Six months ago the cartoon Rick and Morty spent a few minutes making jokes about a forgotten fast food condiment. Yesterday McDonald’s brought that Rick-approved szechuan sauce back in “super-limited” quantities for a single day, only for the show’s fans to completely lose their shit and go nuclear at the pink slime pusher when they weren’t able to get the little tubs full of corn syrup. (There were also posters involved, apparently.) It seems like most locations received around 20 packages of the sauce, not nearly enough to satiate the lines of Mortyheads that snaked through every McDonald’s parking lot.
Twitter, that great sanctum of the irrationally enraged, tells the tale of a fanbase that feels betrayed because they can’t eat the sickly sweet sauce many of them had probably never even heard of before this season. Stories abound of toonheads waiting for hours for this long-dead concoction, their frustrated cries of “wubba wubba lub dub” echoing through the fields and valleys of this great land, some driving mighty distances to taste the thing that was mentioned in like one episode of an okay show several months ago. Talk of boycotts and lawsuits spread quickly, spurring an apology by the under-delivering fast food giant. For a glimpse of the anger, check out the responses to this apology that McDonald’s tweeted last night.
McDonald’s definitely erred in running this promotion without the proper amount of sauce. The size and passion of the Rick and Morty fanbase is well-established, and this kind of reaction, as silly as it is, was easily predictable. McDonald’s messed up.
Still, though. The rage on display does nothing but reinforce the toxic reputation that Rick and Morty fans have developed over the last couple of years. It’s a textbook case of how extreme fandom can make people lose touch with common sense. They can’t get this mediocre sauce they’ve probably never tasted from this gross fast food restaurant that specializes in trash food, so they’re going to yell and scream and issue threats about it on the internet. Or, even worse, bidding into the hundreds of dollars for the stuff on eBay. And all because they feel the need to demonstrate their love for this TV show that doesn’t even know they exist.
Loving things is great. Finding deeper meaning in media is part of why Paste exists and why all of us work for it. But getting angry over a silly fast food promotion connected to a show that you identify with isn’t particularly healthy. The entertainment you consume, from TV shows to videogames to comic books to movies, shouldn’t define who you are as a person, and the failure to dip McDonald’s horrible fried chicken blobs into this sauce (or collect the limited edition posters) shouldn’t disappoint you that greatly. It shouldn’t hurt you or make you feel like you’ve been exploited. There’s so much else in this world to be stressed or angry about; let’s just enjoy our cartoons and fast food without making too big of a fuss about it.
But if Long John Silver’s ever discontinues their glorious chicken planks my world-annihilating rage will make this szechuan sauce debacle look like a schoolyard slapfight.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.