Roseanne, Dan Harmon, and the End of Hollywood’s Twitter Era (Column)

Variety | 7/25/2018 | Daniel D'Addario
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This week, Dan Harmon, the creator of “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” apologized for a video he made in 2009. That video, which depicted the sexual assault of a baby doll, was meant as a parody of “Dexter” and, Harmon said in his apology, had never been meant to still exist in 2018; he’d taken it down shortly after posting. It was the latest iteration of a recent trend of social media roiling Hollywood, and it led to Harmon making a very wise decision: deleting his Twitter. It’s an acknowledgment that the freewheeling openness of the social media age, if it was ever congruous with the corporate entertainment industry, isn’t anymore.

Though Harmon deleted the clip, the internet, of course, is forever. A video, once uploaded, can’t be made to go away once remembered and, crucially, saved by an internet user. But the recirculation of Harmon’s video seems fueled in large part by a dollop of bad faith. Polygon has a good summation of how Harmon’s video traveled the right-wing web, used as an example of liberals’ hypocrisy. After all, the argument goes, don’t liberals criticize conservatives for stances and philosophies far less offensive than this “joke”? Wasn’t Roseanne Barr fired for something less egregious?

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To get this excised over the relative unfairness of Harmon’s and Barr’s cases, though, one must believe, or pretend to believe, that Harmon is a literal pedophile, just as one would have needed to take “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn’s miscalculated and outlandish jokes as statements of fact in order to suggest he wasn’t just distasteful in the past but a potentially criminal bad actor. Harmon’s video demonstrates a less-than-thought-through comic philosophy, a bristly sense of himself as the arbiter of what is acceptable...
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