Cartoon Creator destroys innocence

Brie Coder, Courier Staff

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We all have that one childhood cartoon that sticks with us. For some it’s educational cartoons like “Dora the Explorer.” But if you’re like me then your favorite cartoons growing up had off-color humor, wacky storylines, and two dysfunctional friends who never could find a solution to their problems. That cartoon was “The Ren & Stimpy Show.”

This show was about title characters Ren, an emotionally unstable Chihuahua, and Stimpy, a good-natured, dimwitted cat and their crazy adventures. It aired from 1991-1995 with five seasons, and 52 episodes. If you were old enough to remember watching it, then you’d know that it was one of the original cartoon shows on Nickelodeon along with “Doug” and “ Rugrats.”

Unfortunately like most shows, it had to come to an end. What made “The Ren & Stimpy Show” such a classic, was the fact that the show was intended to expand children’s minds and introduce them into the adult world. We all laughed when Ren was slapping Stimpy around, yet we didn’t understand why it was a bad thing to do in real life. We learned in time didn’t we?

The creator John Kricfalusi was a legend in the making, influencing shows that we have or are currently watching such as “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “South Park.” With how the world is now, we’d never think in a million years that our beloved cartoon creators would be accused of sexually assaulting children. In Kricfalusi’s case, his luck ran out on March 30, after being accused of making sexual advances to young girls during the prime of his career, making “The Ren & Stimpy Show.”

A recent story on BuzzFeed News, tells the shocking details of two women whose lives were ruined because of Kricfalusi’s advances towards them when they were teenagers. The first woman, Robin Byrd, told the outlet that when she was 13 years old she sent Kricfalusi a video about her ambition to create cartoon shows like he did. Byrd went on to say three years later after they first meet, things turned sexual.

At the age of 16, Byrd was given an invite to meet the cartoonist in Los Angeles and stay with him in his home. She said that he touched her private part through her pajamas. The incident continued and culminated when Kricfalusi again flew Byrd out to Los Angeles to have her intern at his studio Spumco. She then was working alongside him and was also his live in girlfriend. He was 25 years old at the time.

Byrd told BuzzFeed “He ruined a good bit of my childhood and my early adulthood. [He] gave me PTSD, and forced me to change careers, putting my life 10 years or more behind. He is an abuser in the way that he will pull you into a relationship with him and then tell you who to be and what he wants from you.”

The second woman to come out, Katie Rice, had a similar interest in becoming a cartoon artist and would talk to him on AOL when she was 14 years old. He went on to tell her in their messages that he was “crazy about her, and if he ever made her sexually aroused.”

When Rice began working for him in 2000 when she was 18 years old, she noticed that Kricfalusi had photographs of naked girls, one being of a 10-year-old child on his computer. She reported the images three times to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“I became a better artist by working for him, I’m not grateful for it. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I were a worse artist now and I didn’t have all this bulls—to deal with,” said Rice in an interview with BuzzFeed.

Kricfalusi’s lawyer stated to the same outlet that the cartoonist had struggled for many years with mental illness, which was eventually diagnosed in 2008. “To that point, for nearly three decades he had relied primarily on alcohol to self-medicate. Since that time he has worked feverishly on his mental health issues, and has been successful in stabilizing his life over the last decade. This achievement has allowed John the opportunity to grow and mature in ways he’d never had a chance at before.”

He also went on to say that Rice’s allegations of child pornography are not correct. No matter what excuses Kricfalusi is trying to use, it still does not justify his inappropriate behavior. It now dampens the mood to watch “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” which is unfortunate because that show gave young kids and adults, a good chuckle. Now it just gives us the heebie jeebies.

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