I've written more than a little bit over the last six years about how the end of the Cold War brought with it a revolutionary era of American animation. The Simpsons showed us that animation did not have to see its primary audience as primarily children. Batman: the animated series could introduce morally ambivalent characters into the superhero genre, where we'd see that Bruce Wayne was capable but emotionally stunted while the villains had psychologically relatable reasons for doing things that were still wrong.
And then, of course, there was also Ren and Stimpy, which was anarchic and surrealist and more or less at the opposite pole of Fat Albert. Whether you were careful or not you wouldn't have "learned something" before an episode of Ren & Stimpy was done.
At a lot of levels live action television and cinema was more conventional and routine than what began to go on in animation in the 1990s, at least for me when I try to remember what stuff I watched back then. I wanted to be an animator when I was a kid. It wasn't long before I discovered that was probably not going to be practical for me but I never lost an interest in animation or comics as media. Ren & Stimpy wasn't exactly my FAVORITE cartoon but I liked the episodes I saw (whereas I found Aeon Flux tedious and overbaked, for mainly intuitive reasons I can't quite explain).
Anyway, for those who are into cartoons, it's worth noting that 25 years ago there was some official chorusing on happy happy joy joy.
I suppose in a way that sticks with today's theme of how art that sticks with us is probably most accurately described as emerging in spite of empires of patronage rather than because of them, eh?