FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (23)
March 18, 2021
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite animated TV series.
BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD | MIKE JUDGE | 1993–1997
Nearing one of our last days at the agency we all used to work for, I sat on one of the couches with four other female creatives, all thirtysomethings. We weren’t talking about diets, or engagements, or projects at work. We were laughing nearly to the point of tears over two underdeveloped snickering teens, watching clips of Beavis and Butt-Head on YouTube.
While I don’t think Mike Judge created the show as an exercise in segmentation, it wasn’t known as a show aimed at women of my generation. No matter. The best parts of this buddy comedy weren’t their antics or interactions with other characters beyond their couch (though, Cornholio is a revelation.) What is so amusing and rewatchable is them doing something that I still love to do with my best friends — sit around watching music videos and skewering them, or proclaiming them cool — the purest form of criticism perfected by Gen Xers. If a scene starts with either Beavis or Butt-head deadpanning “Uhhhhhh what is this?” I know the exacting nature of the commentary to follow.
Their observations, though sometimes immature or too “of their time,” are the gold buried under the dumb tropes of Beavis screaming “FIRE!” and Butt-Head coolly mumbling “Hey baby.” Whether it’s Butt-Head endlessly provoking Beavis with ease — a “Metallica sucks” immediately setting him off on a treatise of why they don’t — or Beavis’ rare successes to clown Butt-Head or state an opinion that he agrees with (Kato Kaelin looking like the “ass-end of a dolphin” for example), the cultural critique in these exchanges is what still leads me to watch endless snippets hidden across users’ accounts to get around the pesky licensing of music videos and watchful eye of MTV.
When these shrewd music critics came back in 2011, I wondered what they’d rip on. MTV didn’t really show music videos anymore, the “music” in the name hollowed out by reality shows. What I didn’t anticipate was that the insults wouldn’t just continue between my two beloved couch riders, they would be aimed at all of the programming that had replaced their old targets. Snooki, “Uncle Juicehead,” “Grandpa Gorilla” and the whole Jersey Shore fam were ridiculed just like Yanni and Poison, with the same caliber of wit and disdain.
That day at my old office was a meta experience, I suppose — five women on a couch commenting while watching two cartoon teenagers on a couch commenting on what they were watching on a channel that no longer really existed for any of us. We saw the truth in what they were saying to one another; the cynicism toward and praise of the culture that shaped all of us.
FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: SERIES INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Miranda Mellis on STEVEN UNIVERSE | Luc Sante on TOP CAT | Peggy Nelson on PINK PANTHER | Charlie Mitchell on COWBOY BEBOP | Mimi Lipson on THE FLINTSTONES | Sam Glenn on BIG MOUTH | Mandy Keifetz on ROAD RUNNER | Ramona Lyons on SHE-RA | Holly Interlandi on DRAGON BALL Z | Max Glenn on ADVENTURE TIME | Joe Alterio on REN & STIMPY | Josh Glenn on SPEED RACER | Adam McGovern on KIMBA THE WHITE LION | Jonathan Pinchera on SAMURAI JACK | Lynn Peril on JONNY QUEST | Stephanie Burt on X-MEN THE ANIMATED SERIES and X-MEN: EVOLUTION | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on THE JETSONS | Adam Netburn on NARUTO | Madeline Ashby on AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER | Tom Nealon on TRANSFORMERS | Sara Ryan on BOJACK HORSEMAN | Michael Grasso on COSMIC CLOCK | Erin M. Routson on BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD | Deborah Wassertzug on DARIA | Lydia Millet on BOB’S BURGERS.
JACK KIRBY PANELS | CAPTAIN KIRK SCENES | OLD-SCHOOL HIP HOP | TYPEFACES | NEW WAVE | SQUADS | PUNK | NEO-NOIR MOVIES | COMICS | SCI-FI MOVIES | SIDEKICKS | CARTOONS | TV DEATHS | COUNTRY | PROTO-PUNK | METAL | & more enthusiasms!