A show of philosophical depth… allegedly
A few days ago, I watched the season 5 finale of Rick and Morty. I should state that I am not an R&M fan since I stopped following the show after the season 3 premiere. I never really liked the show like two-thirds of Reddit (then again, two-thirds of Reddit likes a lot of things). Why? I never really quite figured that out, but when I first watched it, I was in my early-to-mid-20s, and back then, I had other problems to care about, so it probably clashed with my ideals back then. In retrospect, I realise that there’s no point in slandering a show since it is mainly intended to entertain people, not provoke them (although some try). So why haven’t I returned to the show? Because what interests me nowadays are beyond things such as cartoons with deep philosophical messages and the toxic fandom it creates. But in a nutshell, in regards to R&M, the only thing that interests me is the Evil Morty subplot.
I don’t know how but this thing became a hit the moment it came out. For those who might not know, Rick and Morty is a cartoon about a mad scientist and his grandson and their misadventures through time and space. Of course, that’s just a very basic description because the cartoon is considered “The Greatest Show of Contemporary Animation” or something like that. Indeed, this is another article about a magnum opus with an overinflated image. Supposedly, the show has, as I said before, theorising deep philosophical messages, which may or may not explain its success, regardless of what one might think of the show. Frankly, I don’t want to be involved with the fandom since, being an avid League of Legends player, I know full well how toxic a community can get. It doesn’t surprise me because big things attract a wide range of personalities… but at least everyone is talking about it, so that’s good, right?
I won’t talk about what the show is about since most people already know what it is. If you don’t, look it up on the Internet (it’s 2021, so everything’s easier). But the show is known for a multitude of features, especially worldbuilding. But despite all that worldbuilding…
Infinite Universes; One Language
So like I said, the show prides itself on the little details that hide in plain sight during every episode. This led to an entire sect of the fandom being entirely dedicated to theorising the show’s lore (which is on a multi-universal scale). At least that’s what they say because whichever episode I watched, I only did so to pass the time and not as a religious practice (some people do that, which is ill-advised, but everybody will do what they like and bear the consequences).
Of course, as per my devotion as a pseudo-linguist, I can’t help but notice a reoccurring problem that, not surprisingly, is something that I already talked about. In all their adventures, Rick and Morty only met aliens from different planets and dimensions who only speak English. No mysterious alien language of any sort, just ol’ regular English.
As I already said, this is something that I talked about already, but this time it’s in regards to a detail-oriented show, and a popular one at that. Of course, I didn’t watch the whole show, so I don’t know how true this is. Anyway, this is hardly a problem, but I want to talk about it further since there are some interesting lingual elements to inspect in modern animation.
This is a satire!
First of all, it’s important to understand that this show is a satire (as the subtitle above would exclaim). While it is keen on details, it doesn’t go too deep that it wants every species that ever appeared on the show to speak something other than English or Spanish or any other terrestrial language. It simply doesn’t matter, and “doesn’t matter” apply pretty much to everything that happens in the show.
And also, people need to understand that limiting every living creature in the multiverse to speaking only English is mostly just for convenience. It’s a means to save time and money for production reasons. Besides, writing language is a hassle; just ask the guy that invented Klingon.
Come to think of it… they could just have the characters make random noises or gibberish. Suddenly, there’s no need to be a smartass about writing languages. It’s either that, or they can just explain it in the show’s canon. Regardless, I won’t be there.
But will you?
I’m sure the show is full of interesting nuances regarding metaphysical questions such as “where the hell is this?” or “why am I?” because not many shows focus their themes on nihilism. But I have my own nuances to deal with, and by “nuances”, I mean problems. This is where you come in to drop your wisdom by saying, what do you think of the subject? Be it Rick and Morty or the thing where everyone speaks English; I don’t mind.
Frankly, I think that Rick and Morty is an awesome show, if not a bit pretentious. Every episode will boggle your mind as to how they do that without going crazy. Aside from the answer “it’s a cartoon”, I don’t know of any substitutes. Anyways, give it a chance; it might work for some while for others not so much.
I don’t think too much about the “everyone speaks language” thing. While it would be cool to have a wide variety of actual spoken languages, it just doesn’t work out in the long run. For a comedy, it wouldn’t work. But it probably works for something more serious. Let’s say… something like Star Wars, maybe.
And that’s it. But while I’m talking about issues that nobody cares about, the real problem is that this article took me 3 days to write. I should probably do something about that…