After months of rumors, MTV this week confirmed that it is reviving the popular 1990s cartoon Beavis and Butt-Head this summer. The half-hour comedy, created by Office Space director Mike Judge, featured two heavy-metal-loving, dim-witted high school losers who critiqued popular culture as they traded quips about music videos and girls, and just generally slacked off. The series, which ran from 1993 to 1997, spawned a feature film and a brand of irreverent comedy that still thrives today. But have times changed too much for Beavis and Butt-Head to catch on in 2011? (Watch a CBS report about the duo's return)
Time might have left Beavis and Butt-Head behind: "This worries me," says James Poniewozik in Time. The cartoon's "sarcastic, dismissive attitude" perfectly illustrated and lampooned the culture's decline in the '90s, simultaneously deriding "MTV and the soft, underchallenged audience watching it." But the boys might be too negative for today's kids, who laugh "with Pauly and The Situation" as much as at them. If so, the updated B&B might come off as "a show for old people."
"The dream of the '90s is alive: Beavis and Butt-Head returning to MTV"
Actually, the internet generation might relate to these slackers: The animated duo's "listless, juvenile nihilism" might seem "quaint in today's era of millennial strivers," says Nina Shen Rastogi in Slate. But you could argue that "these two semiliterate losers are the spiritual godfathers of internet culture." Today's audiences might be drawn to "the way they loaf around consuming scraps of entertainment, passing poorly formed but passionately held judgment on all that passes through their field of vision."
"Hey Fartknocker, welcome to the new millennium"
They are great poster boys for the new MTV: The network has dropped its aspirational approach and the "sunny, happy slate of programming that included Made, The Hills (you too can be a magazine intern!), and career-centered seasons of The Real World." Beavis and Butt-Head's habit of lounging "on a grubby couch, mocking everything they watched," says Daniel D'Addario at the New York Observer, makes them the perfect mouthpieces for MTV's new message: Don't let your aspirations cut into your TV watching.
"Where have you gone, Lauren Conrad? The return of Beavis and Butt-Head means crass is in session"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- This is how the U.S. thinks China could invade Taiwan
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Can we lead spiritually fulfilling lives without religion?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Surviving a plane crash
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year
Subscribe to the Week