Before a neurotic dog split himself in half to turn into an indifferent and evil creature, his silly cat best friend showed him the third butt cheek that grew on his back after a failed experiment. This completely ridiculous sentence is not a quote from someone on mushrooms. It’s the first scene of a Ren and Stimpy episode, a nineties cartoon that seemed to have no sense or plot. Ren was a hysterical Chihuahua who would take advantage of his naïve buddy Stimpy, a chubby cat. Both characters lived adventures many of us did not understand but still made us laugh.
When we rewatch shows like Ren and Stimpy, we realize that there’s a hidden meaning we never grasped when we first saw them. An entire generation grew up on Disney, Nickelodeon, and other networks aimed at kids. But now that we’re older, we don’t need to do a thorough analysis to uncover some of the obvious connotation of substance use.
If we only pay attention, we’ll notice peculiar attitudes from these characters. Weirdly shaped creatures with eccentric personalities entangling themselves in questionable situations amidst a grotesque aesthetic lead us to believe these animated friends are inviting us to try all sorts of naughty things.
Just like Ren resembled a crack addict and Stimpy was a cat tripping on acid, there were several characters from our childhood that appeared to be on some sort of drug.
Both were the band’s laziest members. Yet they were also the Mystery Machine’s paranoid element. There’s a famously vague scene where there’s smoke trailing behind Shaggy, as if he and Scooby were smoking a joint moments earlier. Also these two constantly had the munchies in every episode.
This bird never seemed to have an off button, constantly running through the screen in a similar fashion to someone on cocaine. It’s impossible to find an episode where this critter was not shown starry-eyed, pupils dilated, and eagerly pecking.
This larva shamelessly smoked a hookah in front of Alice. He’d create bizarre shapes with each exhalation, only to then suggest the protagonist to eat mushrooms so she can shrink or grow. Is he a counselor or a dealer?
This gangly character’s psychomotor activity seemed to be altered in some way. As if he’d just sniffed glue, he’d attempted to skate down the street or play baseball despite barely being able to walk a straight line.
The can full of green stuff this sailor would munch on before saving Olive seemed more like a shot of steroids making his muscles spontaneously grow. It wasn’t just his brute force, but also how he’d feel invincible and become aggressive after eating what he called spinach.
The bizarre behavior from this trio could be a result of a whole cocktail of substances. Yet the first thing we could deduce from these unbearable rabbits was that they were on LSD. Each episode they’d come up with some random plan that appeared to be a scene from psychedelic trip.
Most of us probably never imagined our animated friends to be anything but energetic and happy. But as we take a look back, we can connect the dots and relate several scenes and characters with particular substance effects. Is it all a big coincidence or is there a reason behind it? We’ll never know, but we’ll definitely see these shows and movies in a new light.
Translated by María Suárez