‘Rick and Morty’ fans reveal toxic side of fandom

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Fans can be the worst sometimes.

Not the most shocking statement, I know, but true nonetheless. Some fans of “Rick and Morty” have been doing a great disservice to the show that they love. Let me preface this by saying I’m still making my way through the show. So, you may think I’m not fully equipped to wade into this discussion at this time, and you may be right. Yet, here we are.

This is not the first time in history that a fan base has been annoying or have shown themselves to be terrible people, and it certainly won’t be the last. Most of the time in these situations, you can just avoid going to these places and threads on the internet and that’d be that. But sometimes, it’s unavoidable.

About a week and a half ago, I came across a post on Twitter, a screenshot someone took that laid down “rules” for a Facebook group called “Real Ricks.” The first “rule” (written, presumably, by “Admin Rick”) stated, in earnest: “NO SJW [Social Justice Warrior] TRASH. Us Ricks value free speech and we don’t let anything offend us.” It went on to say, “No posting about SJW stuff (anti-racism, gender equality, accepting transgendered people, ‘there are more than two genders,’ etc).” These abhorrent statements were un-ironically followed up by the second rule, which was, “Only intellectual posts is [sic] tolerated. People with the intelligence of Rick do not concern themselves with petty issues.” Some types of people who were welcomed: “MRAs (Mens Rights Activists) and the Alt-right.”

This type of corroded mentality and toxic nonsense culminated when these types of extremist fans harassed, doxxed and threatened two of the show’s women writers on Twitter, specifically for being women. It got so bad that, in an interview with “Entertainment Weekly,” co-creator Dan Harmon had to publicly denounce these “knobs” and their actions as “disgusting” and express how he “loathes these people.” Samesies, man.

For some reason, I can’t get the picture out of my head of “Admin Rick” writing those group rules down while sitting in a bean bag, smugly smiling to himself, and cranking up the Rush.

To be perfectly clear, though: these are outliers; a very loud and vocal minority who sometimes engage in antagonizing behavior. Most fans of the show clearly aren’t like this at all. But this incident has affected some people’s ability to fully appreciate the show. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are fans of “Rick and Morty” who think some people aren’t smart enough to properly appreciate the show. It’s a super pretentious notion that, to be fair, many other shows’ fans have displayed.

But even a cursory Google search of these incidents will lead to various social media posts and articles detailing how some of these ardent die-hards liken themselves to Rick. These “real” fans who truly get the show think they’re like Rick – a world-weary, snarky know-it-all who lives by his own rules. They think they’re special and want the world to know it.

By all accounts, Rick’s an anti-hero, a character who, while fascinating and complex, isn’t necessarily someone you’d want to model your life around, much in the same way you shouldn’t really want to emulate other fictional anti-heroes (Tony Soprano or Walter White, for instance). These are probably the same individuals who, I might venture, watched “Breaking Bad” and saw a little bit of themselves in Heisenberg, the same people who “rooted” for Walt even to the bitter end.

It’s not really fair to dislike or hate a show based off of the most annoying or the absolute worst contingent of its fans; it’s very much akin to the whole “separate the art from the artist” idea. Having said that, I’ve done it before (“Lost” springs to mind). For some, it can be hard to watch something because the cult surrounding it is so strong. A backlash emerges, and it becomes difficult to watch something without feeling that lingering resentment toward the fans. It’s not fair, or really rational, but I’d venture to say it does happen to the best of us.

I’m willing to bet a lot of people have some form of pop culture that they’ve rejected for these reasons. People still saying “Niiice!” like Borat, while annoying and ill-advised, doesn’t make me appreciate “Borat,” the film, any less, but it has for others. Same thing with the super annoying fans quoting from “Napoleon Dynamite,” or “Game of Thrones” (guilty), or “Star Wars” (super guilty).

If it’s not “Rick and Morty,” it’ll be some other show or movie. I know people (friends, acquaintances, etc.) and have read about people refusing to watch the show or saying that it’s soured their opinion on it. I may not necessarily agree with them, but I can’t say I really blame them for feeling that way, either.