MINOR SPOILERS For the Season 6 Rick and Morty Episode “Rick: A Mort Well Lived”
If you know Rick and Morty you’ll know the show has a bit of a difficult relationship with its fans, itself, and it’s creators. For me, Rick is one of those characters, such as Walter White or Don Draper that straight men idolize for being rebellious lone wolf heroes without taking a step back and really looking at the character’s behaviour and reflecting on why they tend to be drawn to characters who are objectively pretty awful people.
All this being said, I do enjoy the show. It’s humour and surreal space high jinks is a perfect Saturday morning cartoon for grownups. A recent episode caused me to suddenly reach for my metaphorical coaching hat and caused me to start ponderously stroking my beard.
The plot revolved around Morty being stuck inside a video game. Morty’s consciousness was split across the millions of non-player characters (NPCs) in the computer game and over the episode we saw how each character Women, Men, Children, everyone from the President to the Postman (all voiced by Justin Roiland) grappled with this idea that they were in fact all part of the same being. For some this caused immediate empathy to break out, they saw that they were all part of the same greater whole and didn’t want to harm each other. For others it was a struggle to recognise something that we as viewers could see was very obvious. This being Rick and Morty, a utopia fueled by empathy did not last long and the video game world quickly spiraled into a divisive religion, and then into a grizzly war.
I thought this was a great accessible example of what empathy is. These characters were saying over and over again, we are the same, we’re all parts of the same greater being, so let’s treat each other with respect.
This is of course true for us out here in reality, we’re all humans, we’re all part of this species together. Empathy is sometimes a tough thing when it is tested by other’s violence or ignorance, by all types of conflict on a micro to a macro scale. If we all take a step back and remind ourselves that we’re all part of the same human family, hopefully that will inform our choices and we’ll decide to be a bit kinder.
I won’t spoil the ending of the episode, but let’s just say I was impressed with the emotional awareness on display in what is often a rather crude, violent, and entertaining show.
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