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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

December 13, 2005
It's starting to feel like the early '90s all over again. The recent Senate hearings over the content of cable TV - which may ultimately lead to government censorship of programming if the Networks don't regulate themselves - should elicit an outraged reaction from any sane person. I thought we all got over this at the turn of the century. How quickly I forget Janet Jackson's nipple.

In this age of terrorism, creeping conservatism, and a quagmire of a war, ass and titties on the tube should be the least of our concerns. Actually, it should be the least of our concerns regardless, but there's always someone getting just a little too titillated by hearing the word "damn" on television, someone who has to impose their morality on the rest of us. People who focus on asinine issues like this are doing the real damage by ignoring the real problems that, in spite of our "advancement" and "civility," are woven into the very fabric of our society. I'd like to send all the complainers a copy of the new 3-disc set, Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection, Volume One. If they don't at least chuckle through the course of these 40 episodes, music videos and special features, they're brain dead. Let's pull the plug... but I guess that would be opening up another Terri Schiavo dilemma, wouldn't it?

I remember thoroughly enjoying Beavis and Butt-Head in high school and into college, during the cartoon's storied 1993-1997 run. Back then, before Laci Peterson, Abu Ghraib, Jackass or even Paris Hilton, Mike Judge's rebellious show was cutting edge. How it would fare ten years later was a question I was ready to answer.

Today, a decade after the show's peak, the verdict remains the same: Self-conscious stupidity is fucking hilarious. Judge and company realized that it's OK to laugh at the utterly stupid, and it makes it even funnier when you realize how utterly stupid it is, and funnier yet when you acknowledge that you're laughing at it. Still with me? Granted, one must consider the disparity of the viewer who's in on the joke and can see the irony versus the viewer who doesn't get the satire and the societal self-deprecation. But really, it's not the enlightened viewer's responsibility to worry about those who may not get it, nor is it Mike Judge's. Controversy was astir during the run of the break-out hit on MTV, but the wry writers of the show managed to amp it up and subvert criticism anyway, finding ways of winking at Beavis' banned cry of "Fire," as detailed in the bonus featurette on disc 3, Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-Head, Part 1. Other bonus pieces on this disc include the B&B's appearances at MTV's Video Music Awards, some promos, and a Thanksgiving special with Kurt Loder. These are mildly entertaining, but reek of the over-commercialism that MTV tends to bring upon anything in its lineup that is even slightly successful. There is a collection of videos here as well, with the boys' droll commentary, from Butt-Head ordering Beavis to go make pancakes to their to-the-point observations about the staleness of modern rock. These are features missing from the reruns airing on Comedy Central (although they are a part of the episodes airing on MTV2), so it's nice to see them available on this set.

This set is a collection of episodes handpicked by Mike Judge himself, who admits in a note included in the box that "There's about a third... that I think is great and I'm really proud of, another third that is OK, and then another third that's really awful and embarrassing." The Mike Judge Collection is the first two-thirds. Disc 1 contains older episodes, and one can see the evolution of both animation and humor as they proceed. Classics on this disc include "No Laughing," where B&B are forced to sit through Mr. Buzzcut's sex-ed class without laughing - because if they do they will be shipped off to a high school where they'll get their asses kicked every day. We're going to be talking about the penis! Do you find that amusing? shouts Buzzcut as Butt-Head tries to stifle his incessant laughter. You feel for him here, as you do for both of them in "The Crush," one of the best episodes, where B&B are totally crushed out on Todd ("Todd's cool"), the local white trash badass who beats them up and throws them into the trunk of his car.

The second disc in the collection contains later episodes like "The Great Cornholio," one of the most bizarre Beavis-centric episodes ever (and possibly the most well-known) in which he pulls his shirt over his head after eating too much sugar, screaming, I am the great Cornholio! I need TP for my bunghole! Larger concepts abound on this disc, like Butt-Head's near death experience in "Choke" and Beavis' disgusting penis problem in "Tainted Meat." Don't roll your eyes - this is some of the most sophisticated moronic humor out there.

All the usual suspects are present - Principal McVicker, Mr. Van Driesen, Mr. Anderson, Stewart, and Daria - representing the cream of the show's iconic cast of characters, but no one could outshine the stars of Beavis and Butt-Head, who quickly became pop icons after the first episode aired. Their appeal was largely boosted by a teenage boy audience, but demographics really shouldn't dampen the hilarity of their antics: never scoring with chicks, eating nachos, maniacal laughter, and the constant use of primal and funny insults like "dillweed," "buttmunch," and "butt burglar."

The majority of today's popular "adult" cartoons have drawn, in one way or another, from Beavis and Butt-Head, and it is probably safe to say that if it weren't for the numb-skulled duo a host of current programs including Family Guy, South Park, and even The Simpsons would not be quite the same. As for the naysayers, let's call it a matter of taste, because trying to pin the decay of society on a show this sophomoric and sarcastic just lessens your argument.

Rating: 9/10

SEE ALSO: www.animationshow.com

--
Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.

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