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VICE magazine got a chance to sit down with Mike Judge, the creator behind the iconic MTV series, Beavis and Butt-Head, who will soon be gracing our television sets once again. This in-depth forage into the mind of a man who brought us two of the more clueless, yet accurate representations of teenage angst in the ’90s is truly a must-read. Check out some of choice excerpts below.
How do you think kids who never watched the original series are going to react to the new show? I feel that the culture of this generation sucks so badly that they may be too far-gone to understand the nuances of Beavis and Butt-Head’s commentary. Or, more likely, I’m just getting old and crotchety.
When I started doing the show, I was already old. I was pushing 30; about your age, so obviously I already felt like I was older than the characters. But it’s weird, even at the time in ’92, I remember people at MTV would say that AC/DC and Metallica were old references. They were like, “Maybe it should be Nirvana or Pearl Jam or something else, you know?” It was already unhip to begin with, but to me it’s more like a state of mind than a cultural reference to a particular time period, even though there are some specific references. So it’s about going to that same place, except now I’m watching Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant. The last episode was 14 years ago, so yeah, things have changed, but…
But they haven’t.
No, they haven’t, and the other characters haven’t. Like, I was looking at the hippie teacher character, and back when I first did the show I thought, “Are there really guys like this anymore?” Then I looked around and there were plenty of hippies in tie-dyed shirts, and it’s the same thing today. There are other parts that we had to adjust a little bit, but The Simpsons are still wearing the same clothes and have the same hair and have been on this long.
How about MTV? It’s basically unrecognizable from the network it was 15 years ago, and it seems like only tweens and douchebags watch it now. Are you working with any of the same people as before?
Well, Judy McGrath just left, which was kind of a bummer. She’d been running the whole thing since I started. But as for everyone else, it’s kind of the same bunch of people. It’s funny—when I did King of The Hill over at Fox, they were firing everybody every few months. At MTV, the people at the top have been the same, so it’s like going back to the same place, except the network has obviously changed a lot. You have these executives saying, “We’ve got all these shows like Teen Mom that are watched by teenage girls. That’s our demo. We need guys watching us.” I think part of the reason they wanted to bring the show back was to see if they could get more of a male audience again.
So were you planning on making new Beavis and Butt-Head episodes for a long time, or did MTV approach you?
It started with MTV approaching me. They’d bring it up every year or two. They wanted a movie, and then there was a while when they were talking about a series, but I hadn’t heard about it for a bit. My manager would occasionally say, “You know, they call me from time to time,” but this last time it came as a full-court press, like, “Would you want to bring the show back?” King of the Hill was done, and I’d just done a live-action movie [Extract] and didn’t want to do that again anytime soon. I had written down ideas about a sequel to the movie, and ideas in general over the years, but I always felt like I wasn’t quite done with it. When I quit, I was burned out. I wanted to do other things, but I never felt like, “I’m completely burying that. I’m done with it.” I also wouldn’t have thought that, 14 years later, I’d start doing it again. But it feels right for some reason.
Head over to VICE to read the piece its entirety.
Photography: Terry Richardson