HONG KONG: Eagle-eyed Hong Kong fans of the adult cartoon sitcom Rick and Morty have spotted oblique references to the city’s democracy movement in the latest episode of the cult sci-fi show.
Final DeSmithation, the fifth episode of the sixth season, aired last Sunday (Oct 2) and featured a characteristically chaotic storyline involving an imprisoned alien making fortune cookies.
Towards the climax, a series of numbers and letters flash up on the screen that, to the uninitiated, might look random.
But the codes – GFHG19SDGM, 721DLLM and 19HK831 – were quickly seized on by Hong Kong viewers who spotted and explained their significance this week on Reddit and the local forum LIHKG.
The first is widely used as shorthand for the Cantonese protest chant “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – a slogan that has since been declared illegal in the Chinese financial hub.
The other two reference significant dates during the 2019 protests – namely a Jul 21 attack on protesters by government supporters, and police beating protesters inside a subway station on Aug 31.
DLLM is also internet shorthand for the most popular curse in Hong Kong – an insult to the recipient’s mother – which was frequently shouted by police and protesters at each other.
“Thank you to the producers of Rick and Morty,” wrote one user under a post on LIHKG that had received nearly 5,000 upvotes.
Others fretted that the episode might get removed in Hong Kong, which has embraced greater censorship since the 2019 protests.
“If this receives exposure and the company kowtows, someone might lose their job,” one user wrote.