Scandals MTV Will Never Live Down

Scandals MTV Will Never Live Down

MTV scored huge in 1993 with Mike Judge's Beavis & Butt-Head, a crudely animated series about two small-town metalheads who spend their time destroying property and making fun of music videos. In the words of Butt-head, the show "ruled" youth culture for a while ... until the troubled Beavis' love of burning stuff (He'd often flick a lighter and shout "Fire! Fire!") almost brought down the whole thing.

In October 1993, 5-year-old Austin Messner set his bed on fire with a lighter. The boy and his mother, Darcy Burke, escaped the blaze, but the boy's 2-year-old sister didn't and died. The mother, and local authorities, placed the blame on Beavis & Butt-head, and specifically, Beavis' pyromania. "When you take a child in the formative years and you get these cartoon characters saying it's fun to play with fire, this is going to stick in that kid's mind and it's going to be with him for a long time" local Fire Chief Harold Sigler told the Associated Press (via The New York Times).

MTV swiftly responded, cutting out all references to fire from completed episodes of Beavis & Butt-Head and banning them from appearing in future installments. It also eliminated the show's 7 p.m. weeknight airings, reducing the show to its 10:30 p.m. showing, thereby cutting down on the possibility that young, impressionable viewers may be watching.


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