Everyone has heard the legends that crude, sexual references and jokes have been sneaked into Disney cartoons over the years. There’s a big dick on the poster for The Little Mermaid. The naked woman in The Rescuers. The floating “SEX” cloud in The Lion King. And who could forget the gang-bang in The Brave Little Toaster?
But enough about those filthy degenerates over at Disney. Besides, there’s a difference between merely sneaking words like “sex” (tee hee!) into your film for less than one second of screen-time and actually incorporating cleverly placed dirty jokes into the script. Over the years, cartoon creators have lobbed plenty of these over the heads of the network censors, and part of the fun of getting older (well…the only fun part of getting older) is going back and watching the cartoons we loved as kids and appreciating them on a whole new level. Here are some of our favorite moments:
“Rugrats”: Grandpa Lou’s Porn Stash
“Rugrats” was the obnoxious Nickelodeon show you had to suffer through to get to “Rocko’s Modern Life” (more on that one later). But they did have a great character in Grandpa Lou:
So there you have it. After the babies go to bed, grandpa spanks it. To bizarre, space-themed porn.
“2 Stupid Dogs”: Backseat Action at the Drive-in
A short-lived Hanna-Barbera series that ran on TBS in the mid-’90s, “2 Stupid Dogs” featured the occasional mild adult gag. (The show featured several Spümcø artists contributing material, as well as small contributions from “Ren & Stimpy” creator John Kricfalusi himself.) There was very little subtle about this scene, however:
I don’t know this, but I’m going to guess that this was not over the heads of the networks censors. No, for whatever reason, they said, “Ah hell, let’s run this.” The cars are rocking back and forth. Their shocks are squeaking. Even the people in the car on the movie screen are doing it.
“Animaniacs”: The Infamous “Fingerprints” Gag
This may be the filthiest moment in cartoon history:
Two things strike me: first, that little smile on Prince’s face when he hears “finger Prince” kills me. Second, the visual images created by this whole scenario are about as disturbing as you can get.
“Rocko’s Modern Life”: The No-Tell Motel
As far sneaking adult content into a show, the creators of “Rocko’s Modern Life” were kings. This scene, from the 17th episode of the second season (entitled “Road Rash”), only made it onto the air once before being cut from re-runs:
“Rocko” was full of innuendos and other shenanigans. The main characters hung out in a place called Chokey Chicken (it took the network three years to catch on; the name was changed to “Chewy Chicken” in season four). Rocko held a job as a phone sex operator. He grabbed a bear by the balls. He took a “doggy-style bowl ride” and was instructed to get on his hands and knees. Grandpa Wolf suggested they “eat the beaver.” And his best friend Heffer used a milking machine as a sex toy. This is only the beginning.
Either the jokes in “Rocko’s Modern Life” were too subtle to be picked up by the types of people who would protest them, or they benefited from airing alongside “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” which drew much ire for their over-the-top style. Which leads us to…
“The Ren & Stimpy Show”: Stimpy and Sven’s Circus Fun
“Juggler” and “bearded lady” kind of tip you off to the activities going on “in the closet.” Stimpy’s pronouncement, “I”m a sword swallower!” followed by the gulping noise and the “oops” seals it.
“The Ren & Stimpy Show” was accused for years of repeated homosexual innuendo and speculation that the eponymous characters were gay. Their resurrection in “Ren & Stimpy’s Adult Party Cartoon” confirmed it in multiple episodes.
“Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures”: Mighty Snorts Cocaine
This is the gag that tops the list. It was a moment so subtle and, by today’s standards, so tame, that it seems unbelievable that it caused the entire show to get cancelled because this piece of shit complained. But it did. Here it is:
“Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” was a groundbreaking television show. Broadcast on Saturday mornings on CBS from 1987 to 1988, the show was the brainchild of animation legend Ralph Bakshi and was a springboard for many cartoonists, animators, and voice actors. They included, among others, John Kricfalusi (“Ren & Stimpy”), Jim Reardon (“The Simpsons,” “Tiny Toons,” Wall-E), Tom Minton (“Animaniacs,” “Tiny Toons”), Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series”), Rich Moore (“Futurama”), and Maggie Roswell (“The Simpsons”). During a time when Saturday morning cartoons were formulaic devices to sell toys (like this, or this, or this, or even the goddamned “Tiger Sharks“), “Mighty Mouse” brought craziness and creative animation back to cartoons.
In “The Littlest Tramp,” Mighty is seen snorting the remains of a pink flower (not white, as many media sources claimed) that was crushed earlier in the episode. Though Bakshi vehemently defended his show, the controversy first cost John Kricfalusi his job and, ultimately, led to the show’s demise. Bakshi discusses “Mighty Mouse” and the controversy here.
“Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” is now out on DVD. If you’ve never seen this (or have long since forgotten about it), get ready to discover a classic.