I probably took the news better than most. Then again, most of those worshipping at the altar of "Beavis & Butt-head" are pre-pubescent boys. Like their heroes, they are probably utterly oblivious that anything has happened.
But it's true. Come October, after 220 episodes, "Beavis & Butt-head" will be no more, the MTV network announced this week. Another American icon bites the dust, and I'm a little sad.
Like a lot of MTV programming, "B&B" was geared toward males ages 12 to 18, not strong, intelligent feminist women like myself. But somehow I was seduced. I'll admit it: There was a time when I thought nothing was sweeter
than the sight of a sleeping Beavis, hair tousled, eyes crusted with night boogers waiting to be cleared away.
It's never been easy explaining why I found the crassness of FTC "B&B" so comforting. Maybe it's because I never had brothers. Maybe I haven't fully grown out of my middle-school mentality. Or maybe it's because Beavis voices things I think but dare not say.
Oh, the memories. How many late evenings had my college roommate and I spent curled up on the couch, ingesting a steady diet of "Beavis & Butt-head" and hot cocoa? Will I ever forget those sessions of "Texts & Contexts" class sophomore year, in which we dissected "B&B" episodes for intellectual content (much to the professor's chagrin)?
Yes, sometimes -- OK, very occasionally -- buried under suffocating layers of bathroom humor and annoying laughs, there was a small scoop of smarts. Like the episode where Beavis and Butt-head watch a PBS-style documentary about Benjamin Franklin. Thinking electricity is "cool, heh-heh," they go outside to re-create the kite-and-lightning experiment.
The results, of course, are disastrous, and the boys end up in hospital beds besieged by tabloid press types, who put the blame on too many rock videos. The not-so-hidden message in a show often blamed for its bad examples? Even good TV can influence kids to do bad things.
Admittedly, these "make-you-think" episodes were few and far between. But the search for deeper meanings among the inane goings-on was justification for watching the other 97 percent of the time.
Last winter, though, I sat squirming in a darkened movie theater with my then-boyfriend and his younger brother watching the blockbuster movie, "Beavis & Butt-head Do America," one of maybe three females in a near sold-out crowd.
Not since my best friend dragged me into a porn shop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans had I felt so mortified in a public place. What was I doing here, tucked in a row between two greasy nerdlets wearing death-rock T-shirts and a gang of giggling frat boys trying to conceal a contraband joint? I mean, I'd always been more of the anti-Beavis Daria than a Butt-head groupie.
So even though I found myself laughing hysterically at one dumb pun after another (during a tour of the Hoover Dam, Beavis asks in his scratchy warble: "Is this a God dam?"), I had to wonder, "How much longer can this go on?"
Yes, even I have to concede there are only so many cracks about body parts and fluids that can be made before what little humor they contain wears thin. My "B&B" tolerance had been pushed to the limit.
So these days, I find my inspiration elsewhere, in the form of a crewcut-wearing, Texas-drawling Everyman named Hank Hill. Mike Judge, the animator and voice behind "B&B", has a new, Emmy-nominated cartoon series called "King of the Hill." It delivers on the sly intelligence hinted at in "B&B." And it still manages to be belly-aching funny.
So while the demise of "Beavis & Butt-head" has hit my inner child hard (she said "hard," heh-heh), there's a new "King" for my more grown-up tastes. Besides, there's always MTV's next "Beavis & Butt-head" Moron-athon. Not to mention the re-runs, cable specials and "Do America" sequel. Better yet, how about a home video collection? Can anyone say "boxed set," heh-heh?
Pub Date: 8/02/97