On this day:
At 8th March of 1993, MTV airs the first episode of the animated series "Beavis and Butt-Head", which will go on to become the network’s highest-rated series up to that point. "Beavis and Butt-Head" is an American animated sitcom created and designed by Mike Judge. The series originated from "Frog Baseball", a 1992 short film by Judge originally aired on Liquid Television. After seeing the short, MTV signed Judge to develop the concept. The series first ran from March 8, 1993 to November 28, 1997. In 1996, the series was adapted into the animated feature film "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America". It was revived in 2011 and new episodes began airing on MTV from October 27 to December 29, 2011. Later, reruns aired on other Viacom properties, including MTV2, Comedy Central and UPN. The show captured the attention of many young television viewers in the United States and abroad and is often considered a classic piece of 1990s youth culture and Generation X.
For those who had better things to do in the 90's, 'Beavis and Butt-Head' was an MTV cartoon in which two apparently idiotic and certainly offensive teenagers sat on their sofa watching and making sarcastic observations about music videos. They also had short adventures of their own in between clips, usually involving them trying, and miserably failing, to “score” with girls. For new-school cartoon fans, the show was the creation of Mike Judge, who later went on to create the wildly popular animated series 'King of the Hill.'
Viewers back then never quite figured out whether Mike Judge’s cartoon was genuine subversive social criticism, or just the height of juvenile delinquency. With hindsight, it was probably both – no show provided more mindlessly amusing late-night TV for sleep-deprived Generation X teens, but it was also rather good at pointing out the most ridiculous parts of youth culture. Beavis and Butt-head was the most controversial cartoon when it came out. The vulgarity, the language, the lack of taste. However, it was always smart. A lot of the humor was very clever, even though it was in a context which did not agree with some viewers.
The show centers on two socially incompetent, rock-loving teenage wannabe delinquents, Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Judge), who live in the fictional town of Highland, Texas (or possibly New Mexico). They have no apparent adult supervision at home, and are dim-witted, under-educated and barely literate, and both 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 exclaiming, "This sucks!" (the latter is sometimes followed by the demand, "Change it!").
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 traits are a shared obsession with sex, and their tendency to chuckle and giggle whenever they hear words or phrases that can even remotely be interpreted as sexual or scatological.
Beavis and Butt-Head are in ninth grade at Highland High School. Their stupidity leads to a demotion all the way down to kindergarten in the episode "Held Back," but they soon prove to be such an annoyance that the elementary school principal quickly re-promotes them back to Highland High. Each episode features frequent interstitial scenes in which they critique music videos using commentary improvised by Judge. The remainder of the episode depicts the duo embarking on some kind of scheme or adventure.
Their teachers at Highland High are often at a loss as to how to deal with them, and in many episodes they skip school altogether. Their actions sometimes result in serious consequences, but often for others, for which they themselves show no remorse whatsoever. Although they wreak havoc and destroy all that is good, Beavis and Butt-Head endure as good people (in some sense) because they are completely confident in themselves, they do not really have bad feelings towards anyone.
The TV show accurately and cleverly portrays how the idiocy of the title characters does not fall short in this world. In the 1990s Beavis and Butt-Head in particular stood out in that regard. Ironically, in the 1990s a number of parents blamed Beavis and Butt-Head for the misbehavior of their children, totally failing to understand the point of the show, which is not for kids but shows what two kids do these days. It's like basing two teenage characters on two general modern teenagers and saying "this is how your kids are" to parents and a number of them respond by saying "no that's who my kids are imitating".
The joke is on them but they are oblivious to it and that is the real power of Beavis and Butt-Head. You would almost want to be in their situation because of how the world has become. Being plain stupid is more than enough to "outsmart" people these days – as Beavis and Butt-Head accurately prove time after time. That makes it so easy to "identify" with Beavis and Butt-Head. Yet, at the same time, unlike movies and TV shows in general, Beavis and Butt-Head (the TV show) does not condone violence, drugs or anything like that. It's amazing how a "potty" humor show about two unintelligent teenagers is more intelligent and witty than most "serious" TV shows.
There was a wide variety of unique characters in the show, such as their arrogant and overly strict gym teacher who wants to always get them in trouble, their hippie teacher who always tries to teach them about work, their elderly neighbor Tom Anderson who always has his vacations ruined by Beavis and Butt-head, their younger neighbor Stewart who always tries to hang out with them, and a student in their class named Darrea (huh huh, Diarrea). Darrea also had her own spin off show that was released during the year this show was canceled.
From 1994 to 1996, Marvel Comics published a monthly 'Beavis and Butt-Head' comic under the Marvel Absurd imprint 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 their review of a 'Ghost Rider' comic, Beavis tries to avoid using the word "fire" to describe the character's fiery skull.
In 1996, a full-length movie featuring the duo titled '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). The film earned over $60 million at the domestic box office, a strong return for a film that cost only $12 million to produce.
The end of 'Beavis and Butt-Head' was like the end of a cultural era. Grunge and those early 90's fads were dying out, to make way for the crass commercialism and ultra materialism of the youth generations that would follow, essentially helping to wipe out not only what made music culture great, but also what made MTV great. 'Beavis and Butt-Head' was part of that cool past of part of a totally idiotic, carefree culture.
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