Video Article

Inherit the Mirth

We look at how Beavis and Butt-head compare to other famous partners like Thelma and Louise and George Bush and Dan Quayle

To hall monitors of all ages, Beavis and Butt-head represent the New Vulgarity at its incomprehensible worst. But they do have antecedents. As their film debut shows, Messrs. Beavis and Butt-head have been influenced by a postmodern panoply of couples that range across the spectrum of 20th-century pop culture.

The Katzenjammer Kids' Hans and Fritz: Resolutely malevolent lower-class imps play pranks on Der Captain, get spanked. Comic strip's drawing style sets new standard for medium. Beavis and Butt-head: Resolutely moronic lower-class imps play pranks on hippie teacher, spank selves. Cartoon's drawing sets new low for medium.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney: Ironic lad and his more innocent partner help world see pop music as serious artistic medium via compositions like ''She Said She Said.'' Beavis and Butt-head: Ironic lad and his more innocent partner help world see music videos as incredibly pompous medium via comments like ''She said 'Ass...' Huh-huh-huh.''

Star Wars' R2-D2 and C-3PO: Socially outgoing Threepio serves as foil for partner who speaks largely in untranslatable clicks; both would cease to exist without their computer programs. Beavis and Butt-head: Socially outgoing Butt-head serves as foil for partner who speaks largely in untranslatable snickers; both would cease to exist without their TV programs.

George Bush and Dan Quayle: Occasionally articulate generational figurehead teams up with comrade from heartland who can't spell potato and is unafraid to be corny in the White House. Beavis and Butt-head: Occasionally articulate generational figurehead teams up with comrade from heartland who can't spell his name and is unafraid to be Cornholio in the White House.

The title characters of Thelma & Louise: Headstrong Louise (Susan Sarandon) takes ditsy Thelma (Geena Davis) on cross-country trek for self-respect; cop Harvey Keitel hankers to probe their motives. Beavis and Butt-head: Headstrong Butt-head takes ditsy Beavis on cross-country trek for nookie; cop Robert Stack hankers to probe their body cavities.

Originally posted May 13, 2008 Published in issue #384 Jun 20, 1997 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners