After James Gunn, Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon quits Twitter after controversial video resurfaces

The reemergence of Gunn and Harmon's controversial content has fuelled fresh debates about freedom of speech and the boundaries of comedy in an increasingly aggressive politically correct climate.

FP Staff July 24, 2018 15:42:24 IST
After James Gunn, Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon quits Twitter after controversial video resurfaces

Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon deleted his Twitter account following the reemergence of a decade-old sketch in which he plays a child molester named Daryl.

The 2009 clip, which was an apparent parody of the series Dexter, shows the comedian simulating rape on a baby doll. He jokes the footage was shot for a Showtime series pilot and warns the audience about the “controversial” content they're about to watch and that “it’s a little groundbreaking for normal people to handle”. It originally aired during Channel 101, a monthly short film competition for comedy sketches.

After James Gunn Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon quits Twitter after controversial video resurfaces

Dan Harmon. Image via Twitter

Harmon, who also created the hit sitcom Community, has since apologised in a statement given to CNET. "In 2009, I made a 'pilot' which strove to parody the series 'Dexter' and only succeeded in offending. I quickly realised 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 apologise," he said.

Adult Swim, the network behind Rick and Morty, accepted his apology. Fans of the comedian too took to Twitter to defend his sense of humour, which has spawned such beloved comedies.

The Daryl clip resurfaced in the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s firing by Disney after old tweets emerged last week where he joked about subjects like pedophilia and rape.

Gunn, who has deleted his account, described himself as a "very, very different" person than when he wrote the tweets, now focusing on love rather than anger. Gunn directed both Guardians of the Galaxy films. The third film in the series is due out in 2020.

Close to 250,000 people have since signed a petition for Disney to rehire Gunn, who also garnered celebrity support just days after he was axed over a series of offensive tweets. Chandler Edwards, who launched the petition on Change.org, argued that if Gunn was being punished by being removed from the third installment in the popular series, "you have to do it for all the other directors who have said some crappy joke sometime in their life, which is all of them."

Gunn has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and has drawn the ire of conservative critics, who went back through his timeline and dug up the tweets. He was fired after Disney television network ABC axed Roseanne Barr from the sitcom Roseanne for a racist tweet about former White House aide Valerie Jarrett. Barr has said she was targeted because of her vocal support for Trump in an industry that largely opposes him.

Comedian Trevor Noah too is facing similar calls for a boycott of his “Tour Down Under” over an offensive joke he told in 2013 calling all indigenous Australian women ugly, even after he acknowledged on Monday that he had done wrong. Noah, host of the popular Daily Show, responded after an indigenous Australian highlighted a clip of a stand-up show in 2013 where the comedian made the offensive comments, with the hashtag #boycotttrevornoahinoz.

These incidents have fuelled fresh debates about freedom of speech and the boundaries of comedy in an increasingly aggressive politically correct climate.

(With inputs from agencies)

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