Satire -- It's only a little joke...
Are The Rugrats Having Fun Yet?
In the 2/6/2000 Zippy The Pinhead comic strip, Zippy talks to a cook at a diner about the Rugrats, and how their "mouth movements are totally weird". Shortly before this, however, Zippy comments about the diner's menu by saying, "Your menu has more plot twists than an episode of Rugrats!" Are the Rugrats' plots really formulaic and linear? Only Bill Griffith -- and Zippy -- knows for sure.
And in a Sunday strip on 7/28/2002 (below), Bill Griffith takes another jab at Rugrats by showing what Zippy would look like if he was a Klasky-Csupo character; various styles are presented, including one that had him look like a Rugrat.
It should be known that Bill Griffith has been courting Hollywood (and vice versa) to do some type of project involving Zippy for the last several years.
(Above: Klasky-Csupo's Zippy, as published in the
7/28/2002 issue of The Boston Globe; © 2002 Bill Griffith.)
Rugrats Has The Baby Blues
In the 3/4/2001 edition of Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott's Baby Blues strip, Wanda and Darryl are having a post-dinner discussion about the problem with public education these days. Here's how that strip went:
(Below: The 3/4/2001 Baby Blues, courtesy of Varakorn Ungvichian; © 2001 Baby Blues Partnership.)
By the way -- don't bother researching; neither the quote nor episode number exists.
Can we worry now?
Cracked Magazine (#313, December, 1996) has beaten Mad Magazine
in the Rugrats parody race. In Cracked, our Rugrats are featured
on the front cover, with Tommy stuck in a mouse trap (get it?
RugRATS). Also, there's a parody of Rugrats as part
of Cracked's salute to Nickelodeon, hosted by none other than a Bart
Simpson lookalike. The parody shows things like Angelica smoking and Tommy
sticking a fork into an electrical outlet.
(Left: The "ACME Rugrat Trap", as seen again in #342 (March 2000) of Cracked; ©2000 American Media Consumer Entertainment, Inc. Tommy is © Viacom; "ACME" is a trademark of Warner Bros.)
In the March 2000 issue (#342), Cracked cracked open the Rugrats once
again, as part of their special salute to animation. The Rugrats bits
can be found on the flipside, in the "Toon People" parody (with Beavis
(without Butthead) on the cover, it promises see-through Rugrats
diapers). In addition to the "Rugrat Trap" joke in the "Toonspotting"
section (above), Tommy can be seen with other characters in "Toon
Tracks" applauding to a giant can of "Raid" bug spray...
(Right: From issue #342 (March 2000) of Cracked; ©2000 American Media Consumer Entertainment, Inc. Tommy, of course is © Viacom; all other characters copyrighted by their owners.)
And in the "February Calendar", February 2nd is designated "Sniff A Rugrat's
Diaper Day"; however, the picture is kind of tasteless. Instead, from "Toon
Tracks", here's a picture of Mike, Lu and Og (watch them on Cartoon Network,
if you have a chance) with Mickey Mouse, if he aged according to real
(Right: From issue #342 (March 2000) of Cracked; ©2000 American Media Consumer Entertainment, Inc. Mike, Lu & Og are © Cartoon Network; Mickey Mouse will always be ® & © Disney.)
To this day, even in light of the Rugrats' increasing popularity and
The Rugrats Movies, Alfred E. Neuman is
still steering clear of the Rugrats, though Mad now sticks
in a Rugrat or two in a cameo in their film parodies; at right is their first
appearance in a parody of Contact, from issue # 363, November 1997.
(Right: From issue #363 (November 1997) of Mad; ©1997 EC Publications, Inc. Tommy is © Viacom. Image taken from the Totally MAD CD-Rom; special thanks to Chris Painter.)
They appeared again a few months later, this time in this Titanic
parody from issue # 369, May 1998. Can you find the Rugrat in this scene?
(Right: From issue #369 (May 1998) of Mad; ©1998 EC Publications, Inc. Chuckie, obviously, is © Viacom; all other characters copyrighted by their owners. Special thanks to Chris Painter.)
Even though Mad is staying clear away from the Rugrats in the
parody & satire department, other publications are picking up the slack.
One clear example is in Zillions, a consumer magazine for kids,
published by the same people who publish Consumer Reports. Each issue
includes detachable "wacky cards", all featuring fake items for sale at
outlandish prices and with too-good-to-be-true claims. In one issue, there
was a card for the "Ad Advenger", where, at a push of a button, the
star of the show would interrupt the commercial that interrupted the show.
Here, an Angelica look-alike socks it to an aspirin pitchman for interrupting
a Rugrats-esque TV show.
(Left & Right: Front & back of the "Ad Advenger" wacky card from an unknown issue of Zillions magazine (I bought these cards in bulk at a local library); © Consumer's Union.)
And south of the border in Mexico, Rugrats recently became a target for satire in El Chamuco, a satire magazine that likes to poke fun at Mexican government officials. Carolina Hernandez T. explains:
The parody was called PRIrats, aventuras en puñales, y otros cuentos para niños. Maybe I have to explain the meaning of the title: PRI-rats: Well, here PRI is the short name of a political party "Partido Revolucionario Institucional", this party is the one of our current president. Rats, besides the animal, also means in Mexico "thief". that is because PRI's polititians are known as corrupt people. Aventuras en puñales: It means "Adventures in Gays", because Puñal, besides knife, also means "gay". I'm not sure why they put a gay reference on the title, maybe becuase puñal sounds like "pañal" (diaper). The cover of this magazine is more or less the same cover of the movie's video: the babies on the reptar wagon. but these babies are a little diferent, here are the ones I could identify: Tommy: Our last president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, it's Tommy's body with the head of the man (by the was he is bald too, and with huge ears). Dil: Our current president Ernesto Zedillo (the president's head on Dil's body). Chuckie: Labastida Ochoa, one of the pre-candidates for president of the PRI (elections will be next year). Spike: Another pre-candidate Roberto Madrazo. Angelica: Another pre-candidate Roque Villanueva. By the way, "Cynthia" appears like a doll with it's head covered. this means "El tapado" (the covered one). This is because until this elections, the candidate of the PRI for president was chosen by the current president and was called "El tapado". I couldn't identify Phil and Lil. I don't have the magazine, I saw this in an article in another magazine which talked about the two magazines that that month featured the Rugrats on it's cover: this one and the comic adventure.
How Unfunny Are The Rugrats? Ask The Monkey
Frank Cho is another cartoonist who is critical against the Rugrats. In a Sunday edition of his Liberty Meadows comic strip, published sometime in 1999, he featured a Rugrats-esque satire called Yard Apes, with a lead character having a head like Dennis The Menace and wearing a Charlie Brown sweater. Yard Apes' sole purpose in that strip was to censor a strip where Frank, as his monkey alter-ego, explains whether Brandy, Liberty Meadows' lead character, is real. That strip's sauciest panel, supposedly featuring 2 girls in bikinis falling in love with Frank, was replaced with a Yard Apes panel, with Charlie The Menace hugging his computer and saying, "I'm e-mailing Grandma a hug." And yes, as any Liberty Meadows reader knows, the censorship in that strip is part of the gag.
Then, in Frank's editorial in issue 17 of the Liberty Meadows comic book, he delves more into the censorship issue, with the word "beaver" a no-no in comics, if used improperly. He says, "...to put it mildly, no comedy is allowed in the comics page; just take a look at Family Circus, Rugrats and Cathy."
"Rugrats In Paris" Is A War Movie
Are the Rugrats the dirty half-dozen? Maybe, according to Canada's favorite satire group, Royal Canadian Air Farce. On the 4/8/2001 edition of their weekly TV program on CBC, there was a sketch that parodises History On Film, a movie series seen on History Television, a Canadian specialty channel about history. The film series that week featured movies about World War II, such as a "My Favorite Hitler" movie marathon, "Saving Private Ryan" in Dutch, "Sleepless In Seattle", and, of course, "Rugrats In Paris", which the host (Luba Goy) describes as a film set in post-war Paris, a city that was the scene of various battles that changed the course of history.
This Satire Brought To You By The Letters "A" (for Angelica), and "M" (for Merger), And By The Number "2"
In June 2001, there was word that Jim Henson Productions, currently owned by a German production company, may be sold to another company. Viacom, the owners of Nick, is one of many companies expressing interest in the Muppet maker. In the 6/7/2001 edition of the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, reporter Kathleen O'Brien presented a satirical look at what if the world's most-loved characters were purchased by a company once known by some as the "Big V of Doom".
(Article ©2001 Newark Morning Ledger Company. Special thanks to Ryan Mead.)
IF ANGELICA MOVED TO "SESAME STREET"
by Kathleen O'Brien
The financial pages bring news that some of the Muppets characters, now
owned by a German company, are for sale. Since creator Jim Henson's death
in 1990, the lovable fixtures of children's television have sunk in market
value, as a new generation of toddlers finds them too tame. While some are
owned by "Sesame Street," others might be bought by Disney, or Viacom, the
owner of "Rugrats."
Just as a wave of corporate mergers has resulted in previously unthinkable combinations (think DaimlerChrysler), the day may come when the trend strikes children's television as well:
As the scene opens, Big Bird, the Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch are gathered on the set of a farm. In the background is heard the familiar lilting theme: "Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away, on my way to where the air is sweet. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?"
Meryl Streep, the hip celebrity of the day, enters, wearing a straw hat and pigtails. "Today we're going to talk about the letter 'A'," she says with a perky smile. "The farm is a perfect place to visit on 'A' Day. Why, there are apples, alfalfa and even aardvarks!"
Suddenly, shouting is heard from off to one side:
"Hurry up, I said! You babies are so slow!" Oscar the Grouch is elbowed to one side as Angelica, the "Rugrats" ringleader, rudely muscles her way to the front. Trailing meekly in her wake are the baby twins Phil and Lil, along with Tommy and Chuckie.
"Who are you?" Oscar asks grouchily.
"I'm Angelica, and lose the attitude, farm boy," she snaps. "You're blocking my close-up."
"Fantastic!" chirps Big Bird. "Angelica is the perfect person to visit us on 'A' Day! Would you like to draw the 'A' in the alphabet game, little girl?"
"Listen up, chicken breath," she replies. "We're not going to play no alphabet game. We gots better things to do, like push Tommy in the cow poop!"
Big Bird looks shocked: "But how will the children learn to read? That's what we do here at 'Sesame Street': combat illiteracy. It's been in all the papers."
Angelica rolls her eyes impatiently: "Dumb babies don't need to watch TV!" Who cares if they're Lil-literate?"
(Phil to Lil, worried: "Does that mean I'm Phil-literate?")
Meryl Streep tries to intervene. "I think...Angelica, it it? I think, Angelica, that it would be best if you took a 'time out' to consider the hurtful impact of your words. While you're calming down, Big Bird can finish his alphabet ame, as we'd planned."
"Hey, lady! My mom will kick your butt, and you can't stop me from saying 'butt,' neither. Mommy says Lipschitz says I should talk about my feelings, so get over it. Butt, butt, butt! Some vocrabulary, eh? Mommy thinks I'm gifted that way."
Cookie Monster, wiping crumbs from his mouth, tries to reason with his now corporate partner: "Perhaps you don't realize that, for many children, 'Sesame Street' is their only chance to learn things before they go to school."
"You don't gots to 'splain things to me," Angelica answers. "We'll teach 'em plenty, like how to swear, how to get away with murder, and how to wrap your parents around your little finger."
"Not on my show, you won't!" he answers.
Angelica stiffens, turns an angry shade of red and contemplates her response.
"Oh, no," Chuckie whispers to Tommy. "I think the Cookie Monster is toast."
Trekking with the Rugrats
And now, for your enjoyment, here are some Star Trek / Rugrats jokes from the alt.star-trek newsgroup:
We are Chuckie of borg. maybe this isn't such a good idea.
We are Lil and Phil of borg: resistance is futile....No it's not Phil, yes it is Lil, no, its NOT PHILLIP!...Yes it is LILLIAN! NOT, IS, NOT, IS!...
We are Tommy of Borg - We're babies, we're SUPPOSED to be assimilating.
For real Star Trek fun, check out the TrekRats page, which features the Star Trek crew as Rugrats.
(Source: Deja News)
The Warner Treatment
The following information was found in the "alt.tv.animaniacs" newsgroup (via Google, dated 11/8/1996): Animaniacs, an animated program seen daily on the WB network and produced by film wunderkind Steven Spielberg, paid tribute to Rugrats at the start of their 85th episode. In this satire, after a brief opening of Animaniacs, their version of the Rugrats intro (entitled "Animanirats") was presented in the same "visual and musical style of the main title of Rugrats, with Animaniacs characters in all the parts." As for those parts, take a look at the following table:
|Animaniacs Character||Rugrats Character They Portrayed|
|Mindy & Skippy Squirrel||Phil & Lil|
|Pinky & The Brain||Mechanical Toys|
And in the second half of their 122nd episode (info via
Google, dated 6/7/1994), entitled
"Plane Pals", one of the Rugrats appears on an airplane. Here's a
list of the people who were on that plane:
It's probably a matter of time before The Simpsons pay tribute on the way to the couch.
Rugrats cast members Tress MacNeille, Joe Alaskey, Cree Summer and Kath Soucie were all regulars on Tiny Toon Adventures, which spun off Animaniacs; on Animaniacs, MacNeille was the only regular, as Dot Warner and Hello Nurse.
(additional info provided by Anthony Dean)
A Cow, A Chicken, And A Rugrat
In another televised parody, Ian Pugh reports on a promo of Cartoon Network's Cow & Chicken, which parodizes the Rugrats:
It was on Cartoon Network, a commercial for "Cow and Chicken". Cow and Chicken were sitting on chairs at a desk. The Cartoon Network (unseen) boss gives ideas for the plot of the show they'll be in. Anyway, the Rugrats point is, one of the ideas was a spoof: The boss held up a card that looked like the title, but it said "Carpet Bunnies". The Boss threw out the card and another card appeared in it's place. Chicken was dressed up as Tommy and Cow was dressed as Chuckie, hair and all. Chicken opens his mouth, showing gums, and Cow squirts the screen with udder milk. While all this happens, the boss says, "How about this? "Carpet Bunnies": It's about a couple of toddlers who can barely talk and go on lots of complicated adventures." Chicken's reaction? "That's stupid!"
(special thanks to Ian Pugh)
By the way, something that's not related to Rugrats, but related to Nicktoons --
Recently, according to the alt.tv.nickelodeon newsgroup, Cartoon Network poked fun at another Nicktoon, Angry Beavers in a promo for their own animated program, I Am Weasel. In this ad, I.M. Weasel was in a lab coat, demonstrating a pilot on an overhead projector called "Two Really Upset Otters", which is a reference to Angry Beavers.
Mike Judge judges Rugrats on "Space Ghost"
Nickelodeon must be Cartoon Network's favorite target. And Rugrats is also a favorite target of cartoon superhero - turned - talk show host Space Ghost. In the "Sphinx" episode of his Space Ghost Coast To Coast show (first broadcast 10/17/1997), Space Ghost and Zorak (his former enemy, now band leader for the show) chat with Mike Judge, creator of Beavis & Butthead and King Of The Hill. Near the end of their interview with Judge, the chat took this turn:
Space Ghost: Thank you once again! How can I repay you for your undying devotion?
Mike Judge: You could go into the cartoon Rugrats, and just sorta clean house.
Space Ghost: Y-y-you want me to whack the Rugrats?
Mike Judge: I'll give you a list of some people in the industry that need to be, uh, that need to have this done to 'em.
(Judge blasts Zorak with his own destructo ray; Zorak screams)
Mike Judge: Sorry.
Zorak: Don't be.
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