Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Almost 10 reasons why you should be watching The Ren and Stimpy Show (on Netflix)

     Hello boys and girls, it's your old pal, Stinky Wizzleteats. Okay not really...and let's face it, if you're reading this (and I doubt that you are) you're most likely a 36 year old man-child living with your parents, eating a microwave burrito, watching re-runs of Happy Days. Well one of the reasons you're probably still sleeping in your race car bed in your parents' basement is because they didn't let you watch the show I'm about to comprehensively review for you. What show is it, you ask? Well maybe if you didn't interrupt people all the time, they wouldn't hate you so much, and you wouldn't be sleeping in a race car bed in your parents' basement. But I digress. The show (actually, it's an AMAZING CARTOONY PICTURE) is called The Ren and Stimpy Show, and I'm going to lay down the law as to why you shouldn't fall in with the crowd of people who "don't much care" for such "grotesque humor." What are the reasons, you ask? Seriously? What did I just say? Good god you're irritating. No wonder my sister's boyfriend made you eat dirt in 7th grade.
     I want to point out right now that I'm talking about the original Ren and Stimpy Show; I am not talking about the newer Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" which aired briefly on SPIKE in 2003, and of which we must never speak again.

     You should be watching at least an episode of this fine cartoon every night, because The Ren and Stimpy Show is now on Netflix! It's so fucking convenient that you have no excuse. NO EXCUSE. Now, in case you have an excuse, I'm going to go over that too. Here are some common excuses for not watching Ren and Stimpy:

Excuse A: "It's too gross/stupid/vulgar."

Response A: You are truly a sad fucking excuse for a human being. Life is not always dainty and wonderful and flowery and nice. The artistic way in which Ren and Stimpy captures the vulgarities of life is what makes it beautiful. I suppose you're one of the types who won't read Huck Finn because you might accidentally see the "N" word or watch a horror movie because you might accidentally get scared. Oh boo hoo you poor thing you MAKE ME SICK. It's the concept of the "sublime" people. You take in art because it makes you FEEL something, whether it be happiness, sadness, fear, disgust; it's the simple act of enjoying those sensations, of being put on edge, that this show taps into so wonderfully well. So if you are not afraid to break out of your consumerist, imagination-defeating bubble, then read some poetry, listen to some music you haven't heard before, and watch THE REN AND STIMPY SHOW. I promise you, if you actually take the time to absorb the content, rather than just take it at face value (like the idiot who laughs through every horror movie and then complains about how lame it was) you will agree with me on the points that I'm about to lay down [below]. Also, watch it with FRIENDS (if you have those)! Laugh, squirm, enjoy it with them.

Excuse B: "It's pointless."

Response B: Okay, seriously, it's a cartoon, it doesn't need to have a moral agenda. Moreover, the episodes (if you actually took the brain power to have a serious watch) often make political, social, and other pop culture statements or references [see below for examples] that (along with the Simpsons which was just starting to do this at the same time) made it the first cartoon of its kind.

Excuse C: "That's a cartoon for kids. As an adult, I wouldn't enjoy it."

Responce C: *smacks head*, sweet cheese of nazareth you are so close-minded. Can't you ever enjoy something beyond it's popular boundaries? For the love of all things holy, be an individual for once. Think for yourself. This cartoon has been consistently acclaimed over the years for being enjoyable for both children and adults. In fact, kids are LUCKY if they get to see Ren and Stimpy these days. They don't allow kids to watch anything anymore that doesn't turn their brains to consumerist mush. This is probably the only cartoon I've ever seen that treated kids like human beings, and not retarded baby-kids.

     Now, please pay attention while I expound the virtues of Ren and Stimpy in no particular order:

1. The music - Perhaps the best thing about the music in Ren and Stimpy is that it's not some stupid brain hemorrhaging kiddie song with an obnoxious chorus of kids singing back-up. No sir, instead we get blues, jazz, classical, and folk - and the only jingles you hear are satirical tunes poking fun at traditional kid-geared commercials, like dolls or breakfast foods. Seriously, the music in RnS is AWESOME. I can't stress that enough. It works very well with the cartoon's 1940s Clampett-inspired artwork.

2. Political/social/pop culture content - Ren and Stimpy first came on the air in 1991, when I believe the Simpsons was about in its 3rd or 4th season, which is right when they finally started getting political (and funny). This was the dawning of a new era, when we began to see social commentary in cartoons not only for adults, but for children as well. It still amazes me to this day that RnS made it as many seasons as they did while giving kids a humorous, satirical, and refreshingly imaginative viewpoint to reflect on things in their own lives (later on, cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants would construct an experience inspired by RnS, except not nearly as edgy of course - not even close).

RnS's tongue in cheek narrative is riddled with tongue-in-cheek pokes at pop culture as well as things Texas schoolboard officials would paddle you for, such as:

a. Ren and Stimpy are themselves suggestively coupled with each other, apparently in a domestic partnership as a male dog and cat. On top of that, Ren abuses Stimpy constantly, beating and smacking him and calling him names. Of course, you will love this dynamic, because Ren's constant anger, greediness, criticism, and superiority complex are carefully balanced with the brotherhood he shares with his best friend, Stimpy. As he yells at the salesmen in the episode "To Salve and Salve Not," "how dare you take advantage of my blithering idiot!"

See, they're best buds.

b. Everything about the character Powdered Toastman (a spandex-clad hero with toast for a head who represents RnS's favorite breakfast food, powdered toast; he's also Pastor Toastman by day). In one instance, PTM saves a kitten that is about to be run over by a truck. How does he do it? He shoots down an airliner which then crashes into and explodes the truck. He picks up the cat to see if it's okay, only to receive another distress call, at which point he throws the cat offscreen where we hear the screeching of tires  fofllowed by a crashing sound and presume that it is killed by another vehicle. In another instance, PTM becomes president of the US after the previous pres gets his johnny caught in his zipper. It's cold in the oval office, and PTM decides to heat it up by burning some old "dusty papers" that are lying around. We see from reading the titles that they are the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Of course, Nickelodeon cut this part out when it aired on their network.

"Powdered Toast" was deemed inedible unless Powdered
Toast Man had farted on it.
3. Controversy - Which leads me to my next point, the controversy surrounding the show. You see, it took a bit, but the idiots at Nickelodeon started catching on to what creator John Kricfalusi (genius) was up to, and it scared them. They started getting all butthurt and all "oh Jesus think of the children they can't see farts or people getting slapped!" But they didn't want kids to see sophisticated sarcasm like the joke about the constitution either. So they started censoring the show. They even pulled an episode or two. And we all know that a kids show must be fucking awesome if it starts getting censored by its own network.

No sir, you won't see this in a kids cartoon again.

4. Artist controlled cartoon - Ren and Stimpy was the first artist controlled cartoon in a long time, like, since the golden age. That means Kricfalusi and friends got to do everything, write storyboards, illustrate, the whole bit as opposed to the previous model where everything was created from the top-down, with the networks in charge and cartoons built around merchandise that could be sold, such as action figures. I do have to give credit to the execu-turds at Nickelodeon for experimenting with this method of cartoon making, as it turned out so well in our favor.

5. Inspired many other cartoonists - Wikipedia says Beavis and Butthead, South Park, and Spongebob. I believe it. The show was also parodied on the Simpsons several times which I think it awesome.

6. Famous voice actors/cartoonist done voices - Kricfalusi himself voices Ren Hoek, and according to Wikipedia was able to attract the following guest voices:  Frank Zappa, Randy Quaid, Gilbert Gottfried, Rosie O'Donnell, Dom DeLuise, Phil Hartman, Mark Hamill, Frank Gorshin, and Tommy Davidson.

7. Premiere cartoon on Nickelodeon - Ren and Stimpy premiered with two other shows as THE FIRST CARTOONS EVER on Nickelodeon in the summer of 1991 (alongside Doug and Rugrats). Thus, if you are a true child of the 90s, you really have no excuse but to dig this show up again. What's that? You have an excuse? See above for my response.

The "Tooth Beaver" smashing a tooth nerve ending
with his mallet.
8. Artwork - Last, and certainly not least - in fact, most important of all - is the awe inspiring artwork that characterized the cartoon and revolutionized cartoon making, just look at some of these stills:

Note the splotchy background, which RnS became
famous for. In this shot it adds an element of
euphoria and happy dementia.
Note the simplicity of this shot.
I'm genuinely surprised that this was about the most
disgusting picture I could find. Guess you'll just have to watch.

So there you have it, straight from the Mr. Horse's mouth, the resident Ren and Stimpy expert, Dilly. I invite you to comment and tell me your thoughts on the cartoon, whether you love it or hate it. And if you hate it, well then I invite you to use this as your response:

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