In Praise of SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob and Patrick having fun.
SpongeBob and Patrick having fun.

What is an adult man doing watching a kids cartoon? Having a trip into the escapist world of absurdity, that’s what! Yes, our esteemed editor Mr. Wapojif has been busy of late hurtling through episodes of this most joyous of shows.

“WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?!” we hear you yodel. It centres around the relentlessly optimistic, largely idiotic eponymous character. SpongeBob lives in a pineapple house under the sea and works at a local fast food joint – The Krusty Krab.

SpongeBob SquarePants

This is all set in the (fictional) town of Bikini Bottom. His neighbours include the brilliantly idiotic Patrick (a starfish), and the morose Squidward (who despises his neighbours).

SpongeBob also lives with his pet snail, Gary, who behaves a bit like a cat and exhibits far superior intelligence to his owner. SpongeBob is also good friends with Sandy Cheeks, a squirrel from Texas who lives in a Tree-Dome and must wear a deep sea diving suit when outside.

That’s the fundamental set up. Episodes revolve around SpongeBob’s eccentric behaviour, and with partner-in-crime Patrick in tow all manner of chaos ensues. Pretty surreal, eh? Read on to find out more madness!

It all launched in 1999 and is now Nickleodeon’s flagship show (unsurprising as it’s raked in $8 billion of merchandise), with spin-off films, video games, and nearly 200 full episodes. Now, it is sort of a kids cartoon.

There are bright lively characters, it’s incredibly silly, and you don’t need a brain to enjoy it. However… lurking beyond the pleasant exterior lies a surprising amount of existential, dark humour (such as many ruminations about the drudgery of working life and/or death).

There is also a large amount of advanced language in there which children couldn’t possibly understand. The show is essentially made for adults – it merely masquerades as a cartoon for wee, stupid children.

Despite its phenomenal success SpongeBob SquarePants has kicked up a lot of controversies. The whole show promotes a liberal attitude and how everyone can, you know, get along so long as we’re not idiotically, pointlessly hateful about simple differences.

This was perhaps best displayed in 2005 when the characters featured in a video where they sung about diversity and tolerance. Some people were pretty gosh darned angry about this.

Doting parents SpongeBob and Patrick take their baby clam for a walk.
Doting parents SpongeBob and Patrick take their baby clam for a walk.

The enlightened nature of SpongeBob (in numerous episodes he’s seen happily dressing up as a woman. As pictured above. In this episode Patrick and SpongeBob take on parenthood upon finding an orphaned clam.

As Patrick is heavily overweight and a bit thuggish, it’s decided he should be the father. SpongeBob gleefully takes on the role of mother) has led some to question his intended sexuality.

The show’s creator, Stephen Hillenberg, pointed out it’s an “almost asexual” and abstract world, but this hasn’t stopped hysterical sorts from presuming SpongeBob is out to destroy society with his deranged indecency.

Frankly, how anyone can get themselves worked up about such a fun cartoon is beyond us.

SO! All we can state is this: if you enjoy escapist runs of absurdity, like imaginative inanities, and appreciate silliness, then the show’s for you. Huzzah! If you should dare take it on, this is the type of stuff you can expect. Enjoy!

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