Ren and Stimpy
One of the cartoons I used to watch in my childhood, “Ren and Stimpy,” in particular relates to the concepts of anxious parents and concerns over children’s television that we discussed in relation to the Chudacoff reading, “The Commercialization and Co-optation of Children’s Play.” “Ren and Stimpy” was created in 1991 by a Canadian animator named John Kricfalusi for the children’s channel Nickelodeon. The show focused on the adventures of a chihuahua named Ren and his dim-witted cat friend Stimpy, and the various gross and outrageous situations they would get themselves in to. This was one of the major concerns my parents had over me watching this program. In the article Cartoons Aren’t Real! Ren and Stimpy in Review, by Animation World Magazine, the author states that, “The Ren and Stimpy Show featured filth, illness, disease and mutilation to an unprecedented degree, making these horrors an integral part of the show.” My parents were very disturbed by the sorts of gross-out comedy and toilet humour that the show relied on for the majority of its punch lines. Whether it was scenes of outrageous violence and mutilation, or bodily fluids spraying all over the place, “Ren and Stimpy” was always good for a laugh, and contained a variety of great low-brow humor. My parents worried, however, that by allowing me to view things such as this at the young age where I was watching Nickelodeon, my growth would be stunted, and I would be exposed to things I didn’t yet understand. This related to the fears we discussed in relation to the Chudacoff reading. Parents were worried that if children saw inappropriate or adult content on the television, their emotional development would be stunted, and they would be prematurely aged by things they were too young to comprehend. I can’t say how much of this was true for me, but “Ren and Stimpy” was a staple in my television viewing as a child, and was one of the most ground-breaking shows of its time for its willingness to go to extreme lengths in depictions of the gross and disgusting.
A scene of gross-out humor common in Ren and Stimpy to serve as an example.