05 August 2009

Free Associations, Ep. 10

Now just you put that bat down and hear me out on this.

Perhaps the similarities lie not so much in the characters of Ren and Stimpy themselves, but in a particular episode. In the episode Stimpy's Fan Club, it is revealed that Stimpy is by far the more popular of the duo, receiving scores of fan letters whilst Ren receives not a single one. Ren is quite hurt by this, so Stimpy attempts to make him feel better by apointing him president of the Stimpy Fan Club. This only forces Ren to read more and more of Stimpy's fan mail, which begins to drive him insane.

Ren's anger and resentment boils over in what has to be one of the most unsettling sequences ever included in what was allegedly a cartoon for kids. As he watches Stimpy sleep, Ren launches into a psychotic monologue and plots to kill Stimpy. He plans to snap Stimpy's neck, but suffers a rather graphic nervous breakdown before the deed can be carried out. The next morning, Ren disguises himself as Stimpy, and tells the mailman not to deliver any more fan mail. The mailman, however, only has one fan letter and it is for Ren. Ren viciously taunts Stimpy as he reads his fan letter aloud, only to find out that the letter was from Stimpy himself. Ren feels like a total ass, and Stimpy, ever the magnanimous one, forgives Ren.

To me, this seems like a fairly accurate parallel to the respective careers of Joan and Dorothy--the dumb one (Joan) became immensely popular while the smart one (Dorothy) suffered in obscurity. And although it (probably) never happened, the image of Joan and Dorothy doing the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy dance is so silly that it actually causes me physical pain.

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