By Joe Harker
You may have been taught never to bite the hand that feeds you, and in general that is good advice. For creators of TV shows it is rarely a good idea to criticise fans, but Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon has done just that. After he and fellow creator Justin Roiland specifically made an effort to hire more women to write for the third season of the popular animation, the writers they hired were the subject of attacks and abuse.
Harmon has hit out at "fans" who have done such things, saying "I loathe these people" that display a "total ignorance of how television works". Responding to a perceived drop in quality and blaming the women brought in to work on the third season, some fans took to doxxing, where personal information about the target is taken and shared online. Often it is personal information that a person would prefer to keep private, which may then be used to threaten the individual. It is one thing to be attacked by anonymous internet users, but it is much more sinister when they can find out your home address and personal details.
Harmon also shot down the faulty logic behind criticising the writers for the perceived impact they have had on the show. Writing the episodes is a collaborative process so even if one or two people are credited as the writers for an episode they are not the only ones with an impact on the show. As co-creators the final word often rests with Harmon and Roiland, so abusing the women who write for the show is not going to have an impact on the creative process.
Writing for VICE, Larry Fitzmaurice says he loves the show that Harmon and Roiland created, but hates the fans. The show is about the adventures of a scientist and his grandson and contains some intelligent humour, but this appears to have led some of the fans to think themselves smarter than other people for watching and liking the show. With fans in a self-congratulatory mood and some abusing women, Harmon called the doxxers "a testosterone-based subculture patting themselves on the back for trolling these women". His comments may mean they no longer watch the show, but Rick and Morty will likely survive their loss and the women who write episodes know that the creators are willing to speak out and support them.
Should show creators be willing to criticise their own fans over out of order behaviour, or should they be careful not to turn viewers against them?