The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

You're full of good ideas today, Beavis

Some people find it surprising that I like Beavis and Butt-head as much as I do, especially since I don't like South Park. (It was hard being in college in the late nineties and not liking South Park.) But the jokes are really funny, and the commentary on the videos is sometimes insightful:

Beavis [screams]: Aaaah! Her back's bent out of shape!
Butt-head: Dammit, Beavis. Don't you know that when a chick's back is bent like that it means she's hot?
Beavis: I dunno, Butt-head. I think she's injured.

Character is handled well in this show. Beavis and Butt-head are both extremely stupid, but in different ways. Butt-head is simply a low-functioning psychopath, but Beavis, who is capable of human feelings like compassion, seems to have some kind of psychotic disorder: he experiences fugue states in which he manifests other personalities, he suffers from headaches, blurred vision, and seizures, and he believes among other things that he has been abducted by aliens (whom he confuses with Mexicans; it took me a while to get that joke). He needs to be taken care of, but the only person willing to take care of him in any way is Butt-head, who is cruel to him but at least acknowledges that he exists:

Butt-head [during a video]: Hey Beavis, that guy says he hears dark voices in his head.
Beavis: Oh really? I hear voices too, but it's like, usually they're white guys. Sometimes it's, like, you know, a Chinese dude too, that talks to me. And a couple of Mexicans.

Beavis and Butt-head is powered, narratively, by the idiocy of the title characters, and by the ignorance that causes them to try to invent everything from first principles, but it is also driven by character. There are moments of poignancy in which it becomes clear that Beavis might have had a shot if he had ever had even one responsible, caring person in his life; but of course he doesn't, and we know he never will. He has only his absentee father, his abusive mother, his clueless teachers, and Butt-head, the psychopath. It's amazing that he's not dead already. I'd say something about how the boys' lives are structured by mechanisms that they're too stupid (and in Beavis's case insane) to understand, like the rule that says they have to go to school and the rule that says chicks with their backs bent in a certain way are hot, and how the show is generally about their efforts to exist and function in this world that is almost completely meaningless to them, and how that's kind of Kafkaesque, but I had therapy today and I'm too tired. Anyway, mostly I just think it's well-written and funny. At one point Beavis and Butt-head watch the video for the Smashing Pumpkins video "Today":

Butt-head: He thinks it's the greatest day because he, like, stole an ice cream truck.
Tags: beavis, copy-editing, myhorrifyingadolescence, stix
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