Rick and Morty are speechless. A couple of weeks ago, it came out that Justin Roiland, the co-creator and lead voice actor of Rick and Morty, has been charged with felony domestic violence – specifically with one count of “domestic battery with corporal injury” and one count of “false imprisonment with menace, violence, fraud, and/or deceit” – by a former girlfriend. The charges were brought in 2020; Roiland has pled not guilty, and his attorney said they expect the case to be dismissed. All of the evidence in the case is being withheld from the public. But he’s already lost something because Adult Swim has just announced that he’s been fired and will no longer be a part of the show he co-created.
— Rick and Morty (@RickandMorty) January 24, 2023
I’m a huge Rick and Morty fan; I’ve talked about it at length here, here, and here (in that order). So, if you think this invalidates my opinion on the matter, that’s fair enough.
I find this disgusting, especially because it’s happening in the one place on Earth where it’s not supposed to happen. Justin Roiland hasn’t been convicted of anything. He also denies the charges, and his lawyer says he thinks the case will be dismissed. (That statement from his lawyer may have been from 2020; it’s unclear based on the reporting, and it could just be legal blustering.) That doesn’t exonerate him, but it sure as hell means he shouldn’t have his life destroyed and the art he created taken away from him.
And make no mistake, Justin Roiland is even more responsible for Rick and Morty than Dan Harmon is (not to take anything away from Harmon, who’s a huge part of why the show is so great); he created the original cartoon from which the show spawned. He also voices many characters on the show, including… Rick and Morty. I felt the same way when Joss Whedon’s career was taken from him because he made Ray Fisher cry and was revealed as a nasty guy on the sets of his shows; I still haven’t been able to watch The Nevers because I know it was taken from the man who created it. And he wasn’t accused of anything as serious as what Roiland is said to have done.
I have no idea if Justin Roiland is innocent or guilty. But neither do you, nor anyone else save Roiland and the person accusing him, and in America, you’re supposed to have the benefit of the doubt. What happens if Roiland is cleared? Personally, I hope he sues Adult Swim and Warner Bros. Discovery until they’re selling used paper plates on eBay just to keep the lights on, but I doubt that’ll happen. Will they offer him his job back working on the show he created? I think not; everyone will say, “Well, them’s the breaks,” and he’ll continue to be a pariah. He doesn’t have the clout of a Johnny Depp to claw his career back, despite the cultural juggernaut Rick and Morty has become.
Oh, yeah, remember Johnny Depp? Specifically, I mean the people who’ve decided Justin Roiland should be removed from society because someone called him a witch. Because the same thing happened to Depp, likely by a lot of the same people who are doing it to Roiland now, and he turned out to be innocent and successfully sued the woman who accused him. Did no one learn anything from that debacle? Again, I don’t know if Roiland is innocent; he could be pure evil. But that can’t be the assumption, especially in a case where we’ve seen zero evidence (aside from some supposed texts going around Twitter, but I don’t know if they’re legit), and even more especially in the wake of the MeToo mass hysteria. Perhaps we can take a breath and wait for something more definitive than a pointed finger before we annihilate someone.