When McDonald’s announced it would be rolling out Szechuan dipping sauce for one day, Rick and Morty fans went nuts.
The show’s fans stormed locations across the country only to learn most didn’t have a single cup to give out. Mickey D’s employees experienced the full depravity of nostalgia capitalism. There were two-plus hour waits, lots of chanting and even more confused employees
It was a show of force for Rick and Morty. A show can’t get much more relevant than causing a real life controversy, let alone one complete with huge nerds and the biggest fast food chain on the planet.
On the other hand, it proved some of the worst stereotypes about the show’s fanbase. Reddit threads on hundreds of show theories are mostly harmless, but bring that recklessness into the real world and you end up with an idiot jumping on a counter and screaming “I’m Pickle Rick.”
I’ve never wanted to punch someone more in my life than this internet-poisoned performance troll.
But as Matt Christman posited on the podcast Chapo Trap House, this kid’s idiocy could be a symptom of something deeper.
“You’re a young subject of late capitalism… All the avenues you have been brought up to believe were going to lead to prosperity and stability in your life—gone. But the one thing late capitalism promised was that every stupid, shitty nostalgic indulgence you can have is at your fingertips. ‘My life is a neoliberal hell, but I can’t even get a cup of fucking Szechuan sauce? Why am I still allowing this system to control me? We should burn it to the fucking ground.’”
In fairness, Chapo blames just about every shitty thing on capitalism. But even in the exaggeration, there’s weight to the idea. The Szechuan sauce was a flippant joke at the end of Rick and Morty’s season three premiere, an absurd, off-the-cuff reference explained as the real driving force behind Rick’s nihilistic character. But that simple mention invoked a desperate, greedy nostalgia among the show’s mostly young fans who, like the toxic attention seeker above, probably have no memory of the sauce promotion to begin with.
Still, some blame lies with McDonald’s. They tried to use the economics of scarcity to draw Rick and Morty fans in to a limited edition promotion—usually a safe bet. But just a bit of research into the fanbase would’ve shown McDonald’s execs that oversized crowds and counter-jumping idiots were inevitable.
A proper rollout of the sauce—which probably isn’t even that good, anyway—would have at least given their poor employees a chance at dealing with the rush. Instead, they look like fools for half-assing a promotion.
Unfortunately, the lessons from this incident won’t sink in overnight, if ever. Comedy shows will keep making jokes, stupid fans will keep overreacting to them. And companies will always seek opportunities to feed off that passion for an extra buck. It’s exploitation at its finest.
The best we can hope for is that they don’t screw it up as bad as McDonald’s did here—or that the fans of the next one aren’t complete lunatics.