Ren & Stimpy, the animated show about a psychotic chihuahua and a very dumb cat, was an acid trip in cartoon form that many of us unwittingly consumed during our formative years. If you've blocked out the memories then let me provide you with a refresher:
This right here is why so many of us cry when we're hugged, but it's Ren and Stimpy's off-the-wall aesthetic and boundary-pushing sensibilities that make it unique to this day and have led it to become a cult-classic. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise then, in an era in which everything 90's, from Daria to Beavis and Butthead, is getting some sort of reboot or spinoff, that Ren and Stimpy would see some kind of revival as well. But it is a bit of a surprise, and that's because we've already tried this before.
Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon premiered on June 26th, 2003, for Spike TV and, unlike the previous version that aired over ten years prior on a kid's network, made clear its target audience. It also was a spectacular flop, lasting only three episodes before being canceled. It's not clear exactly why Adult Party Cartoon failed, but if I were to venture a guess, it would be because the original Ren & Stimpy was marketed to kids, so the sexual innuendo and crude references were subversive. But, in an adult context, saying "anal" isn't subversive. It's boring. It's how you take your medicine after your acid reflux flare up, and you're sick of it.
But now that we're on the topic of saying anal to kids, there's another disturbing wrinkle in this latest Ren & Stimpy reboot. The creator of both the original Ren & Stimpy and Adult Party Cartoon, John Kricfalusi, has had multiple allegations of sexually abusing underage girls, his lawyer even admitting in a statement that Kricfalusi (at the time in his late 30's) had a 16-year old girlfriend. If that's part of his defense, then god knows what he's trying to keep under wraps. Kricfalusi's story is similar to the allegations surrounding Bryan Singer: Kricfalusi was known as a "genius," and his actions were apparently tolerated because of his talent. A documentary titled Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story, which details just how awful Kricfalusi was to work with, is set to release August 14th.
Which brings us back to the conundrum of this latest reboot. Kricfalusi isn't involved with the project, nor should he be, but if this is the "genius" that made Ren & Stimpy great in the first place, and he still couldn't transfer that success over to adult audiences, then what hope does it have without him? Perhaps we'll find out, or perhaps we'll learn that some '90s classics should just stay in the '90s.
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Top Image: Nickelodeon