The Beavis and Butt-Head Show

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The Beavis and Butt-Head Show

"Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They're not even human. They're cartoons. Some of the things they do would cause a real person to get hurt, expelled, possibly thrown out of the country. To put it another way: don't try this at home." So read the disclaimer that introduced the controversial cable cartoon show, The Beavis and Butt-Head Show, which aired on MTV (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) between 1993 and 1997. The show's main characters are two crudely animated adolescent boys, complete with acne and braces, who spend much of their time making fun of the music videos they watch on television (see entry under 1940s—TV and Radio in volume 3) and fantasizing about being rich, sexy, and cool—states they clearly will never attain.

The Beavis and Butt-Head Show was a harsh satire of the awkwardness, anger, and confusion of adolescence near the end of the twentieth century. The show touched a chord with young, mostly male members of the MTV audience. Created by Texas animator Mike Judge (1962–), Beavis and Butt-Head introduced a level of violence and gross-out humor that was new to TV cartoons. Best friends Beavis and Butt-Head are unattractive, dopey, and often mean (just like some teenagers), and audiences around the world tuned in to watch. The show was also later spun off into a film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996), and several video games (see entry under 1970s—Sports and Games in volume 4).

Although many teenagers and young adults laughed at Beavis and Butt-Head's misadventures, their parents were less amused. Many blamed the show for increased teen violence and disrespect. In late 1993, a five-year-old boy started a fire in his house that caused the death of his younger sister. His mother declared that her son had gotten the idea for the fire from watching Beavis's fascination with fire. During congressional hearings about TV violence, the show was brought up many times as an example of the negative influence of TV on youth, even though most members of Congress had never watched the program.

Following the end of The Beavis and Butt-Head Show, Judge went on to create Daria (1997–2001) for MTV and King of the Hill (1997–) for FOX.

—Tina Gianoulis

For More Information

Beavis and Butt-Head's Playground. (accessed April 8, 2002).

Gardner, James. "Beavis and Butt-Head." National Review (May 2, 1994): pp. 60–63.

Matthews, Joe. "Beavis, Butthead & Budding Nihilists: Will Western Civilization Survive?" Washington Post (October 3, 1993): p. C1.

McConnell, Frank. "Art Is Dangerous: Beavis & Butthead, for Example." Commonweal (January 14, 1994): pp. 28–31.

"Mike Judge." Current Biography (Vol. 58, no. 5, May 1997): pp. 22–26.