Drawing the line for Beavis and Butt-head

December 22, 1996|By Bob Fenster | Bob Fenster,ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Dumb means cool when it comes to Mike Judge's "Beavis and Butt-head."

When you meet Judge, you can't help but think that this is what his cartoon creations will look like if they ever grow up.

Judge, who writes, draws and does the voices for both teen-age masters of the vulgar, is balding, sallow and a solemn eye-averter.

But he's obviously smarter than his characters, who have hit it big with their own MTV show as they assault every adult institution with gross-out humor and half-witted chortling. Judge continues that comic assault in the movie "Beavis and Butt-head America," an animated comedy that slams teachers, senior citizens and the Catholic Church.

Although Beavis and Butt-head are obsessed with sex, drugs and anything else that might offend adults, Judge pulls up shy of hard profanity.

"I've never had them say the F-word," he says. "I could have. But somehow if their language gets beyond being juvenile and vulgar and becomes too mean, they're not as likable."

Not all the people who like Beavis and Butt-head are what Judge describes as "over-the-top fans, the ones who start imitating Beavis and won't stop, the ones who send me letters with horrible misspellings."

"Everyone thinks this is guy humor," Judge says. "But I think there are more female fans than people think there are. Beavis and Butt-head are such pathetic guys, women feel sorry for them."

Judge, a math and physics major in college, didn't start out to offend half the population. "Math was just the easiest way for me to finish college," he says.

After a short career as an engineer, Judge played stand-up bass in a jazz band. He wanted to try skit comedy in an improv group, "but that would have meant I had to get people together, and I'm not good at that," he says.

So he turned to cartooning, because it was something he could do in a room by himself. After making a few animated shorts, Judge clicked with MTV. The rest is outrageous history.

He wrote the script for "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" and drew the models for the characters. The animation finish work was done by teams of artists in New York City and South Korea.

"The drawing is better than most people think," Judge says, "even though this is one of the fastest animated movies ever made."

Judge likes to shock, but he "doesn't feel responsible for all the things that Beavis and Butt-head have been accused of causing teen-agers to do."

Still, he doesn't let his own young kids watch the show.

"It's definitely not for 5-year-olds," he says. "It seems that no matter how many times I say it's adult animation, people think it's for kids."

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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