Beavis & Butt-head - A Product of It’s Time ?
Thoughts about the 2020 Beavis & Butt-head revival. Is it necessary in today’s time and age ?
To get an idea of where I’m going with this, first of all, I’ve been a HUGE fan of Beavis & Butt-head since I was way too young to watch the show. Ironically I must have been watching the reruns in 1997 since that’s when the show was canceled. There was also South Park, Celebrity Deathmatch, Cartoon Sushi, The Simpsons ( slowly losing it’s edge but I was being introduced to it, probably around 2001 or so ) , etc.
The 1990s era of Animation has been one of my strongest influences as an artist.
Not a lot of people get Beavis & Butt-head and don’t realize that it’s in fact a satire on Toxic Masculinity. The big question is, will that be the aims of satirist ( or ex-satirist ) Mike Judge depending on his own personal political ideology beliefs. That’s the key ingredient to satire and satirists, what is your politics, what is your political ideology.
Mike Judge might as well be the same as Trey Parker & Matt Stone of South Park.
But there’s something different about American satire vs satire in France, United Kingdown, Europe , etc.
Satire in Europe seems more left wing. Spitting Image / Les Guignols and Charlie Hebdo are known for it’s Leftist ( not Liberal ) leanings. I strongly feel that this is the best way to lampoon both liberals and conservatives equally. And when it comes to acceptable political satire working within the system, just presenting it as “ It’s not bias because every politician and person in power is lampooned equally. “ is what made these shows stay on the air and protected by their networks. However of course, Vincent Bolloré who bought Canal+ HATED Les Guignols De L’info and canceling the show immediately or slowly destroying it’s popularity allowing for a natural cancelation due to low ratings most likely could have been due to a favor
of his rich friend and long time satirical target of the show “ Nicolas Sarkozy “ who was often presented as narcissistic , fascistic, superficial, and destructive anger management problems to the point of destroying rooms as well as often laughed at by Jacques Chirac.
Spitting Image’s Bill Dare decided to in his words “Make the show more popular and funny above all else.” which made Spitting Image between Series 11 - 13 until it’s cancelation in 1996 just seem like a fast pace puppet show version of Saturday Night Live. But only time will tell if the upcoming Spitting Image revival this year on Britbox will be just as razor sharp as Les Guignols De L’info which in many ways went further than Spitting Image between the mid 1990s - 2000s until it’s cancelation in 2018. Although many feel that the show lost a lot of edge when it was reformatted until Vincent Bolloré’s wishes which included firing and replacing the writers as well as eventually the show runner.
Charlie Hebdo however is not a TV program but a publication. 5 Years ago , several of the longtime satirists were murdered. Still the Charlie Hebdo publication continued shortly after regardless. Charlie Hebdo is often seen as Leftist.
Private Eye Magazine who’s editor since 1986 Ian Hislop ( One of the original head satirists of Spitting Image until 1988 ) has mentioned that his political ideology is “ Liberal Democrat “. However as Spitting Image clearly showed, he didn’t mind mocking them either.
American satire is different. Democrat voting Liberals are often the most popular and often understood as “ The Left “ by the masses, even though leftists disagree. However when it comes to people in America who are neither a conservative or liberal, most often than not, they choose “ The Libertarian Party “. The Libertarian Party ( not to be confused with “ Libertarians “ which in Leftism means something completely different and Leftist like Libertarian Socialism aka Anarchism for example ) , those who support The Libertarian Party could be either socially liberal or socially conservative or be economically liberal or economically conservative, or like the other name “ Independent “ would choose which issues they are for and which ones they are against as if it was a personal choice. Those who support The Libertarian Party are just as patriotic / nationalistic , pro-capitalism and pro-government than liberals and conservatives.
But in my opinion, the best satire always came from the left. Everything has.
Like Bill Maher, he’s either a hit or miss. His anti-religion documentary “ Religulous “ is probably the best thing he’s ever done. Perhaps the same could be said regarding Mike Judge’s Idiocracy in which satire isn’t necessarily anti-capitalist however in many ways could be seen as a satire caricaturing a worst case senecio dystopia of how capitalism can destroy the human mind, society, and survival . South Park had many great satires which most of them were anti-establishment . Even Daria ( which was a Beavis & Butt-head spin off ) was pro-feminist with it’s head characters Daria and Jane Lane ( a Punk Androgynous Lesbian who’s secretly in the closet ) .
But like Daria, Beavis & Butt-head and South Park , the satirists were never afraid to lampoon the rise of 1990s social liberalism at the time which can be seen as progressive today.
But perhaps that’s where political ideologies and satirist clash with their ideas.
What is considered the left ? What is considered satirizing liberalism ? And is satirizing liberalism / progressivism / cancel culture and political correctness the same as satirizing the left ?
Satire has always been known as a misunderstood literary art just as much as Anarchism being a misunderstood political philosophy.
Because of the age of Trump, conservatism and liberalism might still exist and battle with a “ Culture War “ , however most people aren’t aware of the giant one that’s going on between Anarchists / Leftists / anyone who’s a minority vs Alt Right Fascism ( Who’s political ideology is right wing terrorism, hate, fear, bullying on and offline and murder. )
Conservatives are siding more with fascistic ideas like they always have through out history like the rise of the KKK for example. Even though Liberals & Progressives are protesting more currently due to the murder of an innocent black man by racist police which gave rise to Black Lives Matter direct action protests which many Anarchists / Leftists are joining in to help fight against the injustice.
Because of that, because of the COVID-19 / Coronavirus crisis which is still going on as well as the others,
A big question is “ Is Brand New Episodes of Beavis & Butt-head “ an appropriate answer to heal the masses funny bones during these tragic times ?
The popularity of Satire is questionable. Les Guignols De L’info was under threat of cancelation in 2015 but was canceled in 2018, Mad Magazine ended in 2019, Spitting Image’s return could be later this year on Britbox.
Mad Magazine has been one of the most strongest influencers to popular satire since the 1950s. William Gaines once mentioned that the magazine itself was liberal and later in the 1980s he mentioned that the magazine took no sides.
But as I mentioned earlier , a satirists’ political ideology is the key to the written satire.
Those who are neither Liberal or Conservative can be apolitical ( unlikely if they are a satirist ) , centrist , Libertarian Party / Independent ( usually the majority of American satirists in modern times next to Democrat voting Liberals ) , or LEFTISTS ( the least popular satirist who more than ever would not ever be given the opportunity to work within the system today ).
The caricatures of liberals seen in the original run of Beavis & Butt-head as well as Daria are tame compared to South Park.
As Trey Parker & Matt Stone once expressed “We hate Conservatives but WE REALLY HATE LIBERALS ! “
This brings me back to the following questions,
What is considered the left ? What is considered satirizing liberalism ? And is satirizing liberalism / progressivism / cancel culture and political correctness the same as satirizing the left ?
Most people, especially Americans are NOT aware of class conscious and leftism.
If anything, leftism is often discriminated , misunderstood and stereotyped.
You probably heard many of these yourself.
The ideas of all Communism is totalitarian and often compared to current Countries like Russia and China instead of separating what true Left Communism is like The Black Panther Party stood for.
Or even the idea that Socialism means ending up like a third world country which not only is prejudice and xenophobic but also ignoring what socialism really is.
Anarchists are often viewed from the actions of “ Insurrectionary Anarchists “ and whenever ANTIFA confronts a dangerous Alt-Right / Fascist propaganda rally out of defense against Hate, Speech and Violence, ANTIFA is immediately demonized and humiliated just like what Trevor Noah did on The Daily Show.
Gay Marriage has legalized in 2015 and there’s more awareness about Transgender / Non-Binary people than ever before, and as a Transgender Lesbian Woman I am very grateful for this awareness.
However, did any of this as well as Rainbow Capitalism stop prejudice hate and fear against LGBTQ+ people ? No.
Likewise, if Liberals wanted fast food restaurants to have papercups and paperbags say “ Black Lives Matter “ , promote the idea that it’s racist for anyone who’s white to perform the voice of a Black character or even a Celebrity who happens to be Black even if it was done in a respectful NON-RACIST manner - it’s considered cancel culture , and does any of those things really and truly stop racism ? NO ! The problem is capitalism. It’s class struggle.
But as I read somewhere, Black Leftists are often ignored and not taken as seriously as Black Liberals.
Liberals ARE NOT LEFTISTS !
South Park today is NOT the same South Park it was back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the show was good in my opinion. But still, it was attracting conservative viewership to the point where books like “ South Park Conservatives “ were being written.
And in recent times, because the current South Park’s targets are mostly “ ANTI-Political Correctness “ , it’s gaining popularity with the Alt-Right.
The very show that can be irreverent but at the same time show empathy, sympathy and awareness such as the Ms Garrison Pro-Transgender episodes are long forgotten and instead we have Politically Correct Liberal Progressives with a Toxic Masculine caricature.
One being a bearded muscular wrestler character who beats women and claims to be a Post-Op Transgender Woman on HRT ( from what I’ve heard ) .
Liberalism is not Leftists, but Leftists do Left Wing politics BETTER because we are class conscious ! Hierarchical Power over others is the problem.
With Mike Judge’s past failure such as the all anti-liberal “ Goodie Family “ which goes further than Mr. Van Driessen on Beavis & Butt-head , as well as how King Of The Kill could be seen as Pro-Conservative, The big question is… why is this the most important political issue to satirize ?
Spitting Image came out against the fascistic / neoliberalism of far right wing politicians Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan .
Many people were becoming unemployed, the homeless population was increasing , and even though I wasn’t around or even in the same country as Spitting Image’s popularity in the 1980s , like Les Guignols De L’info , it’s not like it’s just an adult comedy puppet show with fictional characters. Both were Topical political satire shows and way more razor sharp than Saturday Night Live.
So if the reason for going after liberals is simply because
“ The world is becoming way too politically correct and over sensitive over nothing. All this social justice warriors and cancel culture. All I see is a bunch of adults acting like babies. GROW UP ! LIFE ISN’T FAIR ! Not everyone is going to respect your identity ! Why don’t you get up off your ass, work your way out of debt to economic security, settle down with someone who generally likes and is attracted to you and JUST TAKE SOME F**KING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY INSTEAD OF BOTHERING EVERYONE ! YOUR AN ADULT NOW, ONLY YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU, NO ONE ELSE ! LIBERALS, WAKE THE F**K UP ! “
Then, how can this possibly be satire ? Satire has always been a left wing tradition.
This sounds like siding with the enemy known as Authoritarianism to me.
I can go on about how South Park and everyone else failed at attacking liberalism like the South Park episode “ Die Hippie Die “ where neo-hippies are stereotyped as drug addict liberals. The 1960s was in fact a very spiritual times. Not only was New Thought / New Age Spirituality a great alternative from the religious right but there was a giant Anti-Authoritarian Counter-Culture. Also leftists such as Abbie Hoffman & Jerry Rubin of The Yippies ( The Youth International Party - which was Anarchist by the way since there was no Political Party but a Political Philosophy, Hilarious Satirical Prank Guerrilla Theater Protests and Activist Movements. ) , Bobby Seale & Angela Davis of The Black Panther Party and yes even John Lennon himself.
And let’s not forget the many other inspirational civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr as well as Noam Chomsky who was promoting Anarchism in Intellectual Debates.
So what made Beavis & Butt-head so great in the first place ?
It was a satire on Toxic Masculinity since it’s first animated short “ Frog Baseball “ was shown at the Spike & Mike Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation.
Before the internet, this was the hotspot for independent underground cartoon animators and their short films.
The reason why pop culture was great in the first place, was that it USED to have somewhat decent executive producers who welcomed creative freedom and creator control over their shows. Even though the conglomerate would own the copyright and trademark over the show, dictate if the show was over, the less show notes the better of course ;) , but some show creators were also rewarding with a certain percentage over the merchandise.
If you were going to work within the system, you would need to be referred or discovered.
And if you have a sense of Ego, such narcissism will come back and haunt you.
The documentary “ Happy Happy Joy Joy : The Ren & Stimpy Story “ can be served as a great example.
There were good somewhat liberal executives which made the artists who worked within the system’s dream come true.
But today, if you were a satirist who was left leaning, most likely then not, you wouldn’t make it passed an executive’s interest.
It’s all about fighting for creative control.
But keep in mind, this was before YouTube and Crowdfunding.
In the case of Beavis & Butt-head, Mike Judge had creative freedom and the people who worked on it had a good time. That’s the best way a show can be done.
As I said before, Beavis & Butt-head was a satire on Toxic Masculinity.
It started out as a general satirical observation and caricature of Juvenile Delinquency with a very skeptical / cynical view rather than relating it to class struggle.
The morals and ethics of the satire which is Beavis & Butt-head is a simple one.
“ Don’t become like Beavis & Butt-head. Don’t let the future generations of teenage boys end up like Beavis & Butt-head. “
Beavis & Butt-head in the first few seasons were much more darker satirical caricatures then what they ended up becoming. Originally they were violent , bullies, extremely destructive, drug experimenters, and anti-social.
Beavis & Butt-head of course ended up becoming ignorant comedy duos who laughed at any innuendo that came to mind.
Beavis would be a character with a love of gross toilet humor which I’ve always appreciated about the show. But as highlighted in the “ It’s a Wonderful Life “ parody , the show revealed a heart which wasn’t just another “ Oh there’s ol’ Gullible Mr. Van Driessen , that liberal / progressive hippie who always thinks positive about humanity even though he always gets physically hurt somehow “ gag ( Which of course, I thought he was a lovable positive character on the show even if he was just seen as an anti-liberal / anti-left wing caricature. ) .
Beavis WAS different than Butt-head.
In the episode, it revealed that Beavis was in truth the vulnerable outcast who could succeed without Butt-head ( who was pretty much a self-centered and narcissistic ) .
The Miracle of Beavis highlighted this a little bit too.
If Beavis was friends with Stuart, he would be more like Stuart and help the homeless in the soup kitchen.
This was the truth about Beavis.
The “ It’s a Wonderful Life “ parody episode revealed that it was BUTT-HEAD who was the real villain, not Beavis.
This was the hidden heart of the show. The empathy and sympathy which we should have for Beavis.
But of course out of the two, Beavis is probably the favorite out of the two as Stimpy would be of Ren & Stimpy.
This is one of the important elements of satire, empathy / sympathy as it is with life.
When the show ended with the final season after the movie, and of course the episode “Beavis & Butt-head are Dead “ ,
it does feel like a satisfying closer to the show.
Fans are always excited to see Beavis & Butt-head make a surprise appearance which they often did through the years.
Even in 3D right before the Jackass 3D Movie ( which was the only reason why I went to see it . )
One of the other great things about Beavis & Butt-head that was most memorable was the anti-establishment satirical commentaries on the music videos.
The earlier seasons didn’t have it as much but the mid - later seasons was just as funny as Mystery Science Theater 3000.
It was a different side to the characters, they were now the voices of the frustrated viewer of crass media as MST3K was.
This is another favorite part of the show that I enjoy.
The show was revived for MTV2 in 2011,
There was some interesting moments like an episode “ Crying “ which looks like it was inspired by a specific Mad Magazine parody where Butt-head dies and Beavis has no sympathy for, which elderly caricatures were very similar to the Mad Magazine ones.
But it still didn’t have the satirical charm the original one did.
One of the things that is often said is that the youth are left leaning while the middle age are more right leaning, even middle aged liberals are more for civility instead of liberating direct action protests.
Perhaps the same could be said with satirists or any creative talent that worked within the system if wealthy or just having a longtime freelance career with many fans who enjoy the labor they created as a worker.
Anger and Dissatisfaction is the spirit of the liberating soul.
It’s what gave us music like Rock & Roll which could be used to promote the sexual revolution or protest the Vietnam War despite authoritarians calling it “ The Devil’s Music “.
But with most people, famous or not, there’s a false sense of “Growing Up”.
I don’t think someone changing in life has to do with age, but in teenhood there are many outcasts who just want to fit in.
Despite the subject of the store “ Hot Topic “ itself ( when it was mainly a Punk / Goth / Ego subculture clothes store ) , you had people who could deeply identify with it creatively or those who just wanted to be cool aka poser.
It’s no wonder that many of the greatest and influential people were their most influential when they were younger rather when they were older.
David Zucker & Mel Brooks were hilariously brilliant during their heyday but now complain about political correctness and side slightly right politically. David Zucker became conservative in 2001 and the ZAZ movies weren’t as funny as their early classics.
Terry Gilliam was the American born member of Monty Python and best known for his cut-out animation which not only inspired South Park but the standard in digital animation software today. Today, he complains about Transgender Woman.
Matt Groening’s Life In Hell, Futurama and Classic Simpsons is one of the greatest satires and adult animation comedy shows in history. Today The Simpsons ( Zombie Simpsons / Jerk-Ass Humor ) is hated by most fans because the show has gone downhill since Season 9 onwards. Currently there was stories about a babysitter who called him out as being racist as well as Matt himself getting a foot massage from a teenage prostitute on Jeffrey Epstein plane.
And John Kricfalusi…. Ok, perhaps this is getting dark…
Anyway, when a White CisHet Man succeeds in capitalism regardless if they have creative talent or not, they will be treated in a respectful way unlike minorities and female bodied women in general.
They are promoted every day by the capitalist ruling class hierarchical system as normal and superior.
So of course they feel like they have a choice politically.
This alone separates the White CisHet Man who has a house, wife and kids as well as Middle Class Income to support it all from the youth in poverty, low income, struggling with unemployment and college debt.
It’s class struggle.
If Beavis & Butt-head were non-fictional, their life story would be more sad than amusing.
They could support Trump and be vulnerable enough to fall into the Alt-Right Fascism.
There’s struggle with men who suffer in Toxic Masculinity which their tough ego will defend himself from being reminded of vulnerable feelings they desperately need to face and accept positively.
The idea that Juvenile Delinquency and Toxic Masculinity is due to a DNA / Neurology / IQ problem rather than a class problem, IS A PART THE PROBLEM !
It’s so easily to hate those who are hateful. It’s so easy to demonize criminals ant anti-social crime. It’s even understandable to dislike those who have hurt you and did you wrong.
But as an Anarchist, I know that it’s very important for the masses to understand that hierarchical power is the root cause of political problems.
Even though Beavis & Butt-head has painted the Anarchist symbol on Mr. Anderson’s house or even made the lawn into making the Anarchist symbol, Anarchy does not mean chaos. Hierarchy is chaos.
Beavis & Butt-head was originally meant to be a satire on Toxic Masculinity.
But now they are just seen as a comedy duo because they are perceived as being not very smart, still acting anti-social but comes more from ignorance and impulsiveness and perhaps a love of destruction for it’s own sake.
Beavis & Butt-head will always be important in the history of pop culture and animation / television satire.
But in a time and age of knowledge on the internet, youth becoming smarter , less tolerant of prejudice, some even being open minded to Spirituality and Anarchism ,
is New Beavis & Butt-head from Mike Judge and Viacom something this world needs right now ?
Especially news coming in that Beavis & Butt-head will now be fathers ?
It sounds like a fan-fiction joke than a brilliant idea.
I don’t expect the revival to be as good as the original.
Like usual, it’s just a way to keep up Mike Judge’s income if the merchandise isn’t selling.
I would rather see a complete DVD box set or something for their 25th anniversary.
Something that would be even better than the fan collective “ King Turd Collection “ .
In my opinion, that’s the best way to celebrate Beavis & Butt-head’s legacy.
Not a crass revival.
The 2011 revival was exciting at the time, but as I look back in it, it’s not as good as the original.
I honestly think that NEW Beavis & Butt-head episodes would fail more than the 2011 revival.
Perhaps occasional TV specials or another Halloween Special or Christmas Special would be much better. Or even another animated movie.
The focus really should be on the characters, not attacking liberalism from a conservative / right wing Libertarian perspective which is exactly what happened to South Park.
Could the anger be that those who made stuff in the 1990s feel like they failed the Millennials ?
Still, Beavis & Butt-head are loved by their fans but are more limited than ever in today’s world.
It’s not the fault of society. Beavis & Butt-head are just outdated caricatures.
Like Idiocracy , it’s a great piece of satirical film history but the idea of IQ / DNA / Neurology being the problem of societal collapse instead of Capitalism sides more with Authoritarianism and not as liberating as a leftist satire could answer the same question through satire.
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