Gone from MTV’s airwaves since 1997 after an improbable four-year run that generated more than 200 episodes, a movie, four books and a CD, Beavis and Butt-head are being resurrected from their cartoon coffins to reign once again as the nihilistic darlings of television.
Mike Judge’s animated cartoon series of America’s lovable losers who trash everything and everyone under the sun, toss poodles into washing machines, get wasted on nonalcoholic beer and deep-fry telephones as they spend their lives watching crappy bands on MTV, makes its return splash on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Once called "the bravest show ever run on national television" by Time Magazine pop-culture columnist Kurt Andersen, the series was anything but brave. It was simply necessary in the face of the deluge of embarrassing sitcoms and numbskull reality shows that fed a culture that couldn’t seem to get enough of embarrassing, numbskull entertainment.
Beavis and Butt-head are directionless metalheads, unbelievably dumb and seemingly without a thread of a moral conscience. Teachers don’t know what to do with them, they can’t hold meaningless jobs at Burger World, and they screw up at every twist and turn. Their epic, gross stupidity was wildly embraced by legions of diehard fans because it connected with some dark, inner impulse. Their shenanigans were preposterous, yet most of what they were trying to pull off was what everyone wanted to do anyway.
They were even drawn weird, with overbites, shit-eating grins, fixated stares, squinty eyes and exposed gums. Yet when they grunted their moronic laughs over something insanely stupid, one felt a definite and dirty connection with these airheads from Highland, Texas.
Unlike Bart Simpson, whose bug-eyes would drop in remorse and sorrow when he screwed up, Beavis and Butt-head felt no moral obligation to anyone or anything. Rules, behavior codes and walking a straight line held no validity. That’s hard stuff to pull off with upwardly mobile parents and teachers bleating that being good, civic-minded, responsible citizens is the American way.
So why were they embraced and adored with their subversive humor, fart jokes, overwhelming horniness and lunatic antics that included trying to pierce their ears with an electric drill and asking President Clinton to invent a country and set it on fire?
Partially, it was simply this: With their exaggerated awkwardness that we all once stumbled around with, they allowed us to laugh uproariously at who we are and what we have become. And their message that everything sucks and blows seemed right on the money. Everyone was a fartknocker, a bunghole, a dillweed and an assmunch. Nothing was sacred to them.
How could you hate these guys?
Their "point," if they even had one, still rings true: We all suck, and everyone out there is part of the joke so you better start laughing real quick.
Beavis and Butt-head will premier on Thursday, Oct. 27 on MTV. Check your local listings for times.