Get out your metal T-shirts and Burger World uniforms: Beavis and Butt-head are coming back to MTV. The cartoon duo, who “huh huh”ed their way through animated adventures and music videos from 1993 to 1997, were a favorite of Gen-X and Gen-Yers, most of whom stopped watching MTV years ago. So while we’re happy to see the boys back, we wonder how they’re going to fit into the network’s current programming model. After all, their primary original function was to provide Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary for music videos; since the channel’s not that into music anymore (the “M” in their name notwithstanding), the L.A. Times predicts that the boys will riff on MTV shows like Jersey Shore and Skins. Which could prove fruitful, since Snookie is just as hateable as Poison.
But, perhaps more pressingly, the teens and tweens who watch MTV nowadays may very well have no idea who the hell Beavis and Butt-head are. Yes, the Skins kids made the announcement at MTV’s upfront, and Justin Bieber was all excited about it on Twitter. But they don’t know Beavis and Butt-head. Not like we do. And so, as a public service for today’s youth (boy do we feel old), we humbly offer this brief guide to Beavis and Butt-head.
This may sound nuts, but there was a time when MTV not only showed music videos, they only showed music videos. Regular programming had crept into their schedule by the time B&B premiered in ’93, but music blocks were still regular enough that most of encountered Beavis and Butt-head for the first time when channel-surfing, stopping to watch a video, and then wondering who these goofy dudes talking over it were. The grunge-happy ‘90s being well underway, their most frequent target were the hair metal videos of the 1980s, to which they offered such trenchant commentary as “Uh… this sucks,” “This is horrible,” “This sucks more than anything I have ever seen,” and “I realized it was Michael Bolton, and my bowels let loose.”
Their facts were often wrong (they called Paul Simon “that old dude from Africa who used to be in the Beatles”) but their opinions were often right on the nose. Of Vanilla Ice, Beavis noted: “Y’know, they’re always like putting this guy down, and like, making fun of him and saying he sucks and stuff? But y’know um, he really does suck. And this is one of those times when everyone’s right.”
And they did occasionally come across a video that rocked hard enough to satisfy them; the opening riffs of a Pantera or White Zombie song would provoke immediate cries of “YES!” and “ROCK!” — though Butthead did have to calm Danzig (above) with a stern, “Settle down, Danzig.”