Adult Swim Stands by Dan Harmon After Controversial 2009 Video Resurfaces

Dan Harmon at Comic-Con 2014

Dan Harmon | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Adult Swim is standing by Rick and Morty creator Dan Harmon after a controversial 2009 sketch, in which he simulates rape on a plastic baby doll, surfaced.

The video is meant to be a spoof of Showtime’s Dexter, which is about a serial killer who murders other killers. In Harmon’s parody, he plays a child molester who rapes a baby in order to prevent him from becoming a serial killer. Harmon can be seen in the video pulling down his pants and simulating rape on a plastic baby doll in two scenes.

This sketch was resurfaced and spread by members of 4chan, and it comes as many on the alt-right have been making a concerted effort to find offensive material from liberal comedians’ past in order to discredit them and give them a “taste of their own medicine” after Roseanne Barr’s firing.

Harmon has now released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, explaining, “In 2009, I made a ‘pilot’ which strove to parody the series Dexter and only succeeded in offending. I quickly realized the content was way too distasteful and took the video down immediately. Nobody should ever have to see what you saw and for that, I sincerely apologize.”

At the same time, Adult Swim has released a statement standing by Harmon and accepting his apology.

“At Adult Swim, we seek out and encourage creative freedom and look to push the envelope in many ways, particularly around comedy,” the network’s statement read. “The offensive content of Dan’s 2009 video that recently surfaced demonstrates poor judgement and does not reflect the type of content we seek out. Dan recognized his mistake at the time and has apologized. He understands there is no place for this type of content here at Adult Swim.”

Harmon has left Twitter, although this is not the first time he has quit the social media platform. This all comes just days after those on the alt-right went after James Gunn in a similar fashion, dredging up offensive jokes he had made on his Twitter account about a decade earlier. In that case, though, Disney did not stand by the Guardians of the Galaxy director, firing him less than 24 hours after the tweets resurfaced.

James Gunn at the opening of the Guardians of The Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! ride

James Gunn | Richard Harbaugh/Getty Images

The difference, though, is that Disney is quite protective of its family-friendly brand, whereas the Harmon video from 2009 isn’t actually that out of line with the content of Rick and Morty, a show which frequently makes light of dark subjects like rape.

Over the past few days, members of the alt-right have been going after other liberal comedians like Patton Oswalt and Michael Ian Black. Comments sections on popular alt-right websites and message boards express the sentiment that this is a part of a culture war and that liberals are getting what’s coming to them after having instigated our current “outrage culture.”

Since Gunn’s firing, there has been a massive backlash against Disney’s decision, with those in Hollywood standing by Gunn and with over 250,000 people signing a petition calling for him to be rehired.