It’s been a rough couple of years for metal. Postponed tours, cancelled festivals and a general air of pandemic- related anxiety. Luckily, 2022 is offering a few glimmers of hope – not least in the shape of the return of Beavis And Butt-Head.
Beavis And Butt-Head creator Mike Judge recently revealed that the iconic animated duo will make their comeback later this year. “Beavis and Butt-Head will be returning this year with a brand new movie and more on Paramount+,” wrote Mike on Twitter. “No exact date yet, but soon. They need some time to get back in shape.” The post included sketches of the pair as middle-aged, pot-bellied and balding versions of their younger selves.
The return of these unlikely cultural figureheads 30 years after they first debuted on MTV’s Liquid Television is cause for celebration. Despite – or maybe because of – being two ‘dumb, crude, thoughtless, ugly, sexist, self-destructive fools’ (Mike Judge’s own description), Beavis and Butt-Head were a genuine phenomenon. Their TV show attracted millions of viewers, their album, The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience, featured a who’s who of 90s alt and metal stars like Nirvana, Megadeth and Primus and went double-platinum, and their movie raked in more than $60 million dollars in the US alone.
Perhaps the pair’s biggest contribution to heavy metal culture, however, was their status as unlikely tastemakers, a regular fixture of the show seeing them pass critique on music videos from everyone from Korn and Crowbar to Death, Morbid Angel and Metallica. Like so many other impressionable teens of the 90s, Tesseract guitarist James Monteith was just one of many introduced to a host of bands purely from their appearances on the show.
“There wasn’t really anywhere you could go back then to find this kind of stuff,” James admits. “You had a few hours every week of Headbangers Ball, but that was it. So Beavis And Butt-Head became the place I discovered so many brilliant bands – Crowbar, Prong, Ministry, Pantera…”
No cow was too sacred when it came to Beavis and Butt-Head’s desire to stick the boot in. Hair metal outfit Winger were perhaps the most famous victims of Beavis and Butt-Head’s ire (singer Kip Winger accusing the show of killing their career, though he admitted in 2014 he had “made peace” with Mike Judge and the show), but even Metallica – frequently featured on Beavis’s shirt – were mocked by the pair on the live video for For Whom The Bell Tolls, Butt-Head comparing James Hetfield to The Wizard Of Oz’s Cowardly Lion.
But if some bands were quaking in their boots at the idea of being mocked, others actively courted it. “We made a package that said, ‘Here’s our fat-ass band – have at it!’” admits Crowbar vocalist Kirk Windstein, whose video for Existence Is Punishment was featured on the show. “We knew they were gonna make fun of us but we didn’t care – it was the best show on TV in the 90s and we wanted on. It was worth it – almost never a week goes by we don’t have someone get in touch to say, ‘Hey, I saw you guys on Beavis And Butt-Head!’”
The new movie won’t be the first time the pair have returned to the screen – there was a short-lived revival in 2011. And Mike Judge is keeping his cards close to his chest this time around – the sketches of a middle-aged Beavis and Butt-Head suggest a Bill And Ted Face The Music-style update of the characters.
Quite what shape a ‘full’ return would take it anybody’s guess – the 2011 reboot saw the pair ripping on MTV’s many reality shows – but considering the sheer scope of media available now, perhaps Beavis And Butt-Head could be an unlikely phenomenon again thanks to the likes of YouTube or TikTok (a platform prime for quick music video takedowns). But with so many platforms to consider, that does beg the question: in 2022, do we really need Beavis And Butt-Head?
“Absolutely!” James enthuses. “I think sometimes metal can take itself too seriously. Even when it’s at its most angry and vicious I think there’s still a level of fun in there and Beavis and Butt-Head remind us of that.”
God knows we could all do with a good laugh and, to paraphrase the disclaimer, for some reason, the little weiner-heads still make us laugh.
The Beavis And Butt-head movie is due out later this year
Beavis and Butt-Head will be returning this year with a brand new movie and more on Paramount+. No exact date yet, but soon. They need some time to get back in shape. pic.twitter.com/tN5rePP9KnJanuary 5, 2022