The voice of the internet generation: why we love Justin Roiland’s rickdiculousness
Just talking to Justin Roiland feels like getting lost in an internet K-hole.
Yawning, he tells me he hit a creative stride last night at 10 p.m. and couldn’t stop until 4 a.m. This isn’t unusual for him. Actually, it’s much tamer than other fevered nights losing sleep over whatever he’s working on. Like when he coaxed Stanley Parable co-creator William Pugh to stay up until 5 a.m. the week before GDC 2015 to finish the game-jam version of their singular virtual reality experience, Accounting. Or when he stayed up even after Pugh left and, in an edible-fueled frenzy, kept working until he finally rustled awake Alex Hirsh – his friend and esteemed creator of Gravity Falls – to insist he come over to play it at 7 a.m. Roiland’s obsessive enthusiasm for the things he makes must be infectious, though, since both friends gave in.
As he recounts these instances of restless passion in his Burbank office, Roiland shares the couch with a life-sized pillow of Mr. Poopy Butthole, one of the most beloved recurring characters on Rick and Morty. Aside from becoming a ratings hit with a cult following, Roiland and co-creator Dan Harmon’s juggernaut sci-fi animated-series-that-shouldn’t also found unprecedented critical success. Harmon, of Community fame and infamy, took Roiland under his wing over a decade ago — managing to simultaneously exacerbate and hone the young creator’s endless capacity to think up the most bizarre, freakish, yet relatable shit to ever grace television.
A balance of nihilistic dread and uninhibited silliness, Roiland’s the kind of creator you can unironically call the voice of our internet generation. In addition to being one of the driving forces behind Rick and Morty – the rare network TV show that’s authentically literate when it comes to games and internet culture – his resonance online only grows sharper the more he expands beyond the world of animation. That world which Roiland and Harmon built lends itself seamlessly to translation across an entire spectrum of mediums, with collaborations like Adult Swim Games and Owlchemy Labs’ VR game Virtual Rick-ality, the popular iOS game Pocket Mortys, and even the comic book series written by Zac Gorman. Aside from Accounting, he also recently launched his own VR studio Squanch Games (previously Squanchtendo), now currently in the process of producing its first full-length title. It seems nearly everything Roiland touches, from the Adult Swim series to his new forays into VR, cuts through the noise with an absurdity that holds up the mirror to our current day – certifiably a strange time to be alive, especially on the internet
Roiland’s unique relevancy comes at least partially from the fact that he’s one of us. A self-admitted Reddit addict, he’s been glued to the world weird web ever since the early 90s, years before AOL acquired Global Network Navigator (AKA, GNN, the first commercial website).
Read more at Rolling Stone.