By M. Stephanie Murray
Arizona Daily Wildcat August 28, 1997
The truth is out there, not in hereImagine I tell you there's a new Beavis and Butt-Head book out. What is your reaction? If you're anyone who's been paying attention for the past five years, it should be: Isn't that over yet?
Apparently not, as the marketing geniuses at MTV have foisted another pop culture nugget upon us, namely MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head: The Butt-Files: Beavis & Butt-Head's Guide to Sci-Fi and the Unknown, (MTV/Pocket Books, $12); (And you thought only ponderous academic tomes carried that many subtitles.) A double-whammy of zeitgeist coat-tailing, this volume combines the wacky humor of that lovable twosome with the current fascination with the mysteries of the supernatural. What could be more fun?!
Gouging my eyes out with a fork springs to mind. The charm of B&B, as far as this viewer can tell, lies in their succinctness. Four minutes of plot (or something resembling such) broken up by video-commentary intermissions. Even the choosiest MTV viewer (and they are quite the selective bunch) can idle the remote-trigger-finger for the duration of a less-than-classic episode.
But this book ... it just goes on and on and on. Close to a hundred pages, and the print is kinda small, and sometimes the words cover more of the page than the picture does. It just doesn't seem right in so many ways ...
Since it's my job, I actually read the whole thing, at one sitting. I don't expect praise, but you should be aware of what I went through. The first problem I encountered was the mock-moronic diction, which is an effective if not inspired style choice. But the first page has "comprehension" spelled right, while all following "-tion" words are spelled wrong, e.g. "conclooshun." If you're gonna take me into your world, at least keep inconsistency from shattering my suspension of disbelief.
That world, as far as I can tell, must be kept strictly PG, which makes for some awkward substitutions. Since much of the book revolves around excretory elements, one would expect to find at least one mention of "shit." Nope. Instead, one finds "And then he'll poop in his pants!" (Italics added.) Some of the magic is lost every time poop is mentioned.
Once these stringent limitations are noticed, one can't help but feel for poor Greg Grabianski and Aimee Keillor. The life of a hack writer can't be easy. I picture Greg and Aimee locked in an MTV/Pocket Books conference room, totally loopy on Starbucks and Twix. "Can't we use 'boobs' just once?" screams Aimee.
"We've gone over this," Greg attempts to reason, once again. "Wal-Mart won't carry it if we use 'boobs.' If we use 'thingies' we can sell to all the Midwest snot-noses who will actually buy this crap."
"Can we use 'crap'?" Aimee asks hopefully.
Greg looks confused and worried and really hyper-caffeinated. "I don't know. I'll have to call someone."
That's no way for someone to make a living.