our unescapable story of 2017

It is impossible to talk about entertainment and pop culture in 2017 without reflecting on the phenomenon – and toxicity – Rick and Morty.

Not his fault co-creator Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, who pleaded with fans on Twitter to stop their hostile antics and immaturity. Not a critic’s fault that praised the third season and most remembered Rick and Morty. That’s not even the fault of the majority of fans, many of whom voiced their embarrassment for being linked to a stricter reactionary group and causing a toxic stir.

Toxicity around the third season Rick and Morty come from two separate groups that at first sight do not seem to have anything in common. One group is targeting the new female author on Twitter, who blames them for “destroying” the version of Rick and Morty they care about. The second team, motivated by an aggravating compulsion to change their obsession with a joke in their favorite series into something more, raided the McDonald’s location across the United States, muttering part-time employees to search for limited edition Szechuan sauce.

Rick and Morty’s cultural identity is at a critical point in 2017. His long-time fans, who waited (somewhat impatiently) for over 18 months between the second and third seasons, watched the mainstream media brand Rick and Morty communities as blameworthy. We also observed as Elon Musk proclaimed his love for this series and other celebrities paid attention to his original story.

Beth and Rick in Rick and Morty season 3 episode 9.Adult Swim

But what we continue to return is the harassment that goes on in society and the disappointment of Rick and Morty’s creators. Harmon told Entertainment Weekly that “these buttons, who want to protect the content they think they have – and combine it with their need to be proud of something they have, which is often just their race or gender.” It was a sentiment he followed up a few weeks later, telling Polygon “I think if you talk to someone about whether something is annoying, it is a good indication that they are not watching TV properly.”

Harmon’s comments about Rick and Morty’s fans misunderstand what they see echoing for weeks. We wrote that the way Rick and Morty’s fans reacted to the Szechuan sauce disaster proves that it’s something to do “out of their love for a show that they think makes them look smart, or they feel justified in their loneliness.”

The parts of Rick and Morty’s identified fans have the same characteristics that Harmon and Roiland try to riff – ironically, human toxicity. Rick is probably the smartest man in the galaxy, but he is a negligent and emotional puncture with the problem of neglect and narcissistic tendencies. Inherent selfishness drives his actions, inability to care for others other than himself.

Rick is not an idol; he is our warning

Rick and Morty - Rick at McDonald’s drive-thruAdult Swim

The bad side of Rick’s character, however, came to define reactionary Rick and Morty conservative groups. The same group of people who manifest “be fair, you must have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty” memes. The disturbing similarities between Rick and his most devout supporters lurking beneath the surface during the first two seasons are now exhibited prominently.

Like the previous Fight Club group, this Rick and Morty fan group destroyed this series for many of us. It’s a shame, but not surprising. Here is the fan who sees Rick’s selfish and aggressive personality as the ideal male alpha; someone to aspire to be. He, in their eyes, is a god because of his intelligence and his ability to put his aspirations before others. When two authors Rick and Morty, Jessica Gao and Rachel Becker, were subjected to Rick and Morty’s threat, the most common complaints spewed made Rick more vulnerable and expressed the pain that caused his family. She was harassed, they said.

Rick and Morty’s subreddit almost exploded as people clashed with this ideal. Moderators do their best to address growing concerns among forum members that rampant poisoning has damaged the overall experience of the show. A moderator posts a set of guides to try and minimize harassment, noting “while we allow discussion of this topic, dirty campaigns against any individual will be removed. Repeated violations will result in temporary bans.”

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Although the most significant external story facing Rick and Morty’s community is a ridiculous reaction to the limited edition Szechuan sauce of McDonald’s, the internal narrative is a divided fandom. War rages on subreddit threads; Twitter groups launch attacks on each other and, of course, shows that creators Harmon and Roiland are trying to figure out what’s going on. Their contribution to television culture suddenly became an obsessive culture itself and, unfortunately, there was a group of people who did not understand it.

RICK NOT ONE IDOL; HE WARNING ours.

Rick and Morty cannot stand this year. As a show, this series has its best season in 2017. Our fandom is poured into everyday life. The failure of the Szechuan sauce represents our most embarrassing moments as fans in the eyes of the general public, but even that is not its lowest point.

Rick and Morty are primarily unlikely to be ignored this year because the reaction mentioned above group decided that their mission was to underestimate, harass and insult a group of authors guilty of merely doing their work. When harassment takes place in our community, it is essential that we show it and talk about it. Whether it’s in games, technology, politics or even fandom Rick and Morty, we owe it to those who are attacked and ourselves to start a conversation and try to stop it.

Gao, Becker and other female writers at Rick and Morty will still get unwanted tweets from people who have nothing better to do than support their favorite anti-problem person. But now, we can show them and remind them that verbal attacks launched both of us and harmony makers like Harmon and Roiland will not reach them.

We do not know when Rick and Morty will be back for the fourth season, but 2017 taught us how not to act while airborne. This year has been a learning lesson for all Rick and Morty fans; let’s leave it in the past as we head for 2018.