Apr 11, 2015

Ren and Stimpy: Nickelodeon's Disgusting Gay Couple

In the early 1990s, everyone in West Hollywood was watching the Nickelodeon cartoon series Ren and Stimpy (1991-1995), a parody of the idiotic animated cartoons of the 1960s.

Including the puerile commercials, like "Log" and "Powdered Toast."  Powdered Toast Man became a cultural icon of his own.

The main stars were Ren the viciously psychotic chihuahua and Stimpy the excessively stupid cat, who parodied cartoon duos like Ruff and Reddy and Yogi Bear and Boo Boo,

Except they were entirely obsessed with farting, nose-picking, and body fluids, often drawn in nauseatingly grotesque detail.

It was rather hard to watch, but we watched anyway, for the obvious gay subtexts.

 Ren and Stimpy are presented as an overtly romantic couple. They share a house and a bed; they reminisce about their wedding, and Stimpy gives birth to a sentient fart, a product of their sexual union.

In some episodes, Stimpy is a stereotypical 1950's wife, passive and nurturing, responsible for cooking, cleaning, and ironing Ren's underwear.

Ren is socially and sexually the aggressor; in "Son of Stimpy", he tries to seduce Stimpy into the bedroom, but is rebuffed with "is that all you ever think about?"

Sexual activity is also implied when Ren's cousin Sven Hoek visits, and Stimpy is instantly attracted to him.

 But there was something off about subtexts.

It took awhile to realize that they were deliberate, and vicious.

The hints of same-sex activity and same-sex romance are presented as gross, disgusting, hard to watch.  Like sentient farts and "magic nose goblins."

Expected to elicit an uncomfortable laugh.
"Two dudes banging each other!  Sick!"

Stories about animator John Kricfalusi's homophobia began to emerge.  He made homophobic jokes and slurs constantly, and refused Robin Williams as a voice artist because "he's a fag."

After two seasons, he was fired -- not due to homophobia, due to his horrible working relationship with Nickelodeon.

In the summer of 2003, the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party appeared briefly on MTV.  This time there was no question: the duo was presented as a gay couple.

In cartoons that were unwatchable, unfailing grotesque and disturbing.  Ren and Stimpy live in a homeless man's mouth and then in a spittoon.