Beavis and Butt-Head, the Voice of a Generation: Rolling Stone's 1993 Cover Story

Huh-huh, huh-huh. MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head on what's cool and what sucks

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The stupid and ugly have one advantage in life: Teachers expect nothing from them, so they can fly under the usual indoctrination that accompanies education. Thus the stupid and ugly — if they aren't entirely stupid — have a greater chance of being original They are allowed to speak the truth because no one cares what they say. Because they are stupid, they are free. The major disadvantage, among many, is that uneducated behavior is often just rotten.

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Beavis and Butt-Head, two thunderously stupid and excruciatingly ugly pubescent males who live somewhere in the Southwest, do rotten stuff all the time. They are cruel to animals. They vandalize their neighbors. They torture their teachers. Their libidos rage unchecked, except by the uniform unwillingness of the female sex to associate with them. And they are the biggest phenomenon on MTV since the heyday of Michael Jackson. Where a normal video draws a 6 rating, Beavis and Butt-Head draw up to a 2.4. Kids are memorizing their dialogue and throwing Beavis and Butt-Head parties. Their laugh — low and breathy variations on "huh-huh" — has superseded Wayne and Garth's "Not!" as the comic catch phrase of the moment. An album and a movie are in the works, and their merchandising campaign is sweeping the malls. Yes, Beavis and Butt-Head are America's Inner Teenager. Because they are free, we will make them rich.

This article appeared in the August 19, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

Every weeknight at 7:00 and 11:00, they set out on their mundane, sordid adventures, usually inspired by a commercial or soap opera plot that no non-stupid person could take seriously. Simultaneously they have become the most acute commentators on TV. For half of their 30-minute show, they sit on the couch and tell the truth about music video. They are the complete viewer service, right down to channel surfing for you. Butt-Head's philosophy of aesthetics goes thusly: "I like stuff that's cool" and "I don't like stuff that sucks." For Beavis, it's even simpler: He agrees with Butt-Head. What's cool is explosions, loud guitars, screaming and death. Who are cool include the Butthole Surfers, Corrosion of Conformity, Metallica and babes. What sucks is everything else. And they say so, suggesting that aging purveyors of pop metal like the Scorpions join the Hair Club for Men and that Edie Brickell, when bent over and straining at her deadly serious lyrics, looks like she's "pinching a loaf."

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That Zen perfection — stuff that's cool being good and stuff that sucks being bad — has caused an earthquake in critical circles. Kurt Andersen, in Time, says Beavis and Butt-Head "may be the bravest show ever run on national television." And Chris Morris, in the L.A. Reader, sees them as the wonder drug to dissolve the great clot of semiotic theory clogging contemporary rock criticism, as capturing the true essence of rock: "volume, abandon, radicalism." Seeking even deeper wisdom, we caught Beavis and Butt-Head on their couch for their first in-depth interview. Because they're going to be rich, we must study them. Series creator Mike Judge and writer David Felton joined in for interpretive purposes.

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You're selling more posters than Jurassic Park. You're getting all-time high ratings on MTV. What does your success say about the current culture of American teenagers?
Butt-Head: Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Beavis: He said "suck." Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. Uh ... could you repeat the question?

What I'm getting at is, there's a whole new group of kids in junior high now, and your success
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. He said it again.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh, huh-huh.

Let me put it another way. Just this morning I watched a psychologist on TV talk about the horrible effect that heavy metal has on kids. Do you ever consider the influence you're having on today's youth?
Butt-Head: Uh ... uh ... well, I like to burn stuff, but that doesn't mean —
Beavis: I like it when stuff blows up and knocks people over. Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: [Smacks Beavis on the head] Shut up, Beavis. I was saying something. Huh-huh. Uh . . . what was I saying?

Your influence on today's youth.
Butt-Head: What's today?

Tuesday.
Butt-Head: Oh, yeah. What was I saying?

Your effect on young people. You said you like to bum stuff.
Butt-Head: Whoa! You must have one of those pornographic memories! Huh-huh. Uh ... I like to burn stuff, but that doesn't mean you have to. Huh-huh, huh-huh. It would be cool if you did, though.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh. Fire! Fire! Fire!

So what's the coolest thing you've ever burned?
Butt-Head: Uh ... Beavis's eyebrows. Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Huh-huh. It smelled cool, too.

Why was that so cool?
Butt-Head: It was, like, unexpectant? We were torching a June bug with a can of Lysol and a lighter, and it ended up burning Beavis's face. Huh-huh, huh-huh. It was like a bonus.
Beavis: Huh-huh. I burned my bonus.

Well, let me ask you this: Do you guys find anything funny that isn't scatological?
Butt-Head: Uh... sure. Lots of stuff. Like, uh, butts are funny.

Anything besides butts?
Beavis: Farts are funny. Because they come out of your butt. Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Did you know any time anyone is born, they come out right next to a butt? Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. Even the president of the United States.

So what's your point?
Butt-Head: Well, uh ... that's pretty cool. Huh-huh, huh-huh.

What do you think of the disclaimer MTV sometimes runs before your show?
Butt-Head: It's cool.

Do you know what I'm talking about?
Butt-Head: Uh ... no. Huh-huh.

Those words MTV runs before, the show warning people about you.
Beavis: Words suck.
Butt-Head: Yeah. If I wanted to read, I'd go to school.
Beavis: So, like, what do they say?

They say you're crude, self-destructive and anti-social, but for some reason you make them laugh.
Butt-Head: Cool! Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. MTV's cool.

Even though the censors in their standards department won't let you say certain words?
Butt-Head: Yeah. MTV's cool — for a bunch of wussies. Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Beavis: We can say "ass wipe."
Butt-Head: Not very often.
Beavis: We can say "asshole."
Butt-Head: No, we can't, Beavis.
Beavis: Are you calling me a liar?
Butt-Head: No, I'm calling you a waste of bum wipe.
Beavis: We can say "butthole." Butthole! Butthole! Butthole!
Butt-Head: Shut up! MTV will fire you!
Beavis: Fire! Fire! Fire!
Butt-Head: Settle down, Beavis!

You seem to watch a lot of TV. Do you think television depicts an accurate view of the world?
Butt-Head: Uh ... like, are you really with the Rolling Stones?

I'm with "Rolling Stone," the magazine.
Butt-Head: So, uh, do you get lots of chicks?
Beavis: Hey, Butt-Head, when chicks find out we know someone with the Stones, we'll get some helmet. Huh-huh, huh-huh.

I'm with the magazine "Rolling Stone." I'm a writer, not a musician.
Beavis: Wuss.

Butt-Head: So you don't get any chicks?

Not like Mick jagger.
Beavis: Mick Jaggers not a chick.
Butt-Head: He didn't say he was a chick, Beavis. He said he doesn't get chicks.
Beavis: He said he doesn't get chicks like Mick Jagger.
Butt-Head: That's right. Not like Mick Jagger.
Beavis: But Mick Jagger's not a chick.
Butt-Head: Don't make me kick your ass again, Beavis.
Beavis: You know who looks like a chick? Huh-huh. Vince Neil.
Butt-Head: Yeah. Huh-huh. And Dave Mus-taine.
Beavis: Yeah. That's why he wears glasses. So he doesn't look too much like a girl. Huh-huh, huh-huh.

What do glasses have to do with masculinity?
Butt-Head: You know what you should do to, like, get chicks? Since you're a wuss? Huh-huh, huh-huh.

What?
Butt-Head: You should get some binoculars and stand outside this apartment building we know and look in the windows. Huh-huh.

How would that help me get chicks?
Butt-Head: Sometimes you can see 'em naked. Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh. Or you could go to Bible camp and hug chicks when they find Jesus.
Butt-Head: That would be cool. Huh-huh. "Give us this day our morning wood." Huh-huh, huh-huh.

What kind of music do you like
Butt-Head: Uh ... uh ... all different kinds.
Beavis: Yeah. Like loud music.
Butt-Head: Yeah. And music that rocks! Huh-huh.
Beavis: Music that kicks ass! Huh-huh. And fire music! Fire! Fire!

What's fire music?
Beavis: Oh, sorry, I was thinking about videos.
Butt-Head: I also like music that's about stuff. Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. Like that rap song about that guy who likes big butts.
Butt-Head: Yeah. That one speaks to me. Huh-huh, huh-huh.

The rumor is, you guys have the same father.
Butt-Head: Uh . . . we're not sure. It's possible.Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh. He used to come around a lot.

Are the two of you friends with anyone besides each other
Beavis: We're not friends.
Butt-Head: Beavis has a special friend. Huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Sometimes he shakes hands with Little Beavis.
Beavis: Yeah. [Pathetic attempt at Pakistani accent] "Hello, Meester Monkey." Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. That was cool.

Well, you two sound pretty friendly.
Butt-Head: We just do lots of stuff together. Huh-huh.
Beavis: Just cool stuff.
Butt-Head: Yeah. I like stuff that's cool.

Well, there must be a lot of cool stuff to do, because as far as I can tell, you two spend every moment of your life together.
Butt-Head: That's 'cause Beavis follows me around.
Beavis: You follow me around.
Butt-Head: Only when I'm gonna kick your ass.
Beavis: When you're gonna lick my ass?
Butt-Head: Shut up, booger wipe!
Beavis: Pecker-wood!

Hey, break it up! Butt-Head, I have a question for you. I noticed that you often say, "I like stuff that's cool." But isn't that circular logic? I mean, what is the definition of "cool "other than an adjective denoting something the speaker likes?
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. Uh, did you, like, go to college?

You don't have to go to college to know the definition of "redundant." What I'm saying is that essentially what you're saying is "I like stuff that I like."
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh. Me, too.
Butt-Head: Also, I don't like stuff that sucks, either.

But nobody likes stuff that sucks!
Butt-Head: Then why does so much stuff suck?
Beavis: Yeah. College boy! Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh, huh-huh. Uh, I have a question for you.

Go ahead.
Butt-Head: Pull my finger.

That's not a question.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. Uh ... would you please pull my finger?

Oh, all right.
[Butt-Head farts loudly.]
Butt-Head: Huh-huh, huh-huh. That's cool.
Beavis: I taught him that joke. Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: I taught you that joke, bunghole!
Beavis: But I taught you the part about where you fart.
Butt-Head: Oh, right, you did. Huh-huh, huh-huh. That's my favorite part.

I just have a couple more things I'd like to cover.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. He said "things."
Beavis: He said "couple." Huh-huh, huh-huh.

When I was your age, the big event that formed the values of my entire generation was the Vietnam War.
Butt-Head: Yeah. Huh-huh. Rambo was cool!

So I was wondering if there was some similar experience, some unifying event, that has affected your life.
Butt-Head: Uh... well, once we bought this bull-whip at Stuckey's? And we went around looking for stuff to whip. But like we couldn't find anything. No frogs or lizards or nothing.
Beavis: We tried a bag of charcoal, but it wasn't alive.
Butt-Head: Then we found this big old grasshopper in the middle of the road. It was really big. It was like a freak grasshopper. Huh-huh. We whipped it and whipped it.
Beavis: Yeah, yeah. And then I kicked it Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: We slapped it around like a redheaded stepchild. Huh-huh, huh-huh. And then it looked like it was dead 'cause it hadn't moved in like an hour? And then all of a sudden these little white worms started crawling out of its butt, one by one. Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Beavis: Yeah. They looked like long-grain rice. It's like they were trapped inside this grasshopper, and we came along and set'em free.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. Uh . .. they crawled out of its butt!

You're comparing the Vietnam War to worms crawling out of a grasshopper's butt? How could that affect your life?
Butt-Head: Well, uh ... if that hadn't happened, we would have had to, like, do something else.

Well, I suppose it's pointless to ask this, but —
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. You said "butt."

What advice do you have for America's youth?
Beavis: Uh . . . sometimes at the arcade? If you rub your feet on the ground and touch the coin slot, it makes a spark and you get a free game. Huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Huh-huh. Uh ... I got one. Like if you go to school and, like, study and stuff? And grow up and get a job at a company and, like, get promoted? You have to go there and do stuff that sucks for the rest of your life.
eavis: Yeah. You'll be trapped, just like those worms in that grasshopper's butt. Huh-huh, huh-huh. And then people will whip you, and you'll come crawling out and —
Butt-Head: Shut up, Beavis! Huh-huh. But what I was saying is, if you act like us and just do stuff that's cool? Like sit around and watch TV and burn stuff?
Beavis: And choke your chicken. Huh-huh-huh.
Butt-Head: Yeah. Huh-huh. And choke your chicken. Then, Rolling Stone magazine will come and kiss your butt!

Huh-huh. You said "come."
Beavis: Yeah. Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Beavis AND Butt-Head: Huh-huh, huh-huh. Huh-huh, huh-huh. Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Huh-huh, huh-huh.
Butt-Head: That was cool!

From The Archives Issue 663: August 19, 1993