BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD creator Mike Judge remembers watching
Looney Toons as a kid.
"There was a show in Albuquerque called Captain Billy,"
Judge recalls. "He was a local guy and he'd show cartoons
and you'd go there for your birthday and he got shot because he
was fooling around with someone else's wife. I remember my mom
trying to explain it to me. I was asking her, 'Why did he get
shot?' And she goes, 'Maybe he was just hugging her to say, "good
job," and someone walked in and saw it and shot him.' "
Given this childhood trauma, it's no wonder this clean-cut 33-year-old
grew up to create two of the most twisted and subversive characters
in the history of animation, Beavis and Butthead, whose moronic
escapades hit the big screen Friday, December 20.
Beavis and Butthead Do America takes the dimwitted duo
on a cross-country destructive spree with the ATF in hot pursuit.
I could explain how and why, but who really gives a crap? This
is Beavis and Butthead we're talking about, so all that plot stuff
doesn't really matter. Rest assured, the movie has enough idiotic
moments to please any Beavis and Butthead fan--but then,
Beavis and Butthead fans have pretty low standards.
The series' success has amazed even Judge, a former engineer
who was strumming a bass in a bar band in Dallas when he began
trying his hand at animation. Somewhere along the line, two little
fartknockers took shape in his imagination.
"It started out as a two-minute short I did, Frog Baseball,
and when I finished that, I thought people would like it,"
says Judge, who sent the cartoon to MTV's Liquid Television.
Three weeks later, MTV VP Abby Terkuhule told Judge he wanted
to see more of these bungholes.
"I remember Abby saying, 'We've got to air this. That's
really our audience,' " Judge says.
In 1992, Beavis and Butthead premiered on MTV, almost
immediately becoming a megahit.
"That blew me away--it was a dream come true just to get
something on Liquid Television," Judge says with a
laugh. "Y'know, I was just working out of my house in Dallas.
Everything surprised me. I never would have predicted the cover
of Rolling Stone and that kind of thing."
The show allows Judge to satirize the very medium which has
made him rich and famous--music video.
"These bands in these videos take themselves so seriously--they're
up there in all their majesty doing this thing and the reality
is, their audience is 15-year-olds with braces," says Judge,
whose greatest contribution to the history of animation may be
Beavis' high-blood-sugared, TP-seeking alter-ego, Cornholio. If
you've seen the classic "The Great Cornholio," you know
what he needs the TP for.
"I wanted to do something with what would happen to Beavis
if Butthead's just not around--without Butthead to reel him in,
he would just get further and further off the deep end,"
Judge says. "Then I was lying asleep one night and it just
hit me like a ton of bricks that Beavis just pulls his T-shirt
over his head and gets all wound up and starts babbling.
"I think I did it a couple of times when I was a kid,"
Judge slowly confesses. "When I was a kid, I used to...kinda
to annoy my brother and sister...I used to...this is really weird...I
used to follow my sister around talking in this weird foreign
accent. You know, Albuquerque, middle of the summer, nothing to
Judge found a full-length motion picture posed greater challenges
than the normal 15-minute 'toon.
"It's kind of tricky for Beavis and Butthead, because they're
really dumb, and when you're writing, you're going, well, they're
in the trunk, they can't exactly pick the lock," says Judge,
sharing a bit of insight into his creative process. "Well,
there's a jack in the trunk...jack...there's a jack-off joke in
So does the jump to big screen mean the buttmunch boys are getting
too big for the tube?
"I think they're too big for TV and I don't want to do TV
anymore," Judge admits. "I still have one season on
my contract. I'd like to stop doing the show for awhile and take
a break from it."
Although he imagines he'll make another B&B movie
or specials for MTV, Judge has already begun work on a new animated
series, King of the Hill, which debuts on the Fox network
"It's quite a bit different from Beavis and Butthead,"
Judge says. "The closest thing to it in Beavis and Butthead
is Tom Anderson, the old guy. It's kind of like a bunch of bubba
types in Texas."
Judge doesn't put much stock in critics who gripe that Beavis
and Butthead are harbingers of the decline of American civilization.
"I think there are lot of symbols of decline other than
this," Judge says. "Before it was even on the air, Connie
Chung did something about how bad TV has gotten, and she said,
'MTV has gone so far as to name one of its new shows Beavis
and Butthead.' Of course, she's married to Maury Povich.
"Talk about decline," Judge adds, slipping into Butthead's
voice. "When she was fired, I said, 'That's cool.' "