S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 19 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 

 
Flowers for Butt-head

 

[Frog Baseball]

I can't remember the first time

we met. Was it at one of Spike

and Mike's animation festivals,

surrounded at the midnight

showing by other people who

thought, as Freud did, that sick

jokes told in mixed company

express a sense of optimism

about getting laid? It never

worked out that way,

unfortunately. Frog Baseball was

virtually guaranteed to make

that special someone turn her

head aside in mid-festival and

look at you in blame and

disappointment and say - "Ugh,

creepy. Ugh, ugh!"

 

[Aeon Flux]

Or was it deep in the hive of

Colossal Pictures, where, if you

dropped by a few years ago you

could have seen scores of

carefully scribbling

worker-bees, not dissimilar to

the stylish junior webmasters of

today, putting the finishing touches

on 1991's "rocket from the

underground," Liquid Television?

Aeon Flux was the star of that

anthology, or at least the

public relations officers at

Colossal liked to think she was

the star, since that

blood-drenched parody of

superherodom was animated in

their studio. But Aeon never

made the transition from simple

pop success to apotheosis. The

flying fickle finger of fate

flummoxed Flux and flicked her

feeble fingernail at our

Feckless Friends.

 

You know who I mean.

 

[Mike Judge]

Here's a new episode for Mike

Judge. Beavis and Butt-head take

smart drugs. They become

geniuses. But it's like Flowers

for Algernon - only worse. They

suffer deeply. They get angry at

a world of sham culture and

manipulated "thoughts" and

"emotions." They smash their

televisions. They learn about

computers. They make Web pages.

They sit for hours in front of

their PCs. A certain look

appears in their eyes, which,

only a moment before, had been

so unusually clear and

intelligent. They point and

click. Ahhhhhh, browsing. A tube

of glue slips out of Butt-head's

pocket and inserts itself into a

greedy nostril.

 

By the way, do they still sell

smart drugs? As this very minor

trendlet rippled through the

commercial "counter-culture" of

free city weeklies and

claustrophobic indoor raves, it

seems never to have occurred to

anyone to question the premise.

Under the requisite flashing

strobes or in front of the

amazing multicolor display of

digital video which, upon

cursory investigation, revealed

itself to be a few fuzzy

fractals projected upon a sheet;

or standing in the middle of a

dance floor while the clerk from

a clothing store, her eyes

trembling from a third or fourth

dose of MDMA in forty-eight

hours, stood on a pedestal and

did a late twentieth century

rendition of the coochie-coochie -

in either of these situations or

in any of their analogues, what

possible value could there be in

20 or 30 extra points of I.Q.?

 

[Geniuses]

It is clearly not smart drugs

that we need in this earthly

vale of tears of boredom - while

standing in the grocery line, or

while sitting calmly and

listening to instructions from

the managers of your software

company. It is stupid drugs.

 

Question: Do you get paid alot?

MikeJudge1: Yeah, money is cool.

 

[Mild Language]

B&B have even spawned a CD-ROM

spin-off, which is a stunningly

unnecessary and impressive

accomplishment that bears

comparison with Microsoft's

continued dominance of the realm

of Macintosh applications. Like

Microsoft Word for the Mac,

Beavis and Butthead in Viacom's

Virtual Stupidity CD-ROM

represent a kind of superfluous

crowning touch of capitalism,

done simply as a demonstration

of invincibility.

 

Me, I hated it. I took a crack at

Virtual Stupidity, and never

managed to get out of the school

where the adventure begins.

Perhaps I wasn't drunk enough.

After an hour, the unbelievable

tedium and terrifyingly

repetitious commentary by the

anti-heros produced in me

feelings of giddiness and not

unpleasant helplessness that

were between N2O and sniffing

glue, but closer to N2O. Before

long, in desperation, I was

clicking everywhere. I clicked

on a metal grate near the floor

of the hallway, causing one of

them (I forget which) to bend

down and yell "Nachos!" into the

air duct. This was a typical

episode.

 

After a few of hours of fun, a

couple of colleagues who had

been working on the keg took

over and made major progress,

climbing up through the ceiling

of the gym, leaning over the

roof of the school, and spitting

lugers down on passers-by. The

route to escape? The

serendipitous marriage of whim

and insolence: a wad of lung

butter expertly aimed at

Principal McVicker's head.

 

[Virtual Stupidity]

The interface of Virtual

Stupidity hovers expertly on the

border between incompetent and

inane. In guiding the feckless

ones on their sojourn through

the hallways of their school, up

to the roof, out into the town,

and, in the wee hours of the

morning (yours, not theirs), to

Todd's garage where you can jam

with his band (this constitutes

victory, obviously), you use a

number of clever tools. For

instance, when you select the

eyes from the tool menu you can

look at things. When you select

the hand you can walk over to an

object and pick it up or open it

or take a limited number of

other, pre-programmed actions.

With the foot, you can walk over

to an object.

 

Wait, let's see if we have this

right. With the hand, you can

walk over and take an action.

With the foot, you can walk over

but not take an action. Doesn't

this make the foot redundant?

Yes! Not only is the classic

stupid interface error of a

totally redundant user option

presented with a straight face

in Virtual Stupidity, but the

snafu comes across, if you've

reached the right level of

mental disability, as hilarious

satire. Of course - hands

flitting across the keyboard,

mouth agape, a bit of drool

rolling unconsciously down our

lips as we grope for the beer

bottle - of course the foot is

redundant. Sitting at our

computers, we are all hands, and

the lame step of Oedipus as he

drags himself toward

self-knowledge is an

irrelevance, a joke, it's just,

it's just, it's just...

 

...stupid.

 

Which reminds me of a story. A

friend of mine once overheard

this conversation at the Seattle

aquarium. There was a

white-haired woman in a

teddy-bear sweatshirt and her

husband standing by the puffins

and the woman said to the man,

"look, honey, those birds can

swim."

 

[Fight! Fight!]

"Those aren't birds, they're

fish," he answered, his voice

rich with years of familiar

condescension.

 

But Mrs. Wife refused to retreat.

"No honey, they're birds.

They're birds that swim."

 

The head of household held his

ground, too, and inevitably,

just as he was repeating "No,

they are fish, they're fish,

they're fish I tell you," the

birds broke the surface of the

water and flew a few feet up to

the top of their cage.

 

He turned away.

 

"That's just stupid," he

answered, with joyous and

unshakable contempt.


[Into The Sunset]

courtesy of Dr. McLoo