Diagnosing Cornholio


After consuming large amounts of sugar and/or caffeine (ostensibly, as “heavier” substances would be inappropriate for television), loyal side-kick and what one journalist characterized as “a loose cannon,” Beavis undergoes a manic episode and succumbs to his alter-ego “Cornholio,” hypnotically stating that he “needs TP for [his] bunghole,” conveyed as an abrasive mantra with t-shirt over his head and rigid arms locked at 90°. It is unclear if this is a multiple personality, which would be schizophrenia, or just the livelier — somewhat playfully self-aware — punctuations of bipolar disorder, at which he “cycles” about 1 in every 5 episodes (adjusted as 1.4 times a week i.e. 20% of the time).

In a “real world” non-cartoon context, Beavis would likely have been prescribed a stimulant (Adderall, Ritalin) for his ADHD, maybe coupled with a mood stabilizer (Xanax, Lithium) and even an anti-psychotic (Seroquel). As Beavis lacks the organizational skills to moderate his dosage, he probably pops whatever pills he finds lying around, paired with either Red Bull or Robitussin. Such a psychiatric cocktail may have found a puppet in “Cornholio,” the outward manifestation of previously subdued histrionic, antisocial, and/or bordlerine personality disorder(s). Despite gaining a following, and perhaps usurping Butthead in popularity, Beavis remains (rhetorically, in the grand narrative of the show) a subordinate to the former, and so may suffer from inferiority “beta male” complex, for which he compensates by Cornholio’s brash behavior, a misguided projection of the confident male. It is not until Butthead delivers a quick smack that the world is in order.

Beavis’ fixation on not just his bunghole, but the constant reference to cleaning it, is of latent Freudian preoccupation. The obsession with toilet paper for his bunghole suggests three possibilities: (1) he has not wiped properly, and is very uncomfortable, (2) he compulsively worries about having adequate stock, or (3) creator Mike Judge sold out to the toilet paper industry. The 2nd stage of Freud’s “Stages of Psychosexual Development” is Anal (18 mnths – 3 yrs), during which the child derives pleasure retaining and eliminating feces, resulting in either an obsession with cleanliness and order (anal retentive), or — on the opposite end, which Beavis clearly find himself — messiness and disorder (anal expulsive).

His vaguely dormant or deceptive sexuality is daunting. He distractedly follows along in Butthead’s fervent male gaze, miming exaggerated responses to cleavage n’ ass, but without any innate volition or desire to conquer his object. His interpersonal skills with females is limited to a blank stare and an obsequious “yeah…hgm…yeah.” Where Butthead’s nachos resemble wishful bukkake, Beavis’ Cornholio has only the allusion to a corn dog and its hole. Far from queer, he is likely either asexual, or perverse beyond categorization. There was once an episode with a toad, and that toad disappeared. In short, TP is not the only thing for his bunghole.

Yet others may see his outward arms voluntarily locked in a kind of self-crucifixion, a tacit concession to his sins, or, more solemnly, ours. Be it the Second Coming or Messiah, we may have found in Cornholio a prophet, messenger, or deity himself. Ever mellow, he does not ask for followers, only TP for his bunghole. His face sticks out of his shirt’s stretched head hole like a sudden birth, already grown, of a forgotten immaculate conception. When Beavis returns to his self, he does not have any memory of what happened. It is a blurry line between hallucination and embodiment of God.

Ostracized by a provincial middle-class suburb at tail ends of a political spectrum (as represented by a feminist Daria and conservative Tom Anderson), Beavis has little where to go except existentially follow Butthead around in their own endless Waiting for Godot. Again, in a real world context, our friends would have to have been on some form of government subsidy, either unemployment, welfare, or “mental” disability. That their seemingly abandoned living room is the site of acute social commentary may be said commentary in itself. Butthead is a ghost, a place holder of the asinine. Socially castrated, emotionally neglected, and biochemically imbalanced, Beavis too is almost rendered a void, save the occasional, and glorious, moments when he — in a meditative Zen-like “present” of inward journey — finds utter rapture in his truer self.

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