I remember how controversial the whole Bart Simpson “Proud to be an underachiever” thing was, and then all of sudden there was “Beavis and Butt-head” and no one ever mentioned it again. Bart Simpson was sort of mischievously wily, happily under read, and benign. The B-twins were willfully and gleefully stupid, barely literate, and dangerous to themselves and others. Perhaps that’s why the Simpsons eventually de-emphasized Bart in favor of the even less aware Homer. Beavis and Butthead made Bart look like Pat Boone to their Elvis.
They also potentially saved my life. I had been viciously tossed aside by who I was convinced to be my true love. I was miserable all of the time. Luckily for me at the time, “Beavis and Butt-head” were on MTV even more often than Sports Center was on ESPN. That show and maybe even just the inane sound of their constant laughing became one of the three things guaranteed to raise my spirits along with the sounds of John Lennon’s voice and all-girl rock bands. “Beavis and Butt-head” were a needed substitute for my usual diet of angry, damaged, and sullen misery. I considered myself to be in exile for as long as we were no longer together. I even retreated to my Grandparents’ for a while, and there was a time when my Grandmother would watch the show with me every night. God knows what she thought she was watching. She called them Beavis and Buckhead, but she did notice that it was the only time I ever smiled.
I had a friend once who really didn’t care much what he was doing as long as there was beer involved. Beavis and Butt-head would have worshiped that guy. All they need are nachos, a television set, and a couch. Somehow they find everything they come into contact with endlessly amusing and hilarious. The movie fills us in on their absent fathers, but we never get to see either of the boys’ moms. We know from hearsay that Beavis’ is a real slut, but we never see either of them. The boys’ impulses are always wrong, they say all the wrong things to women, and love to hurl out semi-obscenities especially Beavis. Hear the pure orgasmic joy he shows every time he hears or says the word bunghole. The animation was beyond crude but so were all those old Charlie Brown specials we all dug. It was hard at the time to conceive of anything cruder in terms of both attitude or animation, but pretty soon “South Park” tapes were being passed around by George Clooney and the boys struggled to hold on. Their movie being a last hurrah so to speak.
As for the film, I love the Shaft like score “If you mess with Beavis and Butt-head they will throw down and blow your a*s away!”, the pseudo Charlie’s Angels silhouettes, and especially the Giant Fire Breathing Beavis. All of this can be found in the opening credits alone.
When the boys find their TV set has been stolen, Beavis dramatically convinces us he’s going through something far worse than heroin withdrawal. Of course, I will never be able to see that big-busted statue at Cæsar’s Palace again without thinking about the two morons climbing all over it to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Roller Coaster of Love”. Beavis goes Cornholio a couple of time to great effect, and repeats his ‘we’re never gonna score’ rant near the end of the movie. David Letterman adds to his wry legend by vividly portraying Butthead’s hobo Motley Crue roadie father. Demi Moore and Bruce Willis play huge uncredited roles here which amazingly I can’t remember being leaked to the public at all before the movie came out. Question though: Is Chloris Leachman really this hip or was she not really sure what she was lending her voice to? My favorite part? It’s gotta be their worshipful delight at a row of those laser sighted urinals.
In the old days, Beavis used to light up from time to time and yell, “Fire! Fire!” The cigarettes are gone but Beavis trips on peyote in the desert just like Jim Morrison used to, Butt-head finds himself with a real beer and Beavis’ favorite expression returns. The film is probably too much time to cover without seeming repetitive, especially with all of the full contact cavity search jokes, but I love that scene where their lives pass before Butthead’s eyes and we see them age from babies to teens all the while sitting on their couch watching television. “Whoa my life was cool,” he says. A wonderful devastation of the modern teenage wasteland. They didn’t so much cause the Colombine Massacre as they did predict it’s inevitability, but even the harshest critic has to recognize the sheer unbridled joy of their ignorance.