Media Critics Beavis and Butt-head

Media Critics Beavis and Butt-head

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According to Douglas Rushkoff’s in his article Hating What Sucks, Beavis and Butt-head are media critics, instructing viewers on how to criticize music videos. I believe the way Beavis and Butt-head go about their criticism and commentary is undermining our value system.
     In TV’s Anti-Families: Married . . . with Malaise, Josh Ozersky states “no one who watches TV is going to stop because they see TV criticized.” He goes on to say that we feel flattered by this criticism and continue watching television anyway. Beavis and Butt-head can be seen in the same light when they criticize music videos on MTV. “In doing so they again demonstrate for us how to watch TV in the nineties,” according to Rushkoff.
     I can only interject that when we watch TV being criticized by these characters we feel a sort of power from the knowledge their criticism gives us. But is this the only thing keeping our eyes glued to the tube? Ozersky writes, “TV has never shown us TV; rather, it shows itself to us as a laughable, absurd, and harmless entity, much like the characters on its shows.” The criticism of TV doesn’t go far enough to keep us from watching it. We feel that TV is harmless and this is what keeps us going back for more.
     Beavis and Butt-head qualify as being dysfunctional. So is this the kind of show you would find many cultural values in? Rushkoff argues that the show “promotes viewer awareness by allowing us to witness area where the characters’ own detachment has been compromised.” He says this in reference to Beavis watching an Aerosmith music video and lighting up a cigarette when the Aerosmith singer does. In this instance the author suggests he fell for the manipulation of the media. By the same token, Rushkoff contradicts himself and his pro-Beavis argument. Perhaps it is just a red herring, but by showing that the media manipulates Beavis it isn’t a very good argument for watching TV, much less Beavis and Butt-head.
     In all reality, people do watch Beavis and Butt-head and other anti-family television shows. The power we feel in the act of criticizing and the seemingly harmless antics of these shows gives us a reason to keep watching and criticizing TV despite the irony of it. Because we know TV characters have no power to change their situations in the TV world we feel we are above them and can watch TV with harmless effects.

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Ozersky said it best in the TV’s Anti-Families article when he wrote “Americans, who in an age marked by pervasive irony want to . . . feel superior to TV and yet keep watching it.” Our identification with TV characters and their criticism help further our feeling that TV is harmless. By deceiving us into thinking they’re harmless, Beavis and Butt-head teach us how to criticize in a gross, idiotic fashion. This is bad because we take this criticism and turn it on our own families.
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