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The Hidden Message You Likely Missed On The Original Beavis And Butt-Head

The dream of the 1990s is about to be very much alive on Paramount+. Okay, the return of the iconic animated series "Beavis and Butt-Head" may not exactly be a dream for everyone, but for a certain sect of the population, the not-quite-dynamic duo's streaming revival is an event to be celebrated with a suitable amount of head-banging. This is, of course, a surprisingly fruitful time to be a fan of the heavy metal-loving miscreants, as creator Mike Judge and Paramount+ also released a new movie, the critically acclaimed "Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe," back in June. 

Now that they've, ahem, "done" the universe itself, Beavis and Butt-Head are returning to their episodic ways to once again wreak havoc on the pop culture front with the absurdly stupid, and at times wildly insightful wit that made them the toast of teens everywhere back in the '90s. On the flip side, the original "Beavis and Butt-Head" series also drew the ire of the watchdog set, who targeted both the show and its heavy metal influences as a key contributor to the dumbing down of American youth (per The Los Angeles Times). 

Right or wrong, those watchdog groups' takes clearly missed, or simply misunderstood, the sometimes sublimely subversive humor Judge and his creative team frequently worked into the series. And according to Judge himself, on a few occasions, he slyly used such groups' expectations against them by dropping hidden messages into "Beavis and Butt-Head."  

Mike Judge subverted expectations with Beavis' subliminal messages

Mike Judge made that revelation in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, telling the publication he was inspired to use hidden messages in "Beavis and Butt-Head" thanks to cultural fears surrounding them at the time. Although Judge doesn't cite it explicitly in his interview, he appears to be referencing the so-called Satanic Panic of the '80s and early-'90s. Among accusations of mass ritual killings and day-care centers run by Satanists, the idea that there were subliminal messages in youth-oriented music that one could hear when played backward was part of the scare (per The New York Times). 

That is what Judge seized upon when he conjured a gag in which Beavis speaks backward. Per Judge, "Actually, back in the '90s, there was still that lingering thing from the late '80s about how metal albums were accused of putting in backward messaging. And I actually had a couple of cases where Beavis starts talking backward ..." However, to further satirize the moment, Judge clarified that when you actually listen to Beavis' words backward, the message is far from what those partaking in the Satanic Panic might assume: "he's saying, 'Stay in school and go to college.'"

If you're a fan of Judge, you know that wicked little burn is indicative of the inventive, acerbic wit that has suffused much of his work since. And it'll likely be on display once again when "Beavis and Butt-Head" take their talents back to Paramount+. That momentous event will happen on August 4, 2022.