A pernicious trend has emerged among Rick and Morty fandom, and we need to murder the shit out of it as soon as humanly possible.
Luckily, a similar pattern already unfolded and infected David Foster Wallace’s misunderstood masterwork Infinite Jest. Which is a bummer for Wallace’s legacy, but at least it gives us a clear idea exactly what the enemy from within looks like and how to snuff it out before it does any more damage to our favorite animated series.
Quick explainer: Of the comparative minority of readers who finished Wallace’s 1,079-page tome since its 1996 publication, some of them assumed their appreciation for a difficult yet brilliant novel meant that they themselves must be brilliant. But if a person reads Infinite Jest, all it actually means about that person is they are capable of getting through a long book. In and of itself, the action of reading a book doesn’t make a person impressive, or even the slightest bit extra interesting.
Today, the discourse surrounding a monumental, era-defining work of literature mostly involves making fun of its smug douchebag fans, and we have no one to blame for this except for those same fans for being total smug douchebags deserving of mockery.
As Vice astutely reports and others have observed, shitty Rick and Morty fans have placed Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s sci-fi sitcom magnum opus in the same peril. As a grown man who stood in line for three hours to purchase a Rick doll and a Morty doll I could’ve bought near-instantly at the comic book store down the street because the Rickmobile makes them special, I refuse to stand idly by and let this happen.
Let’s all get this perfectly clear right now. Liking Rick and Morty doesn’t make anybody smart. It just means they like a cartoon. That’s all.
To illustrate this point, Vice asked a pair of professional smart people if a high degree of scientific or philosophical enlightenment was necessary to truly “get” the interdimensional adventures of Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith. Their answers can be summarized as a resounding “nah.”
“The point of the show is its accessibility,” says Liverpool University professor of science and engineering Dr. Pragya Agarwal. “Many of the scientific ideas are inaccurate, and so not really based in science.”
Meanwhile, Peg O’Connor, chair of the Department of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College, speculated that Rick and Morty’s popularity owes as much to its art as anybody’s writing. Taking it a step further, she figures when it comes to existential matters explored by cartoons, old school Simpsons does it better.
“The popularity has something to do with the animated format, for sure,” she says. “The Simpsons gets to raise all sorts of social, moral and economic commentary because of its format. There’s radical critique in The Simpsons; there is no radical critique in Rick and Morty, in the episodes I have seen.”
Well, let’s be fair. Liking Rick and Morty probably does make us smarter than people who genuinely enjoy The Big Bang Theory. (Although not necessarily people who put it on as background noise for when they’re folding laundry and there’s nothing else on.)
But if you, dear reader, happen to be considering penning a long-winded Facebook or Reddit comment that uses Rick and Morty as a mechanism to celebrate yourself for how smart you think you are, remember, you could wind up personally responsible for ruining Rick and Morty someday. And if that happens, I will never, fucking ever, forgive you.