From the minute MTV released on Aug. 1, 1981, it was bound to rattle the nerves of parents and moral crusaders. In its first decade on air, provocative videos and performances from pop stars including Madonna and George Michael invited attention and ignited controversy.
Though it’s fairly established by now that the cable channel-turned-entertainment brand stopped being the home of music videos some time ago, its contribution to the television landscape transcends music and reality TV. By the 1990s, the network’s biggest stars also included its resident pair of animated knuckleheads: Beavis and Butt-Head.
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The show about brain dead teens and their pubescent whims debuted on MTV in 1993 and was quick to catch flack for everything from its rougher animation style to the impulsive actions of its stars. Critics called the duo “crude,” “ugly” and “self-destructive.”.
Kris Brown became the head writer of Beavis and Butt-Head in 1994. He says when he was assigned his first episode, he described the show to his own father as being “about these two 13-year-olds that are really stupid and they’re just self-destructive. They’re really into heavy metal, and I mean I don’t think it’s for you really, but I’m really excited about it.” His dad paused and, as Brown recalls, said, “Well, do you plan on writing for anything else?”.
But the show was critic-proof. Beavis and Butt-Head became MTV Music highest rated show at one time and expanded into a 1996 feature film– Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. The movie got two thumbs up from critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert and featured multiple cameos, including one from super-fan David Letterman as a roadie who most certainly sired Butt-Head.