How Ren N’ Stimpy Helped Inspire The Mindf*ck That Is Modern Kid’s Television
I know that for as long as there has been television aimed at children, there have been mindf*ck shows, too. Maybe they were puppet shows for kids, but the puppets were scary as hell. Maybe it was a show with an older man hosting, but the guy seemed like he could go insane at any moment and just jump through your TV and murder your family. Sometimes, it was something as simple as a cartoon, just secretly firing off adult references no kid would even understand. Hell, now we have animation aimed at kids who the world must be assuming is staying alive in a diet of LSD and sugar cereal. Keep in mind, I love this shit. This is not me condemning it. This is me simply pointing out how insane kid’s TV is. It has all become an animated mindf*ck. Well, I tend to think this has a great deal to do with Ren N’ Stimpy in the nineties. All the people like me, having our minds blown as young kids while watching that show, are now old enough to make their own cartoons. I think you are getting where I am going with this.
Wait, what is going on here? Yes, that is exactly my point.
I was that kid. I liked Ren N’ Stimpy SO MUCH, I wore t-shirts with them blazoned across it. Hell, we are talking early teen here. I still look back and marvel at the fact that I ever got laid. Thank God I tricked girls into thinking I was cute with humor. If I didn’t have that, I would still be a virgin. Anyway, that show blew my mind. It was absurd, bizarre, and above all else, wickedly entertaining. It was like the style of 1940’s animation associated most with Warner Bros and Looney Tunes, but it was wickedly insane and turned up three notches. Quite unlike any cartoons that had come before it. I still quote those guys regularly (Steeempy, you EEEDiot) and it never fails to make me smile. One could even say, maybe I would not be here writing for a living now, were it not for the wicked creativity of guys like John Kricfalusi (writer, creator, animator, and voice actor behind Ren N’ Stimpy). Now let’s flash back and imagine how many young animators and writers were as fevered fans of Ren N’ Stimpy as I was. That means all of them are around my age right now, which means, I am right about my theory. Everything right now is batshit insane, extra colorful, and exaggerated, much like Ren N’ Stimpy were so many years ago and that is BECAUSE of the influence of Ren N’ Stimpy. I mean, just look at someone like Sponge Bob.
Sorry to say, but this would have not existed, had Ren N’ Stimpy not done it first.
Spongebob is the Ren N’ Stimpy model mastered. Weird characters in a weird place interacting with other weird characters, with very little sense made of it all. Once Spongebob took off, it was really all over for normal cartoons. Kid didn’t just want anthropomorphic animals anymore. They wanted anthropomorphic sponges and talking candy. Speaking of talking candy….
A few years ago, Adventure Time pulled me in and I was pretty much a fan of what they were doing, immediately. I could tell from one episode that the show was gonna pull off some dual magic. They were going to appeal to children, while having a whole subtext of untold stories that adults could pick up on, too. That, alone, reminded me of how I would feel watching Ren N’ Stimpy years and years earlier. On top of that, the show is animated beautifully, and is bat shit insane. Sorry I am using that term so much here, but would any other fit? It is all those elements adding up so well that make Adventure Time something that needs to be seen to be believed. The best way I could explain Adventure Time to anyone is, it is a show for imaginative kids, and adults who like to read and take drugs. No, seriously. I do not attempt to undermine the amazing show at all by saying that, but that is safe to be said. But the creator Behind Adventure Time seems like he is very much aware of this, and plays off of it. But I always find myself wondering, would Adventure Time exist without Ren N’ Stimpy? They’re very much the same thing. A show that pretends to be aimed at kids, but it CLEARLY aimed at adults.
I have been waiting for Powdered Toast Man to appear in the Candy Kingdom for some time now. That would be a perfect fit.
Now you have shows like Uncle Grandpa, and where Adventure Time was at least attempting to tell a rather nuanced and complex story about love and loss and learning, shows like Uncle Grampa ditch that entirely, and just keep the zany and irreverent mindf*ckery. Another element that carried over from 90’s Ren N’ Stimpy. The Ren N’ Stimply Ripple, I call it. More on that later. Let me show you an example.
Now, I need to follow this up with, I like this show. I really do. But understand, you are talking to someone who has a jar of weed next to me right now, so I feel that I would be a fool to think that does not factor in somehow.
The thing is, that is only two examples. I can go through dozens of them right now. Reality Falls, Chowder, Breadwinners. I just found out about Breadwinners last week, watched one episode, and it just further proved to me what I already thought. All kid’s TV right now is a mindf*ck. I mean, just look at this:
At one point in that intro, the second duck is clapping his ass cheeks like hands. Do you know who else clapped their ass cheeks like hands?
Yup, they ass-clapped first. The originators of the “twerk” kids, right here.
Even looking at other animated shows that are aimed at adults (like the brilliant Rick and Morty) you realize, this “Ren N’ Stimpy ripple”, as pop culture will call it after I win the Pulitzer for this, is far-reaching, and realistically, unending.
So I think it is easy to see the big picture here. Though many strange and surreal cartoons and shows aimed at children have always existed, I think the reason you are seeing so many mindf*ck cartoons right now is because all the people writing and illustrating them are the ones like me who were raised on Ren N’ Stimpy. There is something even more amazing, bubbling under the surface of this though. This reveal is actually why I wanted to write this in the first place.
If we think the shows aimed at kids now are insane, wait thirty years, when all the kids raised on this stuff start making their own shows. Now that shit will be TRULY insane.
” Okay, you fat, bloated sacks of protoplasm. Go “like” Remy’s Facebook page, and get away from my beloved ice cream bar…”