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Beavis and Butt-head

Beavis and Butt-head is an American animated television series created by Mike Judge. After the success of Judge's short film entitled Frog Baseball, which starred the characters Beavis and Butt-head and was featured in an episode of Liquid Television, the cable television channel MTV signed Judge to create a series with the same characters. The series aired from March 8, 1993 to November 28, 1997. It is rated TV-14 in the United States. Reruns of the series are currently airing on MTV2, and occasionally on Comedy Central.

In 1996, the series was spun off into an animated feature film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.

The show centers on a pair of teenagers, Beavis and Butt-head, who live in the fictional town of Highland, Texas. They while away their time in sarcastic conversation, fantasizing about sex and masculinity, although they have no real-world experience with either thing. They attend Highland High (based on a real high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Judge grew up) and occasionally work at part-time jobs, putting as little effort as possible into everything they do. They survive their misadventures without serious consequences, and with a generally contented, though critical (not apathetic) worldview. During each episode, Beavis and Butt-head watch and make fun of two or three music videos.

Characters

The two characters often spend time around TV, junk food (usually nachos), Fruity Whips (a beverage similar to a Slurpee), shopping malls, heavy metal music, and utterly futile efforts at trying to "score with chicks". Beavis typically wears a blue Metallica T-shirt (in some earlier episodes, a Slayer T-shirt), while Butt-head is usually seen wearing a grey AC/DC T-shirt. (On some merchandising items these shirts were changed to read "Skull" and "Death Rock" due to trademark and licensing issues.) Their family names are never mentioned on the show individually, But in Beavis and Butt-head Do America, Butt-head comments that his first name is Butt and his surname is Head. Along similar lines, their parents are conspicuously absent, although Butt-head regularly comments on Beavis' mother, claiming she is "a slut". The film features a scene where they meet two middle-aged adult males who bear a strong resemblance to the duo and are most likely their fathers; the two men said they slept with two sluts from Highland (Beavis and Butthead's hometown).

Beavis
Has an underbite and a fixated stare on his face, which is almost always shown in profile. Beavis grunts when he laughs, has a grainy, guttural voice and has a penchant for picking his nose. The more excitable of the two, he is oblivious to the obvious and slightly nicer overall than Butt-head. He is often abused physically, either by Butt-head or various other characters whom he infuriates. He usually takes every beating and screams in pain before quickly reverting back to his trademark laugh. Before controversy erupted (see below) he exhibited an obsession with fire, as well as other psychotic tendencies (one episode showed that he has voices in his head telling him to engage in destructive activities); however, generally he has a passive demeanor in contrast to Butt-head's dominant personality. Beavis also has an alter ego named The Great Cornholio, who usually surfaces after he consumes large quantities of caffeine and/or sugar. Beavis was named after Bobby Beavis, a boy who lived in the same neighborhood as Mike Judge during Judge's time in college. Judge states, however, that it was only the name that he gave to Beavis, and that Bobby was nothing like Beavis at all.
Butt-head
Wears dental braces and 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 a short laugh. Calmer, and cockier. Butt-head is oblivious to subtleties, but is usually 100% confident in everything he says and does, no matter how ridiculous or frivolous it is. The designated "leader" of the duo, he derives pleasure from being regularly abusive to Beavis. Mike Judge got the idea for the name Butt-head from two people he knew during his childhood called "Iron Butt" (who would encourage people to kick him in the butt to demonstrate his strength) and "Butt-head".
Tom Anderson
The nearsighted, elderly neighbor of Beavis and Butt-head. He often hires them to do chores, which results in them 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. 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 character Hank Hill from Judge's following series, King of the Hill as both were based on the same person from Judge's youth.
David Van Driessen
A teacher at Highland High School, and arguably the only person who cares about Beavis and Butt-head. 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, and literature, among others.
Coach Bradley Buzzcut
Another of the duo's high school teachers, and the antithesis of Van Driessen. Angry, impatient and short-tempered, Buzzcut is a veteran Marine 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, but he once defended them from an angry guest lecturer by saying "This is my class. I do the ass kicking around here!"
Principal McVicker
Principal of Highland High and, arguably, Beavis and Butt-head's arch-nemesis. The two have unintentionally ruined his life, and have driven him to the edge of insanity. Many episodes begin with Beavis and Butt-head in his office. They refer to him as "McDicker." He is known for constantly trembling out of anxiety over Beavis and Butt-head, their antics, and his inevitably futile attempts to punish them. In the series finale, Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead, upon hearing the news of Beavis's and Butt-head's "deaths", he stops trembling for the first time. When they show up to their own memorial services very much alive, he apparently suffers a heart attack and presumably dies.
Daria Morgendorffer
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 help and advice from time to time, and probably respects them a little more than most do. The duo nicknamed her "Diarrhea" but once said she was cool after she asked President Clinton a pointed question during a school assembly. She eventually went on to star in her own spin-off series, Daria.
Todd Ianuzzi
Todd is a twenty-something hoodlum who is rude, arrogant, and violent. Beavis and Butt-head look up to him and aspire to join his "gang". Todd despises the two, but will take advantage of them when he needs something, such as money, or a place to hide from other gangs or the police.
Stewart Stevenson
A nerdy, short kid who looks up to Beavis and Butt-head and believes they are his best friends. He typically wears a Winger shirt. Beavis and Butt-head actually think little of Stewart; they relate to him like Todd relates to them.

Minor characters

Recurring themes

The series has a number of recurring elements.

  • They cause havoc at their place of employment, Burger World, a fast-food joint modeled on McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. The name and the employee uniforms are a tribute to the Weird Al Yankovic film UHF. Beavis and Butt-head spend little real time genuinely working, and when they try to work they are often too incompetent to take a customer's order. They have been known to serve bugs and dead mice with orders or mix motor oil with hot cooking oil and start fires. Once Beavis caused an outbreak of food poisoning when he served burgers infected with a pathogen from genital itching he was enduring. The boys have also had brief stints as secretaries, telemarketers and radio personalities.
  • They cause trouble at school. They are usually pitted against their teachers and other school officials. Principal McVicker is visibly agitated by the duo's antics.
  • One of their most prominent goals in life is to "score" with chicks. Neither of them meets with any success. They occasionally spend Friday nights at Maxi-Mart, attempting to flirt with any female they encounter until the manager runs them off. They have come close on a few occasions, although they are too stupid to take advantage of the situation. In Vidiots they went to a video dating service where the woman behind the counter was completely enamored with Beavis (who gave the fake name Geraldo) while Butt-head recorded a video saying he was a "pleasure machine". But they forgot about Geraldo and "pleasure machine" and ignored calls and visits from women who wanted to date them. In Another Friday Night the duo were mistaken for armed robbers while asking for food to be delivered to two attractive women at the Maxi-Mart, and the women began dancing with Beavis until the owner threw them out of his store.
  • Beavis occasionally transforms into his alter ego, The Great Cornholio. His transformation is indicated by pulling the back of his T-shirt over the top of his head, and proclaiming largely nonsensical utterances in an exaggerated Spanish-sounding accent, such as "I am the Great Cornholio!", "Are you threatening me?", and "I need T.P. for my bunghole!" This transformation is caused by Beavis' rapid consumption of large amounts of sugar, caffeine or other stimulants. As Cornholio, Beavis once became a star beat poet (Buttniks), but he also got deported to Mexico after being mistaken for an illegal immigrant at Burger World (Vaya Con Cornholio).
  • They cause trouble for neighbor Tom Anderson. They have sold most of his possessions, destroyed his house, put his poodle in the washing machine and even gotten him arrested by the ATF. Because his poor vision results in him being unable to consistently recognize them, he continues to hire the two for odd jobs.
  • They love to eat nachos and other "junk food" snacks.
  • They frequently point out double-entendres. A large part of the show's humor derives from their propensity to derive some crude or sexual reference from virtually any situation or verbiage. For example, in Beavis and Butt-head Do America, Mr. Van Driessen says "We don't need TV to entertain us", from which the boys extract the word "anus". Butt-head is usually the one who points these out, saying, "Huh-huh...you said (whatever crude or sexual reference applies)."
  • In earlier episodes, they would sometimes try to find ways to obtain hallucinogenic or mind-altering substances or engage in an activity that would simulate the effect. An example of this can be seen in Sick, in which they attempt to obtain the leading prescription cough syrup after seeing an advertisement that says it is nearly 70% alcohol.
  • The duo occasionally get involved with trends and fads such as self help gurus, cults, moneymaking schemes, and various forms of therapy and discipline visited upon them by school officials. They always make a disastrous botch of all of these.

Holiday specials

Four holiday specials were produced -- one for Halloween, two for Christmas and one for Thanksgiving.

  • The Halloween special, entitled Bungholio: Lord of the Harvest (Butt-O-Ween), involved them attempting to trick-or-treat. At the end of the episode, Beavis gets killed with a chainsaw when a man tells Beavis to get in the barn, and later Beavis wakes up to find himself on a meat hook and Butt-head and the man bring out chainsaws in ridiculous costumes, i.e. Beavis dressed up as a giant "nad" (testicle), by wearing underpants on his head and Butt-head decided to go as Nachos, by pouring hot cheese-sauce over his head. The following scene was removed from all later airings of the Halloween episode and also all VHS and DVD releases: While trying out different costumes in their bathroom (e.g. Butt-head's "monkey-sheets"), Beavis suggests going as a "wuss" by wearing a Winger T-shirt, which is usually worn by Stewart, singing "She's only seventeen", upon which Butt-Head slaps him in the face.
  • The first Christmas special featured the pair sitting in front of the television providing crude commentary on various aspects of Christmas, and commentating 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 that parodied A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life, as well as Christmas-themed music videos and several segments in which Butt-head answered fan mail dressed as Santa Claus.
  • 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". 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. Amongst 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 only shows it in a heavily edited format without the music videos or the celebrity appearances.

Featured music videos

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 by Black Sabbath, they decided that the band's vocalist couldn't be Ozzy Osbourne, because "Ozzy's an old fart!" Butt-head mistook their raw sound for grunge and inquired if they were from Seattle; Beavis replied "No, they're American," even though Seattle is located in Washington, one of the United States, and 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." However, at other times they seemed almost respectful and willing to learn about music.

Video critiques

When confronted with a song/video they didn't like, they usually watched it anyway, commenting on how bad it was. However, if they couldn't stand it, their solution was to change the channel. Mostly, 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 watching a Frank Zappa video, and changed the channel during the video to come across the Europeans' "We Are Animals" 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!").

They showed a particular disdain for many generic 1980's hair bands (with the exception of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Van Halen and to a lesser extent, Aerosmith). Their epitome of "wuss bands" was Winger, of which Stewart was a big fan. They had no tolerance for new wave or electronic music (except for industrial music, and Devo's "Whip It"). Nu metal bands such as Korn were criticized for lacking originality (although this was only by Beavis when he was in a state of dizziness, he did claim however that they sound "kinda cool"). The duo were also very critical of death metal, particularly the vocal style of the genre, mocking it, and claiming that "it sounds like it would come out of Godzilla's butt".

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. The famous pianist Yanni also earned a very harsh critique from the boys. Sometimes, while giving a harsh review for a video, the duo gives a review to another band or musician despite the video not belonging to them in the first place; this was the fate 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 without speaking a word changed the channel. This was perhaps the harshest commentary they ever gave a music video. The Europeans's video for "We Are Animals" was the most critically trashed by the duo, as Butt-head claimed, "This sucks more than anything I have ever seen." Another video that could make this claim was King Diamond's "The Family Ghost," in which Butt-head claimed, "This could be the worst crap I've ever seen in my life."

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 down, Lars, and drum like you're supposed to!" Judas Priest's video for "Breaking The Law" also drew a negative reaction ("I like Priest and everything, but this sucks!"), despite the fact that Beavis and Butt-head sang the song itself numerous times throughout the series. Soundgarden's Spoonman also got a negative review, despite the pair being fans of the band. Beavis was annoyed that Soundgarden did not appear in the video, and Butt-head interpreted the lyric "all my friends are brown and red" as stating that the singer hated his friends, referring to them as "turds".

Beavis and Butt-head also shared a disdainful dislike of many bands from England, even dismissing legendary rock bands just upon their birthplace; While watching a Pink Floyd video, he claimed that they were "Just another bunch of wussies from England." Other bands, such as The Shamen and Blur, were mocked for their British accents. The duo also made fun of performers who were effeminate or androgynous, and often evinced disgust or fear towards notions of male homosexuality.

Positive critiques

Beavis and Butt-head rarely expressed complete enjoyment about any video; but a few bands did draw more favorable attention from the two than others. Their preference was death metal and heavy metal. They also had a deep admiration for Ozzy Osbourne and sang the Iron Man or Electric Funeral tune when they were excited about something or to celebrate. They also used Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water tune to a lesser extent to express excitement. They also liked funk, rock and rap. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain is said to have been ecstatic at having the video for "Heart Shaped Box" praised by Beavis and Butt-head, and deemed it a great compliment. Indeed, even when drummer Dave Grohl's next band, Foo Fighters, was reviewed (the song was I'll Stick Around), the two were positive about the song because Grohl "was the drummer from that band, Nirvana." White Zombie, Type O Negative, Onyx, Iron Maiden, the Violent Femmes, Anthrax, PJ Harvey, Morbid Angel, the Beastie Boys, Coolio, Suicidal Tendencies, Primus, Tool, Slayer, Pantera, Dr. Dre and Iggy Pop were also among the groups for whom Beavis and Butt-head expressed appreciation, and the two groups that earned their fondest reviews were GWAR, which even hard-core heavy metal music critics have denounced as having tuneless reviews, and the Butthole Surfers. Beavis voiced his estimation that every video should be like a GWAR video. Beavis and Butt-head lauded Bananarama'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 stated that "if you wanna rule, you gotta be cool, like, all the time, like, even when you're taking a dump and stuff, like GWAR." Beavis has even claimed that Metallica was not as cool as GWAR, despite the fact that he wore a Metallica T-shirt. The video which the duo declared to be officially the "best ever" was Ministry's Just One Fix. 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). Interestingly the duo had mixed feelings about a rock band The Jesus Lizard, when Beavis exclaimed in response to a video, "If you're gonna suck, you might as well try to kick ass, like, Jesus Lizard, they suck, but they kick ass." Alice Cooper was another artist the duo regularly liked; they were very fond of "Lost in America," claiming they could relate to many of the song's lyrics. Beavis also thought he saw Alice Cooper in a Girlschool (An all-female band) video, to which Beavis then stated, "You couldn't put Alice Cooper in an all-chick band because the chicks would be all over him."

Beavis and Butt-Head seemed to be fans of most of the Seattle Grunge bands of the era; including Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam (but notably, they never viewed any Pearl Jam videos). Four videos by Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were featured on the show with notable praise from the duo, two Nirvana videos were also featured. Members of the Alice in Chains (most notably Sean Kinney) were fans of the show, and were flattered that the band received such a direct thumbs up from the show. Despite not understanding the lyrics to the Melvins "Hooch", they enjoyed it nonetheless. They even gave comical interpretations of what they thought the lyrics were such as "Done right like a belgy!", "Exit is my raging member, banging on a TV!", and "Like a steaming photographing on a wire relay in a state of!".

Both Beavis and Butt-head seemed excited in the Smashing Pumpkins's video Today when they saw the people "making out," when the band painted the ice cream truck, and when the band started throwing things at Billy Corgan, the lead singer. They even praised Radiohead, a band that is usually not regarded as the duo's type of music; Creep got a positive review because of its heavy guitar riffs, while they claimed they liked to mellow out to Fake Plastic Trees (they usually hated soft songs). Beavis was also excited over the Replacements video Bastards of Young, which ends with a stereo being destroyed. The duo showed favor towards the video for Milla Jovovich's The Gentleman Who Fell, from her album The Divine Comedy, though it may have been due to the fact that Jovovich appeared in various stages of undress throughout the video. One of the strangest and 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 weren't the Black Crowes, but danced to the song anyway). Motörhead is also a band that they seemed to love, but they only seemed to compliment Lemmy. In fact, 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 have a fondness for hip-hop, especially gangsta rap. Rap groups and performers such as Snoop Dogg, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Run DMC, 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 ("We jus' kickin' it...in tha hang-outs," "I'm a G, a straight "G" (Butt-head responded, "Yeah, you're a "G" for "Gonad")," "Droppin' plates on yo ass, beotch"). Beavis even went as far as to say, "You know when Coolio says, 'I can see myself in the pistol smoke?' He stole that from Snoop Dogg!"

Funk music was likely another genre they liked. They were seen dancing to various funk songs, and especially liked some bands that incorporated elements of funk into their music.

One of their oddest reviews was that of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Dang" video, where they endlessly praised it, simply because it was a music video.

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 (a musician whom the duo refer to as a "wuss band") in which Beavis claimed to enjoy the song causing Butt-head to smack him repeatedly, claiming to do 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 spitting, "Damn it, Butt-head, Bon Jovi rules! I like this song, so blow your ass, damn it!" 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. Also, during the video for Rush's Stick it Out, Beavis seemed to like them, even going so far as sing a bit of The Spirit of Radio, but Butt-head dismissed guitarist Alex Lifeson as a wuss. In another episode, during the review for Metallica's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Butt-head repeatedly claims that Metallica sucks, much to Beavis's annoyance. However, in an earlier review, Butt-head shares Beavis's love of Metallica. This can imply that by the time they were watching the former, Butt-head had either grown to dislike the band, or was just criticizing them to annoy Beavis.

The duo also had a liking of vocalist Mike Patton and his band Faith No More. It can be assumed that the pair may have attempted to give some videos the ultimate compliment. The ultimate compliment would likely 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 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 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 has told Beavis to shut up because he wanted to see the video. Beavis once told Butt-head to shut up when Butt-head wouldn't stop talking during a Rancid video. After Butt-head menacingly told Beavis to never ever tell him to shut up again, Beavis kicked Butt-head in the testicles, told him to shut up again, and left the room to get some food.

Other antics

The duo would occasionally engage in physical humor during the videos. These antics ranged from simple comic violence, such as slapping, punching, and kicking one another, to the duo's memorable dances, which ranged from a few simple arm motions, to the dances listed below. Other antics included Butt-head masturbating, a card game, the pair sleeping, and Beavis getting seizures. A particularly memorable moment of their famous dance sessions can be seen during the viewing of the video for Step Down by the hardcore punk group Sick of it All, where the names of Beavis and Butt-head's dance moves are named on the screen in a blatant parody of the video itself. The dance moves included:
Headbanging while making the sign of the beast/playing air guitar.
"The Dillhole" - Butt-head makes pelvic thrusts while Beavis punches and kicks in the air.
"The Bunghole" - Butt-head shakes his butt while Beavis jumps up and down with a gyrating motion.
"The Fartknocker Double Inverted Nad Twist" - Butt-head jumps back and forth across the room while Beavis sways his arms.
"The Monkey Boy" - Beavis humps the couch while Butt-head just stares at him in shock. (note that this was not included in the Step Down video, but Beavis' reply when Butt-head was curious about what he was doing was "Doin' my monkey boy")
Swaying their heads in unison to the beat of softer or slower songs.

As well as dancing, they also sang during some music video reviews. This ranged from imitating the instrumentation, singing along with the lyrics, or even mocking the singing style of some singers (Butt-head particularly liked to imitate death metal vocalists). If they weren't familiar with a song, but knew the band, they would sing one of the band's more famous songs (on one occasion Beavis noticed that they were watching a Primus video and sang a part of "My Name Is Mud"). If they weren't familiar with the song or band at all, they would sing something that sounded similar to the song. One instance occurred when a video for "F-Sharp" by Nudeswirl came on, and Beavis started singing "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses. Butt-head also sang along with Biz Markie during the song "Just A Friend."

They showed some signs of intelligence when it came to some bands and artists, despite the fact that they didn't know much about even their favourite bands. On one occasion, they claimed that "Pantera" had an abusive upbringing, but they meant lead singer Phil Anselmo, not the whole band. They knew practically nothing about the band Hole, and thought that Hole was the name of the lead singer. However, they could recognize James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bono and The Edge from U2 (although they referred to Bono as "Boner") and Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses. During a Foo Fighters video review, Butt-head recognizes the lead singer as Dave Grohl, referring to him as "that dude from Nirvana." 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 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 (though this is probably a jab at Chili Peppers' frontman Anthony Kiedis accusing Mike Patton of ripping his style off). In another review, they were watching a video by a band called Sausage (a side project of Primus' Les Claypool). Beavis thought this band was actually Primus (ironically, he was close to correct, since Sausage was comprised of the original members of Primus), while Butt-head believed they were a fictional band called the Seminiferous Tubloidial Buttnoids.

It is implied that the duo did drugs during music video reviews, as evidenced by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's video for "Dang", where Beavis asks Butt-head if he has any nutmeg. Nutmeg can cause hallucinations in high doses, but there is no other evidence to suggest that they did drugs.

There were times where critiques of the videos were minimal or even nonexistent. Some videos were praised or disparaged only once, usually at the start, after which they began discussing a subject in the video (such as with Green Day's "Basket Case" video, where they began talking about the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Some videos received no critiques at all, positive or negative. It can be assumed that they deliberately ignored some videos, citing Butt-head's comment during a Ween video ("Quit talking about this video and do something funny!") and some episodes in which they played a card game, slept, or even left the room rather than watch the video.

On several occasions, the two mistook bandmates for other celebrities, such as The Clash guitarist Mick Jones as Jerry Seinfeld, a member of Japanese pop band Pizzicato Five as Ernie from "My Three Sons" and Yanni 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 and Monica Seles as Monica Phallus. They even mistook Rosie O'Donnell, in the video "The Bedrock Twist" from the B-52s, for Roseanne and called her Buttseanne.

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. Sometimes they praised the subject, but were more often derisive.

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.

In 1997 Dan Tobin of The Boston Phoenix praised the series for its humor, stating that the series "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.

Actor Patrick Stewart, in an interview with Conan O'Brien, professed his affection for the show, stating "it will go down in history as one of the great cultural icons of the 20th century".

Fire! Fire!

Early episodes gave them a juvenile obsession with fire and dangerous behavior (summed up with Beavis' chant of "Fire! Fire!"). The show was blamed for a child's death which occurred in West Carrollton, 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 child's family blamed the show even though it was clear that they did not even have a cable TV subscription, which sparked the wrath of media watchdog groups. As a result, the references were excised from further broadcastings, being replaced by silly stunts, bad pick-up lines, etc. The creators 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 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...WHOA!". References to fire were cut from earlier episodes - even the original tapes were altered permanently. Other episodes MTV opted not to rerun (Examples include "Stewart's House" and "Way Down Mexico Way"). Early episodes with the controversial content intact are rare, and are traded on homemade tapes made from the original broadcasts. In an interview included with the recent Mike Judge Collection DVD set, Judge denied being certain if some of the earlier episodes still existed in their uncensored form.

One could interpret some future jokes within the show as jabs about the controversy, despite the fact that their pyromania had already been an established character trait.

In February 1994, watchdog group "Morality in Media" blamed the death of an 8-month-old girl struck by a bowling ball thrown from an overpass onto a Jersey City, New Jersey highway near the Holland Tunnel on the episode "Ball Breakers", in which Beavis and Butt-head loaded a bowling ball with explosives and dropped it from a rooftop. The 18-year-old man arrested for the crime did not have access to cable, however, and the show was eventually cleared of blame.

The original disclaimer in the first and second seasons shown before each episode was:

Beavis and Butt-head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy who we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-head are dumb, crude, ugly, thoughtless, sexist, self-destructive fools. But for some reason the little wiener heads make us laugh.

MTV also responded by broadcasting the program after 11:00 P.M., and changing the original disclaimer to a new one, reminding viewers that:

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.

This disclaimer also appears before the opening of their Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo game.

They were famously lambasted by Democratic senator Fritz Hollings as "Buffcoat and Beaver," which would subsequently become a running gag on the show of adults mispronouncing their names, as well as in the movie, where an old lady consistently calls them "Travis" and "Bob-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 and is considered by many to be the show's highlight. With regard to criticisms of the two as "idiots," Judge responded that a show about straight-A students would not be funny.

Films

In 1996, Mike Judge released a full-length movie featuring the duo entitled Beavis and Butt-head Do America. 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 movie critiques 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 doing a live action spin-off movie. He said that previously he despised the idea, but now he thinks "maybe there's something there.

Related media

  • A CD appeared, named The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience 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 named "Come to Butt-head". The track with Cher also resulted in a music video, which hints strongly at the end that Butt-head "scored" with Cher after telling Beavis to leave (despite that, at the end, the two are seen wearing virtual reality goggles).
  • In 1995 an adventure game based on the series was released, called Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity on the PC. A CD-i port was planned but was cancelled due to falling sales of the console. Atari also made an arcade game in 1996, but it was never released.
  • Marvel Comics release a comic book series about Beavis and Butt-head.
  • Many video games, like 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 exist.
  • For AC/DC's 1996 tour, they had an intro film made with Beavis and Butt-head attempting to score with girls who are going backstage to meet the guys in AC/DC. After a couple unsuccessful attempts, one of them bangs on the door and a cartoon version of Angus Young (made to look a bit like Angus's own drawing of himself) and whistles for the Ballbreaker woman to chase them away. It was used for all the shows, and was eventually released officially on Plug Me In.
  • In the Sketch show Robot Chicken Beavis and Butt-Head join the Teen Titans in their battle against evil. However it goes horribly wrong when they don't do their "ass-signment" and don't use the "knob" which powers up the suits. This sketch was removed due to copyright issues.

Other appearances

Beavis and Butt-head have appeared on several shows besides their own.

  • In 1994, to promote their upcoming movie, Beavis and Butt-head appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. Prior to this, creator Mike Judge was a guest on the same show, and showed a brief short in which Beavis & Butt-head were drawn with the physical characteristics of Paul Shaffer and Letterman, respectively. The short was later used in the episode "Late Night With Butt-head".
  • Butt-head had a cameo on the MTV Oddities series The Head, as a courier with a video tape. Upon being kicked in the rear by an F.B.I. agent, he said, "That sucked."
  • Also in 1994, the duo appeared (voices only) in the movie Airheads, starring Brendan Fraser, during the scene where disc jockey Ian the Shark (Joe Mantegna) was taking calls from listeners. Beavis and Butt-head appeared on the air and made the comment that the Lone Rangers (the central characters' rock band) sucked.
  • In the 1995 film Clueless, Alicia Silverstone's character is watching the show before Paul Rudd's character mocks it and changes to a news channel.
  • On the show Friends, Joey and Chandler are seen laughing stupidly at a Beavis and Butt-head episode, during a show where they have gotten new Barcaloungers and stayed in them to eat and watch TV for days on end, which is of course the sort of thing B&B did most of the time on MTV.
  • On the show Step By Step, Dana and Karen are forced to go out with two friends of Richie, who are exact copies of Beavis and Butt-head
  • Several years later, the characters were presenters during the 1997 Academy Awards telecast. They presented the Oscar for Best Sound Editing.
  • Beavis and Butt-head have also appeared in several MTV Video Music Awards, most recently in the 2005.
  • In the Computer Game Police Quest: Open Season, you are told at the impound lot that the password is Beavis and Butthead
  • In 2008, Beavis and Butt-head also appeared during the MTV Jackass 24 Take Over. In the clip, Beavis and Butt-head were watching Steve-O's music video for "Poke That Puss" and commenting. When Beavis suggests that they might like this video better if they were black, in a dream sequence, Butt-Head imagines themselves as being black, Butt-Head being "Black-Head" drinking a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor and Beavis being "Ceavis," making pseudo-intellectual comments about racial equality and such.
  • Beavis and Butt-head appear in the episode "Fandemonium 2000" of Celebrity Deathmatch, Beavis wins the match by chopping Butthead to pieces with a knife and tongs that were replacements for his arms that he lost earlier while in his Cornholio persona.

References to pop culture in the show

  • In response to his car not starting, Coach Buzzcut yells "what is your major malfunction?!" in reference to Full Metal Jacket.
  • The two unseen individuals administering the polygraph tests in the "Liar, Liar" episode are named Mr. O'Brien and Julia, in reference to characters in George Orwell's 1984.
  • In "A Very Special Episode", Butt-head misreads the word "symptoms" as "Simpsons" and continues with, "Uh, they're pretty cool." At the time the episode premiered, The Simpsons had surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running primetime animated series on TV.
  • A Christmas special features a reference to the movie It's a Wonderful Life with Butt-Head.

Spin-offs

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 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, who became a producer for Daria. In the first episode of Daria, Daria and her family move from Beavis and Butt-head's hometown of Highland to Lawndale. None of the other characters from Beavis and Butt-head ever appear on Daria.

Videos and DVDs

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 1994. Each tape contained approximately eight episodes, each selected from the first four seasons. Although most of the episodes were presented complete (but without music video segments), a handful of episodes from Seasons 2 and 3 were edited for content similar to their broadcast runs. Nine more VHS compilations were released from 1995 to 1999 for a total of 11, containing episodes from every season of the show except the first.

The Contents of the Work Sucks! and There Goes The Neighborhood VHS compilations were combined into a single LaserDisc compilation entitled Beavis and Butt-head: The Essential Collection, which was also released by Sony Music Video in 1994. This was the sole release of Beavis and Butt-head in the LaserDisc format.

All VHS collections of episodes are out of print. They were compiled into two sets of three multi-episode Time-Life DVD releases called The Best of Beavis and Butt-head, which are also no longer available. A set of three DVDs from Time-Life containing the same content as 6 of the VHS editions was released in December 2002. The remaining 5 VHS programs were also released on DVD soon afterwards but were not equally advertised (if at all) and are subsequently rarer.

Several more VHS compilations were also released exclusively in the United Kingdom, between 1997 and 2002, in addition to PAL versions of the eleven American tapes. Some UK-only compilations include a three-part series entitled History of Beavis which contained the all of the Season 1 episodes, as well as a "Too Dumb For TV" compilation dedicated to some of the banned episodes such as "Stewart's House" and "Way Down Mexico Way". A fourth volume of History of Beavis was scheduled, but pulled from release at the last minute. Unlike the American tapes, some of the UK-only tapes contained music videos.

A two-disc DVD set titled The History of Beavis and Butt-head was scheduled for release in September 2002 containing the program content of four of the UK-exclusive VHS tapes. However, its release was cancelled at the last moment at the demand of Judge, who owns 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 was 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. All prior VHS and DVD releases have lacked these segments except for the VHS release of Beavis and Butt-head Do Christmas, and the last disc of the second Time-Life set.

23 of the 40 episodes included on the Mike Judge Collection were advertised to have been director's cuts containing "previously censored material". However, the majority of the "Director's Cut" episodes are actually missing footage from their original broadcast versions, although two episodes ("Home Improvement" and "Lawn and Garden") did indeed have excised footage reinstated. The reason for these edits is unknown, although Mike Judge stated in a Houston Chronicle article on the release that he corrected certain animation mistakes on the DVD that he found to be troublesome. The following (known to date) edits were all made in Vol. 1 in order to correct "animation mistakes" according to Mike Judge:

  • Lawn & Garden: The part where Butt-Head holds the chainsaw and screams "Welcome to the Jungle...you're gonna die" while headbanging has been removed.
  • 1-900-BEAVIS: The lines "She said something", "I think I just inoculated" and "Hey, maybe we'll hear some butt wind" have been removed.
  • Madame Blavatsky: Beavis and Butt-head's fighting scene at the end is cut short, also Madam Blavatsky's line, when she says "The end of the world" has been edited.
  • Late Night With Butt-head: First minute and a half of this episode has been removed, instead it starts with Beavis and Butt-head pitching the idea for their talk show. Letterman's cameo voice appearance has been removed. Also, Beavis and Butt-head celebrating with an air guitar chant after successfully pitching their show has been removed.
  • Right On: A scene where Beavis and Butt-head are doing their air guitar chant, after they found out they will be on the Gus Baker show has been removed. Also, at the very end, the part where Butt-head tells Beavis that it wouldn't hurt to wipe once in while has been removed.
  • Date Bait: Scene where Beavis & Butt-head are on the couch with a cold and Butt-head doing the "Handbanging-Sneeze" (also showing the Metal sign) has been removed.
  • Figure Drawing: Teachers comment about teaching a class on Aroma Therapy is removed. Three or four lines have also then been cut after Beavis and Butt-head rearrange the letters on the sign. Several other dialogue cuts were made throughout.
  • Teen Talk: Scene where Beavis and Butt-head do their air guitar chant, after Lolita and Tanqueray ask if they want to make out behind the risers has been removed.
  • Held Back: In the scene where Beavis and Butt-head are in 3rd grade and won't fit in the chairs, the lines "This desk is giving me a stiffie" and "I don't even have room for a stiffie" have been removed.
  • Safe House: A scene with Beavis, Butt-head and Todd watching a funny "World of Bikini Sports" segment has been removed, when the bikini girl tells the sports anchor to take his hands off her ass.
  • Tainted Meat: Middle section of news broadcast talking about "a fierce new parasite" has been removed. It, much like the deleted scene in "manners suck" (see below) was included as an easter egg on disc 2.
  • Manners Suck: The ending where Beavis and Butt-head are in the stalls politely defecating is removed. It was, however included as an easter egg on disc 1.
  • Dream On: The duo sings and makes up their own Brady Bunch theme song lyrics.

The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 2 was released on June 13, 2006. This compilation features 40 additional episodes, 13 music videos, and a Brokeback Mountain parody featuring Beavis and Butt-head, which uses a similar score and format as Brokeback's movie trailer. The parody functions as a commercial for the DVD release of Mike Judge Collection, Volume 3. Also included are segments from the Beavis and Butt-head "Butt Bowl" specials, traditionally aired during halftime of the Super Bowl; parodies of Calvin Klein advertisements are also featured. In Volume 2, edits on previous VHS/DVD releases of the episode "Bungholio - Lord of the Harvest" (then called "Butt-o-Ween") have not been reinstated. The edit deleted a scene where the boys are trying out Halloween costumes in their bathroom and Beavis appears dressed up like Stewart, i.e. wearing a Winger T-shirt saying "Look...I'm a Wuss".

The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 3 was released on August 1, 2006. 42 episodes are featured, as well as 15 music video segments. Bonus features include the original, uncut "Frog Baseball" episode, and many (if not all) of the Christmas-related clips. Despite the criticism received over severe episode censorship in Vol. 1, edits were again made on at least two episodes - a scene where Beavis & Butt-head cut their teacher's chair in half was removed in "Woodshop", and a short line from Beavis in "Impotence".

On January 26, 2006, MTV and Apple released Beavis and Butt-head, Vol. 1 on the iTunes Store.

Books

  • Johnson, Sam; Chris Marcil MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: This Book Sucks. MTV Books, Callaway, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89034-4.
  • Johnson, Sam; Chris Marcil, Guy Maxtone-Graham, Kristofor Brown, David Felton, Glenn Eichler, Mike Judge MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: Ensucklopedia. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-52149-7.
  • Doyle, Larry MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: This Sucks, Change It!. MTV Books, Pocket Books, Melcher Media. ISBN 0-671-53633-8.
  • Doyle, Larry MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: Huh Huh For Hollywood. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00655-X.
  • 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.
  • Brown, Kristofor 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. ISBN 1-889647-28-4.
  • MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: Sticky Things. Boston America Corp. ISBN 1-889647-16-0.
  • Judge, Mike; Joe Stillman 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 MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: The Butt-Files. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01426-9.
  • Brown, Kristofor MTV'S Beavis and Butt-Head: Travel Log. MTV Books, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-01533-8.
  • Rheingold, Andy; Scott Sonneborn 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 (published December 2005). This collection is a bundle of the four books listed above which are no longer in print separately.
  • Sun, Douglas. [August 1998] “'Change It! This Sucks!': Beavis and Butt-head, Idiot Savants of Cultural Criticism.” in David E.E. Sloane (Ed.) New Directions in American Humor. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-0910-1

See also

References

External links

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