The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience : Tattoo the nasty
In case you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t notice, Beavis and Butt-Head are back on MTV and they are as funny as ever. You can see the show Thursdays at 10/9C but you can see last night’s episode right here, right now.
Fans are stoked and showing their undying devotion to the comedy duo in ink…You thought Twilight fans were devoted? Check out some of these B&B fans…
Beavis and Butt-head is an American animated television series created by Mike Judge with Texas tie-ins to Judge’s later show, King of the Hill. The series originated from Frog Baseball, a 1992 short film by Judge. After seeing the short, MTV signed Judge to develop the concept. Beavis and Butt-head originally aired from March 8, 1993 to November 28, 1997 and was revived in 2011 and new episodes began airing on MTV on October 27. The series has retained a cult following and is rated TV-14. Later, reruns aired on other Viacomproperties, including Comedy Central and UPN. In 1996, the series was adapted into the animated feature film Beavis and Butt-head Do America.
The show centers on two socially awkward, rock/metal-loving teenage delinquents, Beavis and Butt-head (both voiced by Judge), who live in the town of Highland, Texas. They have no apparent adult supervision at home, are woefully undereducated, barely literate, dim-witted, and lack any empathy or moral scruples, even regarding each other. Their most common shared activity is watching music videos, which they tend to judge by deeming them “cool”, or by claiming, “This sucks!” They also apply these judgments to other things that they encounter, and will usually deem something “cool” if it is associated with violence, sex or the macabre. Despite having no experience with women, their other signature trait is their obsession with sex, and their tendency to chuckle and giggle whenever they hear words or phrases that can even remotely be construed as sexual or scatological. Each episode features a few interstitial scenes in which they view videos in this manner, their commentary improvised by Judge, with the rest of the episode depicting them embarking on some scheme or adventure.
They attend Highland High School, where their teachers are often at a loss as to how to deal with them; in many episodes they skip school altogether. Their actions sometimes have dire consequences, for which they show little remorse. This has been a source of controversy as the show has been claimed to promote dangerous behavior.
Beavis is voiced by Mike Judge. He has an underbite and a fixed countenance, which is almost always shown in profile. Like Butt-head, Beavis compulsively laughs and grunts. He picks his nose. He is the more excitable of the two and though he is oblivious to what should be obvious, he is prone to moments of insight (another source of humor). He is more polite and more optimistic than Butt-head. He often suffers physically in the show, either at the hands of Butt-head or various other characters or situations. He usually takes the beating and screams in pain before quickly reverting to his trademark laugh. Before controversy erupted (see below) he exhibited an obsession with fire and his trademark phrase was “FIRE! FIRE!” which he would utter with a maniacal gaze in his eye. (He also used to smoke before the controversy.) One episode depicted him as having voices in his head, which told him to engage in destructive activities; however, generally he has a passive demeanor in contrast to Butt-Head’s more dominant personality. Beavis also wears a blue Metallica shirt with grey shorts. (Beavis’s shirt in trademark posters, T shirts and other merchandise reads “Death Rock.”) When Beavis consumes large amounts of caffeine or sugar, he transforms into his hyperactive alter-ego, Cornholio. Beavis’s laugh was based on a “straight A” classmate of creator Mike Judge’s, who had a guttural laugh.
Voiced by Mike Judge. Has squinty eyes and a drooping nose with prominent nostrils. His top gums are often exposed due to a small upper lip and he speaks nasally with a deep voice and a slight lisp. He begins almost every statement with “Uhhhhhh…” and ends with his short trademark laugh “Uh huh huh huh”. Calmer—though cockier and marginally more intelligent than Beavis—Butt-Head is oblivious to subtlety of any sort and is usually completely confident in everything he says and does, no matter how ridiculous or frivolous it is—unless it has to do with females, in which case he either wavers or comes on too strongly. His trademark phrase when approaching women is “Hey baby.” As the more dominant personality of the duo, he seems to derive pleasure from regularly abusing Beavis. Butt-Head rarely gets perceptibly angry about anything, his usual expression of dissatisfaction being a resigned “This sucks! huh huh huh.” He also frequently has to try to calm the more mercurial Beavis down, either telling him to “settle down, Beavis! huh huh huh,” or in more drastic cases, slap him. Butt-Head also wears a gray AC/DC shirt with red shorts. (Butt-Head’s shirt in other media reads “Skull.”) Judge has stated he got the idea for the name “Butt-Head” from two people he knew during his childhood called “Iron Butt” (who encouraged people to kick him in the butt to demonstrate his strength) and “Butt-Head.”
Voiced by Mike Judge. The nearsighted, elderly neighbor of Beavis and Butt-Head. He often hires them to do chores which results in their destroying his yard, home, or personal belongings. Due to his poor eyesight and mild senility, he never seems to recognize the two and he never remembers their names (in one episode the two wore horn rimmed glasses in an absurd disguise which Anderson did not notice). He served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. His character is a big influence on the look and voice of the characterHank Hill from Judge’s subsequent series, King of the Hill as both were based on the same collection of elderly men from Judge’s youth.
David Van Driessen
Voiced by Mike Judge. A teacher at Highland High School and arguably the only person who cares about Beavis and Butt-Head. Ever the idealist, he never gives up on educating and enlightening the duo no matter how disastrous his attempts to do so turn out. Not only are his efforts with the two always failures, they laugh at him and are completely oblivious to his genuine concern for them. Van Driessen is a devoted hippie with a forgiving nature and gentle demeanor. His repeated attempts to teach the duo useful life lessons typically end in disaster as they almost always deduce the wrong message. He often plays songs on his acoustic guitar which typically end in him being severely hurt and in some cases almost killed. He has been shown teaching classes on biology, art, animation, economics, health, history, math, and literature, among others. Van Driessen is fired from his job in the “School Test” episode by Principal McVicker, who blamed him for Beavis and Butthead’s poor grades. He also owns a substantial 8-track tape collection, which is ruined in one episode by Beavis and Butt-Head. His voice and personality are similar to and may serve as a basis of sort for the character of Gerald Goode in Judge’s latest animated series The Goode Family. Mike Judge has stated Van Driessen was his favourite character after Beavis to voice. He based it on an interviewer he overheard during his time in a band.
Coach Bradley Buzzcut
Voiced by Mike Judge. Another of the duo’s high school teachers and the antithesis of Van Driessen. Angry, impatient and short-tempered Buzzcut is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Marine Corps and, with the possible exception of Principal McVicker, hates the duo more than any other character. He is shown substitute teaching regular classes but usually teaches physical education. It has been implied that he has on occasion committed assault and battery against the duo. Coach Buzzcut drives a Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Voiced by Mike Judge. McVicker is the Principal of Highland High and hates the duo. The two have unintentionally ruined his life. Many episodes begin with Beavis and Butt-Head in his office. They refer to him as “McDicker.” He is constantly stressed out due to having to deal with Beavis and Butt-Head: he shakes when he speaks, he is frequently rummaging through his desk for prescription medications and Maalox, and in one early episode he is shown guzzling a bottle of Old Crow. In the original series finale, when he thought that Beavis and Butt-Head were dead, he immediately stopped shaking and became much calmer and more cheerful. His mannerisms were based on a band director for Judge’s ninth-grade class. It was revealed in “Dumb Design” that he survived his heart attack and is present in the new episodes.
Voiced by Tracy Grandstaff. Daria is a sarcastic, vaguely alt-rockerish, nerdy girl who attends Highland High with Beavis and Butt-Head and she is one of the few people who sees the two for what they truly are. While not above taking jabs at them for their lack of intelligence, she also offers occasional help and advice. The duo nicknamed her “Diarrhea” but once said she was cool after she asked President Clinton a pertinent question during a school assembly. She is one of the few characters they respect at all. She eventually went on to star in her own spin-off series, Daria. Daria is not featured in the newer episodes, but she will make a cameo (according to an August 2011 Rolling Stone interview with Mike Judge). In “Drones” Beavis says that she killed herself, while Butthead argues that she moved away. She was the only character created at the request of MTV, who wanted a female character who could tolerate and handle the duo—Judge agreed with the idea, and worked on her with series writer David Felton.
Voiced by Rottilio Michieli. Todd is a trashy deadbeat and violent criminal. Although Beavis and Butt-Head greatly admire him and aspire to join his “gang“, Todd despises the two and frequently beats them up and takes advantage of them when he needs something, such as money, or a place to hide from other gangs or the police, although in “A Great Day” he does thank them for giving him some gas money and allows them to watch him beat up someone who bumped into his car. In the episode “Steamroller” it is said that Todd had dropped out of school two years before. Even though Todd’s last name “Ianuzzi” was never revealed in the series, it was revealed to be “Ianuzzi” in This Book Sucks. Writers Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil suggested the idea of a character that the lads idolize even though he beats them up; Judge would base Todd on a teenaged bully that lived near him and terrified him as a kid.
Voiced by Adam Welsh. A nerdy, wimpy, short kid who admires Beavis and Butt-Head and mistakenly believes they are his best friends. Beavis and Butt-Head relate to him mostly as Todd relates to them. They bully Stewart and regularly take advantage of his attempts to befriend them usually resulting in Stewart getting in trouble with his parents for something actually done by Beavis and Butt-Head. Stewart wears a black Winger t-shirt as a not-so-subtle reinforcement of his wimpiness (as opposed to the “coolness” of Beavis and Butt-Head wearing Metallica and AC/DC t-shirts).
- The Halloween special, entitled “Bungholio: Lord of the Harvest (Butt-O-Ween)“, involved them attempting to trick-or-treat in ridiculous costumes–i.e. Beavis dressed up as a giant nadby wearing underpants on his head and Butt-Head becoming nachos by pouring hot cheese-sauce over his head, although at one point he said he was dressed up as a dumbass. When Beavis eats all of Tom Anderson’s candy, his Cornholio persona emerges and embarks on a rampage to acquire more from other trick-or-treaters, while Butt-Head is taken on a “ride” to the countryside in Todd’s trunk, where he encounters a strangely pale old farmer. When Beavis finally comes down from his sugar high, he is hanging on a meathook in the farmer’s barn, where the old man and a similarly pale Butt-Head seemingly attack him with chainsaws as the episode fades to blood red. (The duo, of course, both re-appear unharmed in future episodes.)
- The first Christmas special featured the pair sitting in front of the television providing crude commentary on various aspects of Christmas, and commenting on Christmas-themed music videos from various artists.
- The second Christmas special was simply entitled “Beavis and Butt-Head Christmas Special“, or alternately “Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas”. It consisted of two segments thatparodied A Christmas Carol directed by Tony Kluck and It’s a Wonderful Life directed by former DreamWorks Animation director Mike deSeve, as well as Christmas-themed music videos (taken from the first Christmas special) and several segments in which Butt-Head answered fan mail dressed as Santa Claus while whipping a reindeer-costumed Beavis.
- The MTV Thanksgiving Special “Beavis and Butt-Head Do Thanksgiving” aired on November 27, 1997, the day before the series finale Beavis and Butt-Head Are Dead written by Andy Rheingold and Scott Sonneborn The bit featured Kurt Loder as the show’s host, half-reluctantly and half-resigned, trying to teach the two characters the meaning of Thanksgiving as they report live from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, where they take more interest in people’s butts and porn-shops than anything else. Among others, the special featured appearances by Adam Sandler, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, R.E.M., Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Tori Amos, and the Beastie Boys. Also featured were two music videos (“Long Hard Road Out of Hell” by Marilyn Manson and “Criminal” by Fiona Apple) not included in any of the show’s regular episodes. The Thanksgiving special only aired once, and its inclusion in the Mike Judge Collection DVD set shows it in a heavily edited format without the music videos or the celebrity appearances.
Critiques of music videos
When confronted with a song/video they did not like, they usually changed the channel and commented on how bad it was and how much it sucked. Most of the time, they came across a better video, but there have been instances where they found a video they perceived as worse than the previous one. One particularly memorable moment was when they were watchingFrank Zappa‘s video, “You Are What You Is“, and changed the channel during the video to come across The Europeans‘ “The Animal Song” video, which they perceived as even worse. Eventually, they forgot why they were watching it, and changed back to the Frank Zappa video, much to their chagrin (“This is still on? That pisses me off!”).One of the most well-known aspects of the series was the inclusion of music videos, which occurred between animated segments. The duo would watch and make humorous observations (about the band, a song’s lyrics, and/or a video’s visuals), or simply engage in nonsensical dialogs. Mike Judge improvised the video comments, and they were never scripted. Almost all the animations of Beavis and Butt-Head during the videos were re-used from earlier episodes. At times, the criticism reflected their young age and ignorance of music history. Upon seeing a video for “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, they decided that the band’s vocalist couldn’t be Ozzy Osbourne, because “Ozzy’s an old fart!” Butt-Head said “That’s not Ozzy–that’s his son!” Beavis mistook their raw sound for grunge and inquired if they were from Seattle; Butt-Head replied “No, they’re American,” even though Black Sabbath’s members were from England. During one episode, Butt-Head remarked, “You know those asswipes The Beatles? Those guys ruined music.” Similarly, the pair described Paul Simon as “that old dude from Africa who used to be in the Beatles,” and Butt-Head once observed of Frank Sinatra, “I think he used to be in the Eagles.” However, at other times they seemed almost respectful and willing to learn about music. In a Johnny Cash music video, the duo remark that he must be “some kind of gangsta rapper” (Beavis mistakes him for Captain Kangaroo).
They showed a particular disdain for many generic 1980s “hair bands“. They had almost no tolerance for new wave or electronic music (e.g. Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s “Two Tribes“,Gary Numan‘s “Cars“, and Scatman John‘s “Scatman” were all instantly shown contempt by the duo). Korn‘s song “Blind“, as an example of Nu metal, was criticized for lacking originality (although they did claim they sounded “kinda cool”). Bands who received considerably large amounts of criticism during the tenure of the show included Poison and Grim Reaper.
Beavis and Butt-Head had especially severe reactions when confronted with videos they found particularly awful. As soon as Butt-Head realized he was watching a Michael Bolton video, he announced that he had soiled his pants, although he later stated he was joking. The duo then commented on how he can “make any kind of music suck”. Sometimes, while giving a harsh review for a video, the duo would give a review to another band or musician despite the video not belonging to them; this was the case for Ace of Base while the boys were watching “Here We Go” by Stakka Bo. When confronted with Milli Vanilli‘s “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” and Vanilla Ice‘s “Ice Ice Baby“, the pair looked at one another in horror and changed the channel without speaking a word; this was effectively among the harshest commentary they ever gave a music video. They also non-verbally showed disgust when confronted with a duet between David Bowie and Bing Crosby for The Little Drummer Boy, shielding their eyes before changing the channel. The Europeans‘ video for “The Animal Song” was the most critically trashed by the duo, as Butt-Head claimed, “This sucks more than anything I have ever seen.”
Even bands they liked were not spared. They were disappointed by an AC/DC video despite being fans of the group. Also, during a Metallica video, Butt-Head comments, telling Lars Ulrich, “Sit your ass down, Lars, and play drums like you’re supposed to!” and by saying that James Hetfield resembled the Cowardly Lion. Judas Priest‘s video for “Breaking the Law” also drew a negative reaction due to the low quality of the video (Butt-Head simply stated, “I like Priest and everything, but this sucks!”)–despite this, the two would often sing the chorus from the video in other episodes. They would sometimes insult one part of a video, and praise another. This would often happen with songs with both quiet and loud parts, such asDanzig‘s “How the Gods Kill“, Metallica’s “One“, and Radiohead‘s “Creep“.
Beavis and Butt-Head also shared a disdainful dislike of certain bands from England; while watching a Pink Floyd video, Butt-Head claimed that they were “Just another gang of wussies from England.” Then Beavis claims that he would really like to go to England, explaining that, “Since everyone in England’s a wuss, I could go around kicking everybody’s ass and then I would be the only person that’s not a wussy there”. Other bands, such as The Shamen and Blur, were mocked for their British accents. Morrissey, during the video for his song ‘November Spawned A Monster’, was told by Beavis to “Quit whining, go out and get a job and some good clothes.” The duo also made fun of performers who were effeminate orandrogynous (such as Boy George or Marilyn Manson) and often evinced disgust or fear towards notions of male homosexuality (e.g. Butt-Head would quip “he’s smiling at you” which would result in an angry retort from Beavis) although, in the 2011 episode “Dumb Design,” they appear to have become more tolerant of the gay community after viewing two men who they mistook for engaging in homosexual sex, Beavis said “I don’t understand that at all, [but] it’s okay for you guys” with Butt-Head concurring “to each his own.”
Beavis and Butt-Head rarely expressed complete enjoyment of any video; but a few bands did draw more favorable attention from the two than others. Their preference was heavy metal and 1990s hard rock, such as Pantera, Alice in Chains, White Zombie and Kiss. They also had a deep admiration for Ozzy Osbourne and sang “Iron Man” when they were excited about something or to celebrate. Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain is said to have been ecstatic at having the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” praised by Beavis and Butt-Head, and deemed it a great compliment. GWAR were among the most highly reviewed bands by the duo, with Beavis once proclaiming that “every video should be like a GWAR video.” Beavis and Butt-Head laudedBananarama‘s video for Venus, saying “these chicks should marry GWAR” and that “they would have offspring that would be the coolest people who ever lived.” Butt-Head once complimented Lou Reed after watching the video for “No Money Down” (dubbed “the coolest of all videos” by the boys) by stating that Lou belonged in GWAR. Butt-Head also deemed both “Them Bones” by Alice in Chains and Aerosmith‘s “Rag Doll,” in separate instances, “The coolest video I have ever seen.” The crass uber-metal video, “The Damned” by Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics received obvious praise from the duo since it featured all the themes of their interest (loud metal music, a semi-naked woman, destruction and explosions). One of the most unexpected positive reviews they ever gave was for “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees, which they mistook for the Black Crowes (in the end, they realized they were not the Black Crowes, but danced to the song anyway). Hard rock band Guns N’ Roses have also been praised by the duo, during their song “Paradise City”, proclaiming “These guys kick butt”, as well as headbanging to the songs solo. Motörhead was also held in high regard, but they only seemed to compliment Lemmy. On a Ramones video where Lemmy makes an appearance, Beavis asked what Lemmy was doing there and Butt-Head responded by saying, “He’s Lemmy, dumbass. He can go into any damn video he wants.”
Despite heavy metal and hard rock being their favorite forms of music, Beavis and Butt-Head had a fondness for hip hop, especially gangsta rap. Rap groups and performers such asSnoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C., Sir Mix-a-Lot and Dr. Dre received positive responses from the boys. This can be noted with Beavis’s occasional mimicking of “gangsta” jargon. One of their oddest reviews was that of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion‘s video for “Dang”, where they endlessly praised it seemingly only because it was a music video—in particular, Butt-Head could be heard gasping for breath due to laughing uncontrollably. It was, however, implied at the very end of the review that they were both high on nutmeg, with Beavis remarking “Hey Butt-Head, you got any more nutmeg?”
Although Beavis and Butt-Head share the same musical tastes, there were some rare occasions where opinions largely conflicted. An obvious example can be seen during the video review for “Something for the Pain” by Bon Jovi (whom the duo referred to as a “wuss band”) in which Beavis claimed to enjoy one part of the song, causing Butt-Head to smack him repeatedly, claiming to be doing it for “Beavis’ own good.” However, Beavis insisted on enjoying the song and singing along to the main lyrics, and eventually retaliated against Butt-Head by kicking him in the testicles—twice—and praising Bon Jovi by proclaiming, “You can’t tell me what sucks! I like this, so blow it up your ass!” A less dramatic example can be seen during R.E.M.‘s video for “Shiny Happy People“, where Beavis sings along to the lyrics, provoking another repeated smacking by Butt-Head. In another episode, during the review of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls“, Butt-Head repeatedly claims that Metallica sucks, much to Beavis’s annoyance.
The ultimate compliment would have been parallel to the ultimate put-down (see previous) and would have consisted of them simply being silent for the video’s duration. An example of this happened very early on in the series when they watched “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” by the Butthole Surfers and remained completely silent throughout (only giving quips of praise at the very beginning and end of the video). Another example is where they were watching “California” by Wax, which featured a man running around on fire. Butt-Head praised the video, but Beavis, being a pyromaniac (and Mike Judge having been instructed by the MTV higher-ups to not say the word “fire”), chose to stare at the video and say nothing. Butt-Head got annoyed by this, and tried to snap Beavis out of his seemingly catatonic state. Another example was the Ramones‘s “I Wanna Be Sedated“, where they did not praise the band verbally other than Beavis saying “YES!” when the video starts, but headbanged for the video’s duration (along with occasionally humming the main riff). In other reviews, during particularly good videos, Butt-Head would tell Beavis to shut up because he wanted to see the video.
The duo showed some signs of intelligence when it came to some bands and artists, despite the fact that they did not know much about even their favorite bands. On one occasion, they claimed that “Pantera” had an abusive upbringing. They knew practically nothing about the band Hole, and thought that Hole was the name of the lead singer. During a Foo Fighters video review, Butt-Head recognized the lead singer as Dave Grohl, referring to him as “that dude from ‘Nirvarna’.” Beavis thought Butt-Head was referring to deceased Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and said “Butt-Head, I don’t think that dude’s with us anymore, you shouldn’t say that.” Butt-Head patiently explained to Beavis that Grohl was the drummer with Nirvana and was now playing guitar for the Foo Fighters. Sometimes they mistook some bands for others. They believed they were watching a Red Hot Chili Peppers video when they were really watching a Faith No More video. In another review, the duo was watching Marilyn Manson‘s music video for “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” and initially thought that Manson was Cher. Beavis then confused Marilyn Manson for Charles Manson before being corrected by Butt-Head. On several occasions, the two mistook musicians for other celebrities, such as Boy George asDebbie Gibson, The Clash guitarist Mick Jones as Jerry Seinfeld, Pizzicato Five guitarist Keitaro Takanami as Ernie from “My Three Sons“, members of Color Me Badd as Kenny G, Ofra Haza as Paula Abdul, and both Yanni and John Oates as Geraldo Rivera. They also sometimes made crude puns on the names of celebrities (believing the names they said were really the celebrities’ names) who came to mind during a video they were watching; some of these included Connie Chung as Connie Schlong, Bette Midler as Butt Midler, Olivia Newton-Johnas Olivia Neuter-John and Steffi Graf as Stiffie Graf. They even mistook Rosie O’Donnell, in the video “(Meet) The Flintstones” by The B-52′s, for Roseanne and called her Buttseanne.
The pair got perhaps the most excited and ecstatic when they watched Iggy Pop‘s “Butt Town.” This was no surprise given the two’s fascination with buttocks. Their dialogue during the video concluded with Beavis asking Butt-Head, “Hey Butt-Head, where is Butt Town?” Butt-Head responded, “I dunno, but I’m gonna get a map, and I’m gonna go there!”
Bands and videos were not the only subjects of which they were critical. They also engaged in conversation about films, television shows, certain people and other pop culture references. Occasionally, they praised the subject, but were more often derisive.
In the 2011 revival, Beavis and Butthead make fun of more recent music videos, along with other MTV series such as Jersey Shore and True Life and even Internet memes like theYouTube video “It’s So Cold in the D” by T-Baby.
Critical assessments and controversy
Over its run, Beavis and Butt-Head drew a notable amount of both positive and negative reactions from the public with its combination of lewd humor and implied criticism of society. It became the focus of criticism from social conservatives, such as Michael Medved, while others, such as David Letterman, and the conservative magazine National Review, defended it as a cleverly subversive vehicle for social criticism and a particularly creative and intelligent comedy. Either way, the show captured the imaginations of many young television viewers in the United States and abroad and is often considered a classic piece of 1990s youth culture and the MTV generation. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, cite the show as an influence and compared it to the blues, and met Mike Judge before the show aired.
In 1997, Dan Tobin of The Boston Phoenix commented on the series’ humor, stating that it transformed “stupidity into a crusade, forcing us to acknowledge how little it really takes to make us laugh.” In 1997 Ted Drozdowski of The Boston Phoenix described the 1997 Beavis and Butt-Head state as “reduced to self-parody of their self-parody.” In December 2006,TV Guide ranked the duo’s distinct laughing at #66 on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases.
Mike Judge himself is highly critical of the animation and quality of earlier episodes, in particular the first two—”Blood Drive”/”Give Blood” and “Door to Door”—which he described as “awful, I don’t know why anybody liked it… I was burying my head in the sand”.
Allegations of promoting dangerous behavior
Early installments gave them a juvenile obsession with fire and dangerous behavior (summed up with Beavis’ chant of “Fire! Fire!”). The show was blamed for a two-year-old’s death which occurred in Moraine, Ohio in October 1993 in which a five-year-old boy set fire to his mother’s mobile home, killing his two year old sister. The mother later claimed that her son had watched one of the fire-related segments shortly before he burned down the home, although, according to an article in the March 24, 1994 issue of Rolling Stone, neighbors claimed that the family did not have cable television.
As a result, the references were excised from further airings. The creators found a censorship loophole and took delight in sometimes making Beavis scream things that sounded very similar to his previous “Fire! Fire!” (such as “Fryer! Fryer!” when he and Butt-Head are working the late shift at Burger World) and also having him almost say the forbidden word (such as one time when he sang “Liar, liar, pants on…” and pausing before “fire” (in the “Liar! Liar!” episode). There was also a music video where a man runs on fire in slow motion (“California” byWax). Beavis is hypnotized by it and can barely say “Fire.” References to fire were cut from earlier episodes — even the original tapes were altered permanently. Other episodes MTV opted not to rerun included “Stewart’s House” and “Way Down Mexico Way.” Early episodes with the controversial content intact are rare, and are traded on homemade video recordings made from the original broadcasts. In an interview included with the recent Mike Judge Collection DVD set, Judge said he was uncertain if some of the earlier episodes still existed in their uncensored form.
In February 1994, watchdog group Morality in Media claimed that the death of 8-month-old Natalia Rivera, struck by a bowling ball thrown from an overpass onto a Jersey City, New Jersey highway near the Holland Tunnel by 18-year-old Calvin J. Settle, was partially inspired by Beavis and Butt-Head. The group said that Settle was influenced by the episode entitled “Ball Breakers,” in which Beavis and Butt-Head loaded a bowling ball with explosives and dropped it from a rooftop. While Morality in Media claimed that the show inspired Settle’s actions, the case’s prosecutors did not. Later it was revealed by both prosecutors and the defendant as well, that Settle did not have cable TV and did not watch the show.
Responses by writers and MTV
In one episode entitled “Lightning Strikes,” the show parodied blaming actions on youth culture. When asked by a reporter why they were flying a kite in a rainstorm, the duo explained that they were inspired by a documentary about Benjamin Franklin. Not satisfied, the reporter continued asking them leading questions until they mentioned that they had watched some rock music videos earlier in the day. The reporter then expresses the conclusion to her audience that the music videos are to blame for the duo’s actions.
MTV also responded by broadcasting the program after 11:00 P.M., and included a disclaimer, reminding viewers that:
- Beavis and Butt-Head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy whom we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-Head are dumb, crude, thoughtless, ugly, sexist, self destructive fools. But for some reason, the little wienerheads make us laugh.
This was later changed to:
- Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They’re not even human; they’re cartoons. Some of the things they do could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don’t try this at home.
They were famously lambasted by Democratic senator Fritz Hollings as “Buffcoat and Beaver.” This subsequently became a running gag on the show where adults mispronounced their names, Tom Anderson originally calling them “Butthole and Joe,” and believing the two to be of Asian ethnicity (describing them to the police as “Oriental”). In later episodes, Tom Anderson uses the Hollings mispronunciation once, and on at least one occasion refers to them as “Penis and Butt-Munch.” President Clinton called them “Beamis and Bum-head” in one episode, as well as in the movie, where an old lady consistently calls them “Travis” and “Bob-head.” In one episode of the series, when another student threatens to kill them, the duo uses this to their advantage, pretending to be exchange students named “Crevis and Bung-Head”.
Beavis and Butt-Head have been compared to idiot savants because of their creative and subversively intelligent observations of music videos. This part of the show was mostly improvised by Mike Judge. With regard to criticisms of the two as “idiots,” Judge responded that a show about straight-A students would not be funny.
In 1996, a full-length movie featuring the duo entitled Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was released in theaters. The movie features the voices of Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Cloris Leachman, Robert Stack, Eric Bogosian, Richard Linklater, Greg Kinnear (in an uncredited role), and David Letterman (credited as Earl Hofert). It gained mostly positive reviews from film critics and a “two thumbs up” from Siskel and Ebert. The film earned over $60 million at the domestic box office, a strong return for a film that cost only $5 million to produce.
Also, in recent interviews, Judge claims that he is interested in producing a live-action movie. He said that previously he despised the idea, but now he thinks “maybe there’s something there.” During an interview for Collider on August 25, 2009, Judge told them, “I like to keep the door open on Beavis and Butt-Head, because it’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. It’s the thing I’m most proud of.” However, he also added, “Another movie… the problem is it takes a year and half, two years, two and a half years—maybe—to do that right. And that’s a pretty strong level of commitment. I’m going to look at that again. That comes up every three years.” One of his ideas is bringing back the characters as old men, instead of teenagers. “I kind of think of them as being either 15 or in their 60s,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind doing something with them as these two dirty old men sitting on the couch.” Judge added that he wouldn’t completely ignore the time that has passed in between. “At one point I thought Butt-Head might do okay on some really low-level sales job”. While the TV show went into reruns, Mike Judge went on to make movies: he directed such films as Extract, Idiocracy, and Office Space, which found favor with moviegoers and later became cult classics.
On July 14, 2010, a spokesperson for MTV Networks informed a New York Post reporter that Mike Judge is creating a new Beavis and Butt-Head series, that Judge will reprise his voice-acting roles for the show, and that the animation will be hand-drawn. According to TMZ, MTV has not asked Tracy Grandstaff to reprise her role as Daria Morgendorffer. Later, in aRolling Stone interview, Mike Judge was asked if Daria is coming back and he said “No. There’s sort of a cameo in one episode. That’ll be a surprise.”
As in the old series, Beavis and Butt-Head are high school students who, among other things, criticize contemporary music videos. In an interview with Rolling Stone, MTV president Van Toffler said that the duo will also watch Jersey Shore, Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, and amateur videos from YouTube, as well as give movie reviews. “The biggest change is obviously the references are updated, it’s set in modern day, and there’s going to be a movie review segment,” Linn said. “Otherwise they’re still true to their prior passions.”
John Altschuler, formerly a writer for King of the Hill, told a Rolling Stone reporter that he saw signs that Mike Judge was thinking of reviving Beavis and Butt-Head. On more than one occasion, Judge told the writers that one of their ideas for an episode of King of the Hill would work well for Beavis and Butt-Head; eventually he concluded, “Maybe we should just actually make some good Beavis and Butt-Head episodes.” Later, a Lady Gaga video convinced Van Toffler of the tenability of a Beavis and Butt-Head revival: “I felt like there was a whole crop of new artists—and what the world sorely missed was the point-of-view that only Beavis and Butt-Head could bring.”
As part of a promotional campaign for the new series, cinemas screening Jackass 3D opened the feature film with a 3-D Beavis and Butt-Head short subject. Months later, in a media presentation on February 2, 2011, MTV announced that the series would premiere in the summer of 2011. On July 21, 2011 Mike Judge spoke and fielded questions on a panel at Comic-Con International. A sneak preview of the episode “Holy Cornholio” was also shown. Judge told Rolling Stone that at least 24 episodes (12 half-hour programs) will definitely air. It was initially rumored that Judge was working on 30 new episodes for the network.
The new episodes debuted in the United States and Canada on October 27, 2011. The premiere was dubbed a ratings hit, with an audience of 3.3 million total viewers. The new season will air in the United Kingdom in early 2012. The main title card of the revival displays the show’s title as Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head with Judge’s name replacing the MTV logo. However, many sources continue to refer to the show as Beavis and Butt-Head.
Controversy arose when female rapper T-Baby’s viral music video for “It’s So Cold In The D” aired on an episode of “Beavis and Butt-head”. The rapper claimed that she had begun receiving racist death threats via text messaging and in public after her music video appeared on the show. Despite the threats, T-Baby says that she has not filed a police report because she’s “no snitch”. Initially the rapper was happy for her work to appear in the show explaining that she received $4,000 from the network, and would receive $4,000 every year thereafter for future re-airings of the episode.
A Blu-ray and DVD release of season 8 entitled Beavis and Butt-head – Volume 4, is expected to be released on February 14, 2012 in the United States.
- A CD, The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, was released featuring many hard rock and heavy metal bands, such as Megadeth, Primus, Nirvana and White Zombie. Moreover, Beavis and Butt-Head do a duet with Cher on “I Got You Babe“ and a track by themselves called “Come to Butt-Head”. The track with Cher also resulted in a music video directed by Tamra Davis and Yvette Kaplan.
- In 1995 an adventure game based on the series was released called Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity on the PC, with a PlayStation port being released in Japan.
- Many video games, including Beavis and Butt-Head, Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity, Beavis and Butt-Head: Bunghole in One, Calling All Dorks, Little Thingies, Wiener Takes All, and Beavis and Butt-Head Do U.
- In 2010, Beavis and Butt-Head apps for iOS were released by MTV.
From 1994 to 1996, Marvel Comics published a monthly Beavis and Butt-Head comic by a variety of writers, but with each issue drawn by artist Rick Parker. It was also reprinted by Marvel UK, which created new editorial material.
The letters page was answered by ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ or one of their supporting characters. Instead of reviewing music videos, they reviewed (custom-made) pages from other Marvel Comics—in one with Ghost Rider, Beavis tries to avoid using the word “fire” to describe the character’s fiery skull.
In the comic, minor characters like Earl, Billy Bob, Clark Cobb, and Mistress Cora Anthrax would get repeated appearances; Earl was quite regular, and Anthrax was in two issues and got to answer a letter’s page.
The characters have made cameo appearances (either visually or only voices) and have been referenced in numerous television shows, such as Friends, Celebrity Deathmatch, Robot Chicken, Teen Titans and Saturday Night Live (TV Funhouse), and in films such as Airheads, Clueless, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Jackass 3D.
In 1997, a spin-off show based on their classmate Daria Morgendorffer, Daria, was created. Mike Judge was not credited as a producer of this series and has said he was not involved with it at all, except to give permission for the use of the character. The Daria character had been created for Beavis and Butt-Head by Glenn Eichler and originally designed by Bill Peckmann of J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. Eichler then became a producer for Daria. In the first episode of Daria, she and her family move from Beavis and Butt-Head’s hometown of Highland to Lawndale—the only references to the original show is a single mention of Highland in the first episode, with Daria saying Lawndale can’t be a second Highland “unless there’s uranium in the drinking water here too”.
The first official home video releases of Beavis and Butt-Head were two VHS tapes entitled There Goes the Neighborhood and Work Sucks!, distributed by Sony Music Video and MTV Home Video in 1996 in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Each tape contained approximately eight episodes, each selected from the first four seasons. Although most of the episodes were presented in complete form, minus the music video segments, a handful of episodes were edited for content. Eight more VHS compilations were released between 1996 and 1999 in the United States, before the final volume, Butt-O-Ween, was issued in October 1999. However, the series continued in Australia and the United Kingdom, with a further ten volumes being issued between 1999 and 2001. When the series ended in the United Kingdom, a further seven volumes were issued exclusively in Australia, meaning that over 28 volumes, all 200 episodes were released on VHS.
Prior to the release of the VHS Volumes, a laserdisc entitled Beavis and Butt-Head: The Essential Collection was issued in 1994, containing sixteen episodes from the second and third seasons. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was also issued on Laserdisc in 1997.
All of the U.S. VHS Volumes were later issued on DVD in five two-disc sets through the Time–Life organisation. The DVD releases were entitled called The Best of Beavis and Butt-Head. A two-disc DVD set titled The History of Beavis and Butt-Head was scheduled for release in September 2002 in the United States. However, its release was cancelled at the last moment at the demand of Judge, who owned approval rights for video releases of the series. Many copies were mistakenly put on store shelves on the scheduled release date, only to be immediately recalled. The set started selling on eBay at very high prices, sometimes over $300 USD. According to Judge, the History set was made up of episodes that he had previously rejected for home video release and had been prepared without his knowledge or consent.
On November 8, 2005, MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment released a three-disc DVD compilation titled Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 1. The DVD set includes 40 episodes and 11 music video segments from the original shows. The set was followed by Volume 2 and Volume 3. On January 26, 2009, MTV and Apple all three collections were made available on the iTunes Store.
- Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil (1993). Glenn Eichler. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: This Book Sucks. MTV Books, Callaway, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89034-4.
- Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil, Guy Maxtone-Graham, Kristofor Brown, David Felton, Glenn Eichler, Mike Judge (1994). Glenn Eichler. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Ensucklopedia. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-52149-7.
- Doyle, Larry (1995). Glenn Eichler. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: This Sucks, Change It!. MTV Books, Pocket Books, Melcher Media. ISBN 0-671-53633-8.
- Doyle, Larry (1996). Glenn Eichler. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Huh Huh For Hollywood. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00655-X.
- Kristofor Brown, ed (1996). MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Doodle (doodie) Book. Boston America Corp. ISBN 1-889647-00-4.
- MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: 3-D Poster Book. Boston America Corp. 1997.
- Brown, Kristofor (1997). MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Big Book of Important Stuff to Make Life Cool. Boston America Corp. ISBN 1-889647-15-2.
- MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Doodle (doodie) Book #2. Boston America Corp. 1997. ISBN 1-889647-28-4.
- MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Sticky Things. Boston America Corp. 1997. ISBN 1-889647-16-0.
- Judge, Mike; Joe Stillman (1997). MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head Do America: The Official Script Book. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00658-4.
- Grabianski, Greg; Aimee Keillor (1997). Kristofor Brown. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: The Butt-Files. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01426-9.
- Brown, Kristofor (1997). Dave Stern. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Travel Log. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01533-8.
- Rheingold, Andy; Scott Sonneborn (1998). Kristofor Brown. ed. MTV’S Beavis and Butt-Head: Chicken Soup for the Butt. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-02598-8.
- Reading Sucks: The Collected Works of Beavis and Butt-Head (ISBN 978-1-4165-2436-6). This book is a bundle of four previous books (Ensucklopedia, Huh Huh for Hollywood, The Butt-Files, and Chicken Soup for the Butt) which are no longer in print separately.
- ^ Strauss, Robert (1994-11-22). “That’s Mr. Beavis and Butt-head to You : Mike Judge Thought His MTV Twits Would Create a Buzz — ‘but Never This Big’”. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
- ^ “MTV moves ‘Beavis’ series to 10:30 p.m.”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- ^ Cerone, Daniel (1993-03-16). “MTV Toon Dudes Are Slow on Two Counts Television: The amiably dim Beavis and Butt-head are already a hit with the network’s audience, but they’re taking a break while the animators catch up.”. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- ^ Rosenberg, Howard (1997-11-26). “Butt-head, We Hardly Knew Ye”. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
- ^ “MTV Presents Full Slate At Their Summer TCA Presentation; New ‘Beavis and Butt-head’ & ‘Good Vibes’ to Premiere October 27 – Ratings | TVbytheNumbers”. Tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- ^ “Goodbye, cool world TV: Beavis and Butt-head, nasty, dumb, hysterical little boogers, are going off the air. For one ‘chick,’ it’s been a guilty pleasure.”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- ^ “Made their mark Television: Those uncouth youth mouth a certain ’90s-era truth.”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
- ^ a b c d e ”Taint of Greatness: The Story of Beavis and Butt-Head Part 1″, in The Mike Judge Collection Volume 1
- ^ a b “Mike Judge Interviewed by John Kricfalusi”. Wild Cartoon Kingdom. 1994.
- ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (October 17, 1993). “TELEVISION; Keeping Beavis and Butt-Head Just Stupid Enough”.New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- ^ Rosenberg, Howard (1993-10-20). “MTV Was, Like, Totally Right to Relocate Show”. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- ^ ”Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-Head Part 2″, in The Mike Judge Collection Volume 2
- ^ ”Butting out,” The Boston Phoenix
- ^ ”Eye pleasers,” The Boston Phoenix.
- ^ The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases[dead link], TV Guide. Retrieved on 2008-04-02. In 2010, it was ranked no. 8 by TV Guide in their list of “TV’s Top 25 Animated Shows”.
- ^ a b “Cartoon On Mtv Blamed For Fire”. New York Times. 1993-10-10. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ “Mike Judge interview”. Goblin Magazine.
- ^ Posted 10/28/11. “Beavis And Butt-Head (Season 9) | Ep. 1 | Werewolves Of Highland / Crying”. MTV. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ a b c Greene, Andy (2011-08-03). “Exclusive: Mike Judge on the Return of ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ | Movies News”. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- ^ a b Youth Is Held in Death from Bowling Ball
- ^ “Dude… This Sucks– We mourn the loss of fresh Beavis and Butt-Head episodes”. EW.com Television News. August 15, 1997.
- ^ “‘Beavis And Butthead’ To Make A Big Screen Return—Starpulse Entertainment News Blog”. Starpulse.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ “Daria Left Out of ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ Reboot”. TMZ. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- ^ Starr, Michael (2010-07-14). “They’re back!”. New York Post. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- ^ a b Greene, Andy (2011-02-16). “Exclusive: New ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ Will Tackle ‘Jersey Shore’ and More”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- ^ Sitterson, Aubrey. “Comic-Con 2011: Beavis and Butthead Coverage and Panel”. UGO. July 21, 2011
- ^ http://www.geeksofdoom.com/2010/07/07/is-mike-judge-working-on-30-new-episodes-of-beavis-and-butt-head/
- ^ “‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ revival a ratings hit”. New York Post. 2011-10-28.
- ^ Braxton, Greg (2011-09-11). “‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ on MTV: Fall TV”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
- ^ http://www.tmz.com/2011/12/03/beavis-and-butt-head-so-cold-in-the-d-threats/#.Tv1pMjVWqa9
- ^ http://www.tmz.com/2011/11/25/its-so-cold-in-the-d-beavis-and-butthead-tbaby#.Tv1pcTVWqa8
- ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Beavis-Butt-head-Volume-4/16232
- ^ St. Petersburg Times[dead link]
- ^ “MTV’s Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity for Windows”. Mobygames.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ “Beavis and Butthead licensees”. Mobygames.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ “MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head: Do U. for Windows”. Mobygames.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ “Beavis and Butthead Central”. Hotextra.com. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- ^ Rosenberg, Howard (March 3, 1997). “Brainy ‘Beavis’ Pal ‘Daria’ Spins Off”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
- ^ Robinson, Tasha. “Mike Judge”. The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- Beavis and Butt-Head at the Internet Movie Database
- Beavis and Butt-Head at TV.com
- Beavis and Butt-Head at EpisodeWorld.com
- Beavis and Butt-Head at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Houston Chronicle article featuring Mike Judge
- Beavis and Butt-Head introduce the Mike Judge film Extract
- Beavis and Butt-Head on iPhone and iPad