A university professor deemed the beloved cartoon “SpongeBob Squarepants” “violent,” “racist,” and “insidious” in a scholarly article.
University of Washington professor Holly Barker published her musings on the yellow sponge cartoon character and his deep-sea pals in an academic journal called The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs, which features “readable” articles focused on “social, economic, political, ecological, and cultural topics.”
In her article titled “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom,” Barker’s chief complaint hinges on her perception that the show’s fictional setting of the town of Bikini Bottom is based on the nonfictional Bikini Atoll, a coral reef in the Marshall Islands used by the U.S. military for nuclear testing during the Cold War.
The indigenous people of the area were relocated during the testing, which eventually rendered the area uninhabitable due to residual radiation. Barker finds it unjust that SpongeBob and his pals be allowed to “occupy” the area when the nonfictional indigenous people of the area do not have the option to return to their homeland.
As an “American character,” SpongeBob supposedly has the “privilege” of “not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs.” In order to demonstrate this, the professor quotes one of the show’s writers, who said that the main character is “a guy who could get super-excited about a napkin but wouldn’t care if there was an explosion outside.”
“The detonations do not cause concern for the characters, as they did for the Bikinians, nor do they compromise SpongeBob’s frequent activities, like visiting hamburger joints or the beach with friends,” writes Barker.
SpongeBob and his friends supposedly perpetuate the past injustices against the indigenous people of Bikini Atoll through “SpongeBob’s occupation and reclaiming” of the nonfictional location’s lagoon. The setting of the show, Barker says, is “symbolic violence.”
“Although the U.S. government removed the people of Bikini from the atoll above the surface, this does not give license to SpongeBob or anyone else, fictitious or otherwise, to occupy Bikini,” insists Barker.
“SpongeBob’s presence on Bikini Bottom continues the violent and racist expulsion of Indigenous peoples from their lands (and in this case their cosmos) that enables U.S. hegemonic powers to extend their military and colonial interests in the postwar era,” she added.
Read the rest at: SpongeBob