In our weekly roundup of white men apologizing for things they’re #sorrynotsorry for, Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon has been forced to get down on his knees (not literally, come on), beg forgiveness, and delete that damn Twitter account over an old, offensive sketch that has resurfaced online.
The skit in question was the second and final instalment in a series called Daryl, which was intended to be a spoof of Showtime’s Dexter, showing Harmon acting as a child molestor. When introducing the skit to the camera, Harmon jokingly describes it as “a little groundbreaking for normal people to handle,” before showing his character prescribing his client sleeping pills, jumping through a window, and pretending to have sex with the client’s baby (represented by a plastic doll).
While you might just be able to see why some found offense in the video, the fact is that it’s been accessible online for the past nine years since it first aired in 2009 during the live monthly LA short film festival Channel 101, which Harmon co-founded back in 2003. Also, as pointed out by an unnamed blogger, “It’s a dated parody of how Dexter normalized twisted crimes. We should point out hypocrisy where it exists and move on.”
No one really paid much attention back then because, as is evident by the many similar stories to this making their way to the fore in recent times, no one cared quite so much, and Harmon went on to find success with NBC’s Community and later with Rick and Morty.
The video was removed from the internet in 2012, with Vulture reporting at the time: “Unfortunately, Daryl has been taken offline for unknown reasons. I’m going to assume that it was a move by Harmon to keep unsuspecting NBC execs who hold Community’s fate in their hands from seeing the second episode, which may or may not have contained man-on-cat rape.”
But alas, the internet being the internet, there were a few (thousand) copies floating around online and this ticking time bomb was set off after the skit was picked up by none other than elusive internet beast 4chan earlier this week, as well as far-right bloggers and The_Donald subreddit, who spread the damn thing like wildfire and caused it to go viral. Yikes!
One 4Chan user pointed out Harmon’s criticism of Trump by sharing the video in reference to the Roseanne Barr racist tweet saga, which unfolded back in May, stating: “If they get to take scalps for someone making racist jokes, we get to take scalps for them making paedophilia jokes.”
On the other side of the argument, many have stated that while it’s an offensive sketch, those who were aware of Harmon’s Channel 101 would’ve understood the humor. “This was the same festival that helped other boundary-pushing comedy groups like Tim and Eric, The Lonely Island, Derrick Comedy, and Human Giant break into the industry,” noted Polygon.
Whatever your view is on the distasteful skit, since the video has resurfaced Harmon has been forced to apologize and has deleted his Twitter account. And of course statements have been issued. Here’s Harmon’s: “In 2009, I made a ‘pilot’ which strove to parody the series Dexter and only succeeded in offending. 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.”
And here’s Adult Swim’s (gotta cover all ground): “At Adult Swim, we seek out and encourage creative freedom and look to push the envelope in many ways, particularly around comedy. The offensive content of Dan’s 2009 video that recently surfaced demonstrates poor judgement and does not reflect the type of content we seek out. Dan recognized his mistake at the time and has apologized. He understands there is no place for this type of content here at Adult Swim.”
Dust off those hands, folks – looks like all that can be done now is to wait for this whole thing to blow over before an even dumber video / tweet / Baroque-influenced parody song / theatrical poem resurfaces online that was made before the post-woke world we’re currently living in.
And when it comes to Harmon, he’ll be added to the pile of white dudes called out for dumb shit they did a decade ago. So is he wrong? Or is it an overreaction? Probably a bit of both. All we can do is sit back, popcorn in hand, and wait for the next controversy to unfold. Mwah ha ha.
For more white men apologizing, check out what James Gunn’s been up to recently.