Beavis and Butt-head is an animated television series aired on MTV between 1993 and 1997. The cartoon twosome was created by Mike Judge, who also voices the two main characters. Beavis and Butt-head are a pair of dim-witted teenagers who live in Highland, Texas.
On the one hand, we have Beavis. The blond-haired pyromaniac always wears the same blue Metallica-shirt and is madly obsessed with fire, his typical phrase being “Fire! Fire!”. He has an alter-ego named ‘The Great Cornholio’, who makes his appearance in the series whenever Beavis has consumed too much caffeine or sugar.
On the other hand, Butt-head has brown hair and likes to dress down with a grey AC/DC-shirt. His favourite word is “uhh”, which is most of the time followed by chuckles. Butt-head often insults Beavis, who nevertheless does not understand these put-downs and ends up making fun of himself.
Beavis and Butt-head spend most of the time on a couch, watching music videos and talking about things ‘that suck’. When they are not lying down on their squab, they try to score with the girls or wreak havoc at the burger joint where they work. There, they deep-fry body parts or dead mice for fun.
With its combination of humour and implicit criticism of society, Beavis and Butt-head was very popular in the 1990s and drew positive as well as inevitable negative reactions. Some argued that the series allowed a humorous platform for the propagation of social criticism on behalf of a creative and intelligent comedy. Others simply accused it of stimulating dangerous behaviour.
In 1993, for instance, a mother claimed that her five-year-old son set fire to her van, thereby killing his two-year-old sister, after being ‘fire-inspired’ by an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. The story led to a virtual ‘fire fighting’ and any references to fire were cut from the series; henceforward, any ‘violent’ acts of pyromania had to take the fire exit. As a consequence, the creators made Beavis say words similar to ‘fire’, such as the oil-using ‘fryer’ or the minimal-pair ‘liar’.
In 1996, the teenagers appeared in their own film: Beavis and Butt-head Do America. One year later, the last episode of the series was broadcast and MTV started airing Daria instead. This spin-off from Beavis and Butt-head was based on their dry-witted classmate Daria, whom they loathingly called ‘Diarrhoea’.
On 14 July 2010, MTV confirmed the rumours that in the summer of 2011, new episodes of Beavis and Butt-head will be aired on American television. Mike Judge will once again generate the series and eventually voice the two main characters. The boys will still be teenagers at high-school, but the series will be updated, so that fun can be made of current targets such as Lady Gaga.