An April Fools’ Day prank has left Bendigo residents questioning whether all publicity is, in fact, good publicity after animated TV series Rick and Morty focused their lights on the town.
Many viewers thought that the Rick and Morty Facebook page had handed them a link directing them to the first episode of the new season four, however, were surprised when it led them to a 10-minute parody episode.
3.2 million followers were taken to the site that portrayed characters with Australian accents setting out on a road trip from Wollongong to Bendigo.
It appears that the episode did have some positive effects on the regional town of Bendigo with Google searches skyrocketing immediately after the episode was released as viewers were eager to learn more about it.
However, in a slightly less encouraging sign for the former hub of gold miners, the show doesn’t exactly depict the city as it really is. Morty is asked what he sees as soon as he arrives and responds with, “Trees, scrubs, nothing really.”
What’s in the name?
The episode was created by an animator based in Wollongong by the name of Michael Cusack. The animator has become extremely popular as a result of his dark and funny depictions of regional Australia and even caught the eye of Rick and Morty Creators Dan Harmon and Dustin Roiland.
Harmon and Roiland had commissioned Cusack to draw the episode over a year ago in preparation for this year’s April Fools’ Day. In response to questions regarding the episode, called ‘Bushland Adventures’, Cusack said that he was genuinely thinking of the funniest place name to use. He said he came across Wagga Wagga and others but said that “There’s something about the name (Bendigo) that seemed right”.
It appears that it wasn’t all good from a local point of view with the mayor of Bendigo, Margaret O’Rourke, saying that the depiction of the city was “pretty crass” and recommended that Mr. Cusack visit the town to gain a better understanding of its offerings.
However, she did believe that the global “shout-out” could be good for the city.
“If people are going to go online to see what Bendigo is about…no news is bad news.”
Cusack said that he was simply representing the average nature of everyday life as opposed to the polished view that is regularly highlighted in American media.
In good news for the Rick and Morty collaborative, fans of the show expressed their delight at the parody with one person even saying “I’m from Bendigo and I can confirm this is exactly what it’s like.”