It’s Cartoon Friday, again!
The Ren & Stimpy Show originally began airing in 1991, helmed by John Kricfalusi. Kricfalusi was a protege of Ralph Bakshi, having worked with him on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures until a shot of Mighty snorting flower petals got the show canceled. This pedigree might explain much of what came after — though Ren & Stimpy was wildly popular with kids and retains a cult following to this day, the gross and sometimes risque humor also generated a lot of controversy. Various episodes were censored or banned outright.
Kricfalusi’s creation has become more respected in the years since — he even recently directed a Simpsons’ couch gag! Setting aside the gross out humor, Ren & Stimpy was actually quite stylish, heavily influenced by a warped 1950s sensibility and full of great jazzy instrumental music from its opening moments. The fluid, madcap animation was interspersed with highly detailed and artistic, albeit often disgusting closeups.
One of the many episodes which didn’t survive the censors cuts was “Powdered Toast Man.” Breaking away from the titular chihuahua and feline, it centers on the bizarre superhero and breakfast mascot, originally introduced in this short “commercial.” In eleven minutes, this cartoon manages to send up the superhero genre, religion and even politics. Gary Owens, previously on Cartoon Friday as Space Ghost, plays the hero and Frank Zappa (yes, that Frank Zappa) voices the Pope! Disrespect of not one but two world leaders proved too much and the episode rarely aired without substantial cuts, but this YouTube video contains every transgressive moment.
I think it’s the last moments, where Powdered Toast Man has become the POTUS, that Firedoglake readers will most appreciate.
What are your favorite cartoons? I’ll try to use one in an future installment.
It’s an open conversation in the comments.
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Photo by Heather Paul released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.