When Cartoon Network’s [adult swim] program Rick and Morty was in its infancy, the writers room contained the show’s co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, with Tom Kauffman, Ryan Ridley, Wade Randolph, and Eric Acosta, and writer’s assistant Mike McMahan. For the show’s current Season 3 run, that writers room has become gender-balanced with the addition of Jane Becker, Sarah Carbiener, Jessica Gao, and Erica Rosbe. Now a mentally and socially balanced person who’s a fan of the show and the excellent episodes they’ve released just this year might celebrate that fact, while misogynistic trolls might use it as an excuse to harass said female writers. Guess which response Harmon is commenting on now?
After Becker and Gao, two of the writers behind “Rickmancing the Stone” and “Pickle Rick”, were harassed on Twitter and doxxed (i.e. had their personal information put online), EW followed up with Harmon to get his thoughts on the ugly situation. While idiots like these trolls deserve no attention, it’s nice to see Harmon come out in defense of his writing team–male or female. Misogyny aside, the trolls also show no understanding how a writers room works, the creative process, or human decency. Harmon takes them to task on each count in admirable fashion.
You can read Harmon’s full response, courtesy of EW, but I’ve included some of his choicest comments below:
I was familiar going into the third season, having talked to Felicia Day, that any high-profile women get doxxed, they get harassed, they get threatened, they get slandered. And part of it is a testosterone-based subculture patting themselves on the back for trolling these women … “I think it’s all disgusting.
I’m amazed and inspired by any woman, especially in the creative field, who is able to put together a successful career despite its inherent challenges in addition to the gender bias stacked against her. Unfortunately that basic human response doesn’t apply to everyone, especially to people who’ve never actually accomplished anything worthwhile or even attempted to do so. Harmon puts it thusly:
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. It’s offensive to me as someone who was born male and white, and still works way harder than them, that there’s some white male [fan out there] trying to further some creepy agenda by ‘protecting’ my work. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I loathe these people … [T]hese [harassers] aren’t politicians and don’t represent politics. They represent some shit that I probably believed when I was 15.
Harmon makes a good point here: As we age, we (hopefully) mature. A 12-year-old boy making these comments is slightly more understandable than a 30-something mouth-breather doing the same thing. Unfortunately, it also shows “total ignorance” of the creative process overall to attack one writer out of the whole team:
It’s total ignorance of how writing a television show works … I want to scream at my computer: ‘You idiots, we all write the show together!’ If you can tell the difference between one writer and another on a show I’m running I’ve probably gotten so lazy that it hasn’t all been blended and refined in the usual process. The reason one person’s name goes on an episode is that someone has to and everyone deserves one of those times at bat where they have to do all the grunt work — they have to do all the outlining, sometimes, if they’re willing to, they can expand into the post-production process. There’s a bunch of reasons why we don’t accurately reflect how many writers contribute to each episode in the credits.
If possible, I like Harmon even more after this display, and I hope the meta commentary runs strong in an upcoming episode of Rick and Morty. As for Becker (in her first writing job after working on The Simpsons as an assistant) and Gao (the group’s veteran who has nearly a decade of writing experience under her belt, as well as the distinction of being Robot Chicken‘s first female writer), I think they’re going to be just fine. The new additions to the Rick and Morty writers room spoke out about the inherent challenges in a chat with THR, though I doubt this’ll be the last we hear of unnecessary trolling.
I’m sure you’ve got thoughts, so feel free to share them in the comments!