Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon has blasted his show’s sexist fans in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, calling their behavior “disgusting.”
It seems a number of the animated comedy’s biggest fans are fragile of masculinity: Incensed by the show's recent decision to employ a gender-balanced writing team, these trolls have taken it upon themselves to harass, threaten, and dox its female writers for daring to encroach upon their white-male-nerd territory.
Harmon is livid that they think they are acting on his show’s behalf. “These knobs, that want to protect the content they think they own—and somehow combine that with their need to be proud of something they have, which is often only their race or gender.” Harmon, who is white and male himself, says he finds the fans offensive, members of “a testosterone-based subculture patting themselves on the back.”
Rick and Morty’s sexist following is no secret. Vox critic Todd VanDerWerff tweeted that these toxic fans are part of why he doesn’t write about the show more often, even though he loves it.
Every so often, there are shows where the fanbase is so, so, so toxic that engaging feels like encouraging their bad behavior.— Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) September 21, 2017
David Sims of the Atlantic retweeted VanDerWerff, adding that it was the most problematic fan community he’d ever seen.
Rick and Morty is a wonderful TV show that has the most insanely toxic fanbase I’ve ever seen online and that is saying a lot https://t.co/YyvgVQSP4B— David Sims (@davidlsims) September 21, 2017
In the EW interview, Harmon pointed out that having bad people watch your show is part and parcel of having a popular show. “If you’re lucky enough to make a show that is really good that people like, that means some bad people are going to like it too,” he said.
But while sexist trolls don't represent the majority of Rick and Morty's fan base, it's not actually normal for "really good" shows to have a misogynistic following that is this vocal and this revolting. There is something about geek culture that seems to attract and accept this kind of sexism and harrassment, from Gamergaters to the man-children who drove Leslie Jones from Twitter. Harmon's condemnation is only one step in a much larger battle against the insidious misogyny within online nerd culture.
As VanDerWerff added:
The Venn diagram intersection of this toxic fandom is, 999 times out of 1,000, "young straight white men” and “extremely online.”— Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) September 21, 2017