A fresh wave of backlash faced the Adult Swim series Rick and Morty this week when an offensive video made by co-creator Dan Harmon resurfaced. The 2009 clip was an attempt at parody by Harmon, but it focused on the sexual assault of fictional infants. Some critics are now calling on Adult Swim to cancel Rick and Morty.
Harmon apologized for the offending video two years ago, when it first resurfaced. It was made back in 2009 as a part of Channel 101, a short film contest that Harmon co-created, participated in and ran for years. This particular clip was titled "Daryl," and was a parody of the TV show Dexter, except instead of a murderer who murders other murderers, Harmon played a child molester with a similar gimmick. It was recirculated this week by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who believe that social elites in the government and Hollywood are complicit in a massive child sex trafficking conspiracy.
Calls to cancel Rick and Morty over "Daryl" have already been answered back in 2018. At the time, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network condemned the video but stood by Harmon and his apology for it. After issuing his apology, Harmon deleted his Twitter account.
"In 2009, I made a 'pilot' which strove to parody the series 'Dexter' and only succeeded in offending," he wrote at the time. "I quickly realized the content was way too distasteful and took the video down immediately. Nobody should ever have to see what you saw and for that, I sincerely apologize."
The video surfaced this week under the hashtags "Save Our Children" and "Save The Children," which were initially used to raise money for charity, according to a report by The New York Times. However, QAnon groups soon infiltrated the hashtags and took them over, with some people reposting conspiracy theories without necessarily realizing it.
QAnon has been associated with acts of violence and terrorism — including the infamous "PizzaGate" shooting — as well as ideologies of antisemitism and racism. It is based on dubious posts around the Internet by a person named "Q," who claims to be a government agent working with the Trump administration to destabilize the "deep state" powers within the U.S. government.
Harmon not only left Twitter following the first circulation of "Daryl," but ended his beloved podcast Harmontown last year as well. He still interacts with fans actively online, however, through posts and livestreams on Instagram. So far, Harmon has not responded to the latest rehashing of the "Daryl" scandal there.