The Philosophy of Get Schwifty (Rick and Morty) – Wisecrack Edition
Welcome to this special Wisecrack Edition on the Philosophy of Get Schwifty! Join us as we take a closer look at religion and belief systems in one of our favorite episodes of Rick and Morty! Time to Get Schwifty!
Written by: Matt Reichle
Research by: Claire Pickard
Narrated and Directed by: Jared Bauer
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Assistant Editor: Andrew Nishimura
Motion Graphics by: Drew Levin
Produced by: Jacob Salamon
The Philosophy of Get Schwifty
Hey Wisecrack, Jared here. With a new Rick and Morty season SUPPOSEDLY just around the corner we thought that it would be a great time to revisit one of our favorite episodes:”Get Schwifty.” One of the show’s essential features is that it trivializes everything people hold dear, and for billions of people, nothing is more sacred than religion. While religion is, rather overtly, a regular victim of Rick’s contempt, there’s something to be said about the complexity of the Schwifty episode. While Rick and Morty often reduces religion to superstition.
Get Schwifty complicates this outlook, exploring the way we rationalize such thinking. When a giant floating head shows up and insists to humanity: —the Earth is plagued with earth quakes, sink holes, fires, and massive flooding. The show uses this opportunity to quickly roast the opportunistic nature of organized religion— The episode follows two groups:There are those that know the Cromulons are actually here to film a reality show, and those that have no clue what is going on.
Headism is a cult that pops up because of a cosmic problem in point of view. There’s no peak behind the curtain. People don’t know what the hell a Cromulon is or what “show me what you’ve got” refers to, so naturally they form a cult. The episode could be read as just a scathing indictment of religion, about the arbitrary nature of faith and its ceremonies. On “Ascension Day” the Headists send “unwantables” to the gods, which bears a striking resemblance to the crucifixion of Christ. Instead, what is presented is something much more complex. The episode takes aim at the reasoning behind belief structures themselves—not just religious practices—it exposes the fallacies behind all kinds of shit people believe. Get Schwifty makes fun of two common logical fallacies, both of which conflate correlation with causation. The headist religion is started because Principal Vagina prays to the Head at the same time that the cataclysmic events begin to subside:
That’s the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: the mistaken belief that one thing occurring at the same time as another unrelated thing has anything to do with each other. The reality is that the heads stop because they are pleased with Rick’s impromptu performance of “Get Schwifty.” A song about dropping your panties, and a deuce, on the floor.
The person to create the first list of logical fallacies was Aristotle. Tired of arguing with dumb people, he created a giant list of arguments that sound great but are actually pure ass-clownery. The episode plays with all sorts of these fallacies. The president thinks that The Dream, Billy Corgan, Randy Newman and Farrell are all dead because: That’s the post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacy: the idea that because something comes prior to something else it is naturally the cause.
Principal Vagina tries to ascend Beth and Jerry and everyone assumes that this angers the giant heads. That’s the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. In reality the heads are pissed off because Rick’s performance without Morty is terrible… that and a nuclear strike.So the headists try to ascend Principal Vagina to ease the heads anger but truth is, the heads don’t give a rats-ass abbout what they’re up to. In each instance the characters with a limited point of view,the people who don’t know that all of this is just a giant reality television show, believe that their mundane ceremonies influence the heads. Beth and Jerry actually point out this logical fallacy a couple times.
While ruthlessly satirizing the magical thinking of the faithful, the episode also makes a greater point. People don’t just fall into silly beliefs out of pure irrationality, rather, they over rationalize their thinking—to the point of absurdity. Some cognitive psychologists argue that pseudo-scientific belief systems are far from fragile. Doomsday cults, psychics, and conspiracy theorists are so resilient in their beliefs because they are sustained by the structure of the human brain. The belief systems persist and spread via appeals to rationality—not through tricking people or the stupidity of the masses. The human brain is hard-wired to search for logical conclusions and easy explanations.
People tend to believe what they want to believe—what lines up with their world view. People like consuming and sharing news that aligns with their political beliefs or creating elaborate justifications for supporting the sportsball team they were raised to root for.. Its called confirmation bias: the propensity to seek out and interpret information that proves your own beliefs. Confirmation bias explains why people are willing to overcome flaws in their belief system for the sake of the greater good.
All of these fallacies and biases aren’t unique to religion however. While Rick and Morty has had a great time shitting on religion, the reality is that post hoc rationalization is an inevitability of our cause- and- effect thought process. Even the audience is fooled by the brain’s propensity to accept logical fallacies as seen in Rick’s snake and wristwatch trick. It Plays on the brains desire to attribute event A as the cause of event B. When in reality:
Sure, Rick and Morty delivers the tasty irony that the cosmic events that help build a religion can be woefully inaccurate— that the reality of belief structures can be built on the most inane of all things—a f*cking reality TV show. But they take things a step further—the ability to make predictions and understand the complexity of existence as a whole is taken to task. And that’s what separates Rick and Morty from contemporary satire. Nothing is safe. Not even belief. Take it easy Wisecrack.