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The Animation Pimp: Pleasure and Pain: 'Ren & Stimpy’s' Adult Cartoon Party

Known for being racy himself, the Animation Pimp tackles the adultness ofSpike TVs new primetime The Strip line-up.

Insignificant and occasionally interesting contributions to the cognition of reality

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris J. Robinson.

Illustration by Andreas Hykade. Courtesy of Chris J. Robinson.

I dont have cable but I managed to get a hold of these new primetime adult cartoons showing on TNN, Spike TV, Bud, Guy, Dude, Sociopath, Yo, Big Daddy, Old Man or whatever the fug this Viacom-owned network aimed at closeted breeders afraid of real-life women is called. These new toons are apparently gonna be full of raunch and tude. No kiddies, housewives or sissy boys allowed here. The opening credit starts with a bang: CARTOONS FOR F**CKING ADULTS (and for the blind, a narrated interpretation of those words: Cartoons for BLEEEP Adults. Wow this is gonna be some raunchy kick-ass stuff cause man they really seem to mean it. Real edgy stuff. Must be since theyre sorta using REAL heavy words like F**K. Im a little ashamed to admit that Im not really hip on the slang their using. What does F**K mean? Apparently, when spoken, it translates into a beeping sound, like that of an answering machine. So, sorry, Im not entirely sure what it all means, but it must be real bad.

First up is Striperella. I twitch when I see creative consultant: Pam Anderson. There are two writers. One of the first, and best, lines is: Show me Some Titties! Hey, is that the REAL Pam Anderson? Ya gotta figure that this animated version must in fact be more real than the living cut-and-paste one. Sort of a Playboy cartoon meets Marvel Comics look. The plot of the first episode seems to be about thin models chubbing out. Apparently the characters know that their dialogue and actions are stupid because they are continually commenting on them ala Groucho Marx. Ha ha. Its funny, especially the 21st time. Chief Stroganov is Striperellas boss. Get it? Stroganov is a type of food. Two writers.

Im on to episode #2. This cheap Jon Lovitz-sounding villain is actually pretty funny oh..wait here it comes FINALLY the TITTIES! Hey wait a minute! How come its all blurry where their boobies should be? Its what, 10:00 or 11:00 pm. The whole premise of this evening is to celebrate the unmentionable and apparently the unseeable too. Maybe you need special glasses or earplugs. Strange, cause they arent really titties per se, theyre digitally rendered impressions of ideal titties. I guess the problem is that the creators have never actually seen any titties. That would explain it. That makes sense, cause, I mean, why on earth would you blur out not-real titties? Its not like theyd be fleshy titties, just drawn titties that dont really exist anywhere but on a harddrive or, more likely, a floppy disk.

Theres nothing really erotic about this show unless youre 10.

Someone said this is sexist. Theyre right. Its pretty demeaning to men.

Gary the Rat

I spent all my sarcasm so phuck ME, IT and YOU.

Ren & Stimpy

For the record, I dont find John Ks films all that funny (although when I saw Jose this Ottawa animator and real funny guy who I last saw looking for pain relief for some dental work at shoppers drug mart appearing as the bartender in the new Ren & Stimpys, I did laugh for a minute), but I also happen to think that Mans Best Friend, (most of) Boo-Boo Goes Wild, and the first two new Ren & Stimpys that I saw are brilliant.

I love Kricfalusis, Ill stop when I fucking feel like it sense of timing. Unlike most animators, Kricfalusi stretches a scene, not to make something funny or to overplay some joke for the schmuck who missed it, but to hold onto some dark, grotesque moment (like a booger hanging from a nose) and squeeze every ounce of pain, tragedy and humiliation out of it. Sure we laugh a little, but then the laughter is replaced by an awkward silence, then a bit of frustration, even anger, then you become disturbed and then start laughing again and then it all just becomes kinda surreal, like youve smoked some Dutch skunk. In these little moments, Kricfalusi takes us through a boomerang of emotions.

Kricfalusi is animations answer to GG Allin and Bob Flanagan, a pseudo-masochist (OK lets not get too crazy, unlike Allin and Flanagan, the only real pain Kricfalusi feels is in his head and hands) using rage and violence for pleasure, pain and release. Flanagan, in particular, is a great comparison. Flanagan had a pretty damn lousy childhood. To combat the agonizing pain of cystic fibrosis, he started jerking off and experimenting sexually. With this, he found a kind of balance between pain and pleasure or more than that pain and pleasure merged.

Kricfalusis work embodies the same ideas. Ren and Stimpy (although Ren in particular) get off on loving and abusing one another. They seem to thrive off their opposing extremes in behavior. I dont want to analyze Kricfalusi, but I was sitting on the can the other day reading an interview he did in Animation Blast (a damn fine swell slap-bang-daddy-bitch of a magazine), and he spoke of his stern father (the model for George Liquor and Kricfalusis updated Ranger Smith) and his dislike of authority figures with their bizarre rules and reasons. Did Kricfalusi suffer as a kid? I dont fuggin know, but something is sure as shit fueling these films (check out Ren Seeks Help) because these are mighTEE passionate denouncements of authority. And yet Kricfalusi recognizes the beast in himself.

My hatred for my overly authoritative father peaked when I became just like the fugger. But hey lets stop with the therapy. Ive said it before: violence and conflict are natural ingredients in who we are. Sometimes I want to slap a few of you around, but I dont. Sometimes I want to kick my dog or your dog, but I dont. That doesnt change the fact that I still feel rage from time to time. Most of the time I write it out, box it out or Jerry Lee Lewis it out. Its good, its healthy and no one gets hurt. Kricfalusis films reflect that same twirling contradictory nature. He gets and gives pleasure from unleashing his rage and anger through his pen(i)s.

Now, to me its no wonder that traditional cartoon folks like Mike Barrier (among others) seem disappointed and ill at ease with Kricfalusis latest offerings because, well, frankly, theyre not all that funny or cartoony in the usual sense. Aside from Flanagan, these new Ren & Stimpys (like Mans Best Friend and Boo-Boo Goes Wild) are closer to the nightmarish dream worlds of David Lynch, Igor Kovalyov, Jan Svankmajer and The Brothers Quay, than they are to our traditional perception of cartoons. The Quays, Lynch and Svankmajer use a lot of symbolism, but more than that, they create atmospheres, tones, impressions and fragments. You often leave their films confused, not entirely sure what you saw, but feeling a strong emotional impression (yes, boredom is a valid impression). These are artists who make you work for answers that are not there in the first place. Meaning is in your hands.

Kricfalusis work has the same effect. Theyre hypnotic. You drift through this cesspool of a world filled with obscene, gross and violent stuff, but you just get used to it. You get used to Ren and Stimpy living in this dirty, dark world. Kricfalusis worldview is nihilistic, but in some weird way, the heart of these films is these two imperfect guys struggling to find any strand of imperfect love (which sometimes involves violence) they can in this cold, dank world filled (literally although I guess its not really human refuse since its drawn) with human refuse. Kricfalusi doesnt judge this world. It just is. Its as if hes saying yeah the world can be dark and violent and filled with all sorts of absurd, grotesque and unexpected turns but ya just keep going on, you keep trying to find any pleasure you can in the muck and fuck of it all.

For my money, Kricfalusi has taken the cartoon to a higher and perhaps more honest level. Hes removed the harness and the playpen. And yet to call his work extreme or exaggerated is misleading. In the same interview that I was reading on the can, Kricfalusi spoke about his desire to exaggerate existing Hanna-Barbera characters. We all know, he says, that Fred Flintstone is a fat fuck and that Barney is a hee haw. But its only implied, and never explored in any great detail. We know that Fred (or Homer Simpson for that matter) probably runs a finger along his asscrack to smell his own shit. We know that Barney probably tries to suck himself off whenever Bettys out of the house. But Kricfalusi is wrong to call this exaggeration. This is plain ol down and dirty realism. Now, do we need to see this? Apparently we do because why else are people creating these animation Websites featuring Shaggy shagging Scooby or Wilma carpet-bombing Betty?

My writer chum, Matt Firth (by the way do yourself a favor and buy Matts great book of short stories, Can You Take Me There, Now? You can e-mail me for details) and I were talking recently about the boundaries of fiction and non-fiction, I was saying that what I love about works like Nick Tosches Dino and Hellfire is that the apparent fictional or exaggerated parts of these biographies actually uncover more truths about the subject than any amount of facts ever could. Kricfalusis work is the same way. By becoming seemingly more extreme and out there, he is, in fact, taking us closer to the unspoken and unseen essence of human nature.

Chris Robinson is but a man. His hobbies include squirrel taunting, goat thumping, meat dancing and elderly peeping. You can find the results at http://asifa.net/robinson.