There was a great tweet a few days ago about Rick and Morty fans, and how obnoxious they can be. Here, I'll show it to you:
Everyone hates when jokes are explained to them, but I'm going to explain this one out anyway. The gist of this quip (aided by Twitter's new and beta-tested 280-character-count—see, it's not all bad!) is that Rick and Morty fans are constantly high on their own supply when it comes to their love for and understanding of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's hilarious, brilliantly inventive, and frequently emotionally devastating Adult Swim cartoon. If you don't understand its brilliance? Well, you might as well be a numbskull—this is a show for people who, if not exactly are Albert Einstein, at the very least consider themselves comparable.
This, of course, is nonsense—nonsense that we've consulted with experts on, even. But you don't need to be an expert to recognize when fandom is toxic; sometimes, all you need to do is take a walk down the street. That's what I did a few months ago, when there was a Rick and Morty pop-up merch installation outside of bar-chain Barcade's Williamsburg outpost. My fiancée and I had only half an intention of buying something (an intention quickly dashed when we saw the merch line, wrapping several times around the block), but mostly we wanted to see the giant Rick head set up in front of the pop-up. Can you blame us? We love the show! (I want to reiterate this, for any Rick and Morty fan who reads on and is angered by the contents going forward: I love the show. Got it? Good.)
We lingered near the pop-up for a few minutes, essentially people-watching at some of the more creative costumes and gear that fans were decked out in for the occasion. One middle-aged man walked along the sidewalk, trying to find where the line began while wearing a cape of sorts and brandishing an extremely real-looking and expensive-seeming lightsaber replica.
"Is that a real lightsaber, bro?" A backward-hatted male—in his mid 20s probably—asked with derision as his friends chuckled. "Excuse me?" The man with the lightsaber stopped for a second, not quite understanding that he was quickly becoming the butt of a joke.
"Cool lightsaber—is that a real one, bro?" The hatted-male reiterated, the sarcastic meanness of his comment barely hidden. "Yes, it's a replica," the man replied, with a level of sweet sincerity that broke my heart a little bit. "COOOOOOOOOOOL," the hat man let out of his maw, the chuckles from his friends now apparent in the open air. The man with the lightsaber picked up the pace and exited the scene quickly, and so did we.
The following is obvious, but I feel compelled to state it anyway: This is not a way to treat people! It's a mean-spirited way to live your life, and recent events online (of course) have shown that mean-spiritedness runs through a certain sect of Rick and Morty fans' veins. Last week, Harmon was compelled to give a statement to Entertainment Weekly about recent efforts to doxx and harass the show's female writers under the assumption that women have been given writing credits on Rick and Morty's recent season instead of the male writers that certain fans believe are more essential to the show's strengths. (You can catch up on this whole mess on this Reddit thread.)
"Part of it is a testosterone-based subculture patting themselves on the back for trolling these women," Harmon told EW. "Because to the extent that you get can get a girl to shriek about a frog you've proven girls are girly and there's no crime in assaulting her with a frog because it's all in the name of proving something. I think it's all disgusting... I've made no bones about the fact that I loathe these people. It fucking sucks."
I'm not exactly rushing to anoint Harmon as Our Savior Male Feminist Ally (Lord knows he's got his own issues with women), but he's right—it does suck! It's this kind of behavior that projects an image of fandom—both of Rick and Morty and in general—as an exclusionary (and often overwhelmingly male) communal exercise that prioritizes snobbery and pretentiousness over genuine appreciation.
It also makes you appreciate the cultural obsession in question less: As of this writing, I'm currently three episodes behind on the current season of Rick and Morty, a show I used to once consider appointment viewing. I wonder why.
Follow Larry Fitzmaurice on Twitter.