Rick and Morty is an animated science fiction show on Adult Swim. It has a lot of craft to it, and enjoys a rabid fanbase as a result. It doesn’t grab me the way it seems to grab so many people, but as a writer, I want to acknowledge up front that the show has a lot of funny stuff in it.
Because it’s so popular, I have watched every episode. Even if I don’t dig it, it’s making a lot of people who like science fiction laugh. As a humorous SciFi/Fantasy author, I should try to understand why it works.
My opinion is that the show works for its audience because it takes place in a fantasy world where smart is the most important thing you can be. I can see why that would land with kids, especially college kids. They’re probably the smartest people in our culture. But “smart” is not “wise.”
I am so smart! S M R T!
Being smart feels great, especially when you’re right. But as we get older, it starts to become apparent to us that sometimes you can be smart and right and still an asshole. That’s wisdom. It sucks. But then again, here’s some more wisdom: A tv show is not required to have, or be, a moral compass. All it has to do is be interesting.
In real life Rick and Morty culture, though, being the smartest is being the best. In this article, the author condemns Rick and Morty fans for thinking they’re so smart, but also congratulates himself for really, truly understanding the show.
And if they understood the point of the show so far — that living only for yourself is destructive and selfish no matter how smart you are — they would be ashamed at how they’re acting.
Uh, point proven, I guess?
In the show, the main character goes on a rant about some discontinued Mulan-themed McDonald’s sauce that he likes. The show’s fanbase seized on this moment and began clamoring for McDonald’s to make the sauce. McDonald’s, sensing a marketing opportunity, announced that they would indeed make the sauce. They sent a couple of packets to select locations.
Next thing you know, hundreds of Rick and Morty fans are lined up at their local McDonald’s, screaming and abusing the employees because they didn’t get their sauce. In LA, the cops had to disperse the crowds.
Some locations saw crowds of fans scream-chanting at employees.
That’s the sort of fun time it’s only possible to have if you do not stop even for a microsecond to consider the feelings of the fellow humans dealing with your actions.
The real victim here: poor, sad, megarich megacorp McDonald’s
The main thread of the news reports of the situation appears to be that McDonald’s botched a golden marketing opportunity by not knowing the size of the Rick & Morty fanbase. The Washington Post even chose to fault McDonald’s.
Guys, I just want to remind you of a couple of things. First of all, McDonald’s is not your friend. They’re not a cool uncle who has the keys to the popsicles. They’re a megacorp whose job is to make money. If they seemed like they were fans of the thing you’re a fan of, it was for money.
It doesn’t seem to be bothering Rick and Morty fans that regardless of how much sauce is or isn’t handed out, McDonald’s is going to win here.
Being smart is not the most important thing in the world. Being caring is. Smart is recognizing your wants and needs and figuring out how to meet them. Caring is recognizing other people’s wants and needs. If smart you doesn’t get a dipping sauce it is looking for, caring you should stop smart you from screaming at someone about it.