Animation Articles 04-2020

A selection of the best animation news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week ending January 25th, 2020.

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Ren & Stimpy at 20

I have just been informed that it has been 20 whole years since Ren & Stimpy first appeared on our screens.

Judging by their continued popularity, I’d say they’re certainly among the ranks of Mickey Mouse, The Flinstones and The Simpsons in terms of their impact.

Fart Humour Done Correctly

‘Son of Stimpy’ is one of the standout classics of the series. Not only is it completely absurd, it also caused a ruckus at the time for its plot. In it, Stimpy farts and believe that the offending gas has been transformed into a character, a ‘son’ if you will, whom he calls “Stinky”. Stimpy spends much of the episode searching for Stinky and convincing Ren that he exists.

At the time (and apparently still to this day) controversy surrounds the episode. Naturally, much of it centers on the potty humour of the episode and the central theme of farting.

Which is sad in a way because as supposedly rock bottom as Son of Stimpy is, the whole farting aspect is just one small part of the overall episode. The rest is about Stimpy searching for his long lost ‘son’  and the struggles he faces in his quest. This is where the real humour of the episode lies and supports the over-arching absurdity that people will often search for something that cannot be found.

Is it appropriate for kids? I can’t see why not. I mean, flatulence is a natural and essential bodily function. We make fun at crying and burping, why not farting too? In hindsight, Son of Stimpy is almost quaint in a way. The controversy around it serves to remind us of a different time, a time before fart gags and before they permeated animated features to the extent that they have.

While it may not be the greatest or most clever cartoon ever broadcast, Son of Stimpy nonetheless represents the high-water mark for toilet humour on TV that has never been equaled before or since.

Quick Note: The Music in Ren and Stimpy

In the case of Futurama, the only thing that differes between the original episodes and the ones after the resurrection is the music. It is widely known that the full orchestra used in the latter has been replaced by synthesized instruments. This is not a serious flaw in any way, it just smacks of a blatantly lower budget for the series.

Anyway, the wee point I would like to make today is that John K. used a fairly large library of old music that he used in Ren & Stimpy. There are two reasons for this, firstly, John’s love of old music/culture (note the stylized designs and fictitious commericals for powdered toast) and secondly it was a huge cost-saver.

The use of such music does not in any way detract from an otherwise superb show, but it is clear that the two go hand in hand. Listening to the music on its own pulls you back in time to an age of big bands, Hollywood in its prime, the wonder that is outer space and of course, the hustle and bustle of city life.

I’m not exactly sure what proportion of a shows budget goes towards music (if anybody knows, please enlighten me in the comments) and I’m pretty sure it varies from show to show and network to network. However, Ren & Stimpy continue to stand alone in their use of old music. I think it any show (or film for that matter) set back in the day should use old music. But perhaps a more elaborate analysis is needed, which will have to be another day.