|Ren & Stimpy character|
|Family:||Sven Höek (cousin)|
|Best Friends:||Stimpy J. Cat|
Powdered Toast Man
|Voice Actor:||John Kricfalusi (Seasons 1-2)|
Billy West (Seasons 3-5)
Chris Edgerly (Nicktoons MLB)
Marlin T. Höek or Ren for short, is one of the two titular protagonists of The Ren & Stimpy Show. He is a scrawny "asthma-hound" chihuahua with a floppy body, donkey-like ears, neon-pink eyes with dark red pupils, red eyelids, and a fairly long, rat-like, pink tail who often calls his best friend Stimpy an idiot ("eeediot", to quote the character).
Ren is vain, spiteful, hyperactive, abusive, and gets irritated (especially by Stimpy) very easily. His lifelong ambition is to have huge pectoral muscles (which somehow, in real life, is uncommon). Ren's name is the real name of Kricfalusi's building manager. He was born on Tuesday the 17th.
Ren was originally voiced by Kricfalusi (in a voice homaging that of Peter Lorre), and later by Billy West after Kricfalusi was fired, although Kricfalusi would return to the role for Ren & Stimpy: "Adult Party Cartoon". In Nicktoons MLB, Chris Edgerly provided the character's voice.
From its start, there were hints at the characters' sexuality. During the Spümcø years of the show on Nickelodeon, a running gag would have Ren and Stimpy engaging in something intimate (such as Stimpy bathing Ren during the episode "Nurse Stimpy"), with Stimpy assuring Ren that "no one will know" about the private and rather embarrassing encounter, only to pan towards a window in the room and showing several characters (including Mr. Horse) witnessing the event. The episode "Svën Höek" shows Stimpy having a romantic affair with Ren's cousin Svën, including an intimate "private" moment in Stimpy's litterbox and scrawling "Svën ♥ Stimpy" all over the walls. This was dropped after Spümcø was fired from the show.
Kricfalusi discussed the sexuality of the characters in a January 28, 1997 interview with the San Francisco Examiner, confirming their sexuality, saying: "Totally. In Ren's case, it's not completely by choice. He'd rather have a beautiful human woman if he could get away with it. Since he can't, Stimpy's easy. Stimpy's madly in love with Ren."
Jeffery P. Dennis said in the journal article "The Same Thing We Do Every Night: Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons" that Ren and Stimpy are within a world where "gay identities cannot exist," so the series portrays same-sex romantic desire as "anomalous and perverse." Dennis added that the critics of the series "made much" of the gay connotations of Ren and Stimpy, such as their sharing of a house and bed, their reminiscing of a wedding, and Stimpy's "giving birth" to flatulence.:135 Dennis said that Ren is "socially and sexually" the aggressor in the relationship; in addition he says that some episodes portray Stimpy as "a stereotypical 1950s wife" who cleans, cooks food, and irons Ren's underwear. Dennis stated that the aspects "may adhere to a reading of a sexual relationship." Dennis concludes that the relationship between Ren and Stimpy is a parody of heterosexual relationships rather than an actual gay or an actual romantic relationship. Dennis adds that in other situations Ren and Stimpy are "read more appropriately" as coworkers, enemies, friends, and house pets. Dennis argues that Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo are more consistently gay than Ren and Stimpy. Dennis also stated that the scenes of Ren and Stimpy as a couple emulate a heterosexual couple instead of being a union between two men.
In a response to Dennis' statements, Martin Goodman of Animation World Network said that Kricfalusi had outed Ren and Stimpy as gay and adds that while the Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" had not yet been released and therefore Ren and Stimpy had not been explicitly portrayed as gay, Ren and Stimpy would qualify as a consistently gay couple since they share a bed, live as partners, discuss a planned wedding, and had a "child," with the child being flatulence.