Every generation celebrates its own brand of moron

MIKE LITTWIN

July 23, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

I have seen the future, and, as you'd expect, it's on MTV. You can see it, too, if you tune in weeknights at 7 p.m. or 11 p.m.

I'm talking, of course, about Beavis and Butt-head.

I'm talkin' about th-th-th-their g-g-g-generation.

Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

If you don't know Beavis and Butt-head, you're either not a teen-ager or you're not parents of teen-agers or you don't know teen-agers or, face it, you're just extremely unhip.

For the uninitiated, I'll give you a quick intro. Beavis and Butt-head are the submoronic animated characters -- they make Wayne and Garth look like McNeil and Lehrer -- who have enthralled so many of our occasionally moronic and rarely animated teens.

Beavis wears a Metallica T-shirt and Butt-head an AC/DC T-shirt, and reading T-shirts is about as far as their education would take either of these basic head-bangers. They're ugly, crass, crude, lewd, sexist, anarchic, rebellious morons who are hung up on body parts.

No wonder kids love them. Some adults, too. It's the most popular show on MTV, and I don't even want to think about what's runner-up.

On the show, the boys mostly channel-surf videos and then grade them, in a more-to-the-point style than genetically timid Siskel and Ebert would ever dare.

Beavis and Butt-head also give two grades: The videos are cool, or they suck.

And after each pronouncement, there is the signature laugh. For Beavis, it's heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. For Butt-head, it's huh-huh-huh-huh-huh. Or is it the other way around? Either way, it's the most frightening sound you've heard since Janet Leigh was taking that shower in "Psycho."

Much, as it turns out, sucks, as you'd know if you watched the show, which also takes the dynamic duo on short excursions into the world.

Art sucks.

Words suck.

What's cool is throwing a poodle in the washing machine and then having our heroes throw up on the pooch.

Or going to school where the pair, in their terrifyingly vacant style, are unable to answer even the simplest questions. And George Washington is known only as the "dude on the dollar." Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

Or, of course, body parts.

This is funny?

Well, it's a funny thing whether or not it's funny, and it's got everything to do with generational divide.

I am of the "Woodstock Generation," placing me in that group destined to bore everyone younger than itself with stories of the rocking '60s, when everything was much, much cooler than today except we didn't have cable.

Then there's Generation X, which apparently hates my generation even though we gave them cable and remote control. The fact is, Generation Xers hate everything because -- I'm pretty sure this can be proven scientifically -- the first music many of them heard was "Have You Ever Been Mellow?" by Olivia Newton-John.

The emerging generation remains unnamed and unformed. But Beavis and Butt-head, the creation of a 30-year-old physics major, follow Bart Simpson as important influences.

Does that scare you?

Are you thinking maybe your children shouldn't be watching this show?

Do you cringe when your 9-year-old daughter calls your 11-year-old son "Butt-head." Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

If you're worried, I have two words for you: Mad magazine.

If you're like me, you grew up with Mad magazine, which made sophomoric humor into, well, something less than an art form. But it was funny. At least when I was 13, it was funny, although I don't remember very many actual grown-ups who would have agreed.

Alfred E. Neuman, with the space between his teeth and the larger one between his ears, is nothing less than the comic-book version of Beavis and Butt-head.

Sure, they're dumb. They've never read a book. They can't even sit through an entire video. But, face it, how many MTV videos can you sit through?

And wouldn't you like to be able to still see the world in such simple terms?

David Letterman is cool. Sam Nunn sucks.

All I know is that I'm the last person to say that a 13-year-old kid shouldn't have a moron or two he can relate to. I mean, other generations have managed to elect their share.

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