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January 21, 2005

SpongeBob's Bad Day

David Kiley

SpongeBob SquarePants is having a bad day. Make that a bad week. It's all in the difficult life of a wealthy cartoon character.

The New York Times last week ran a good piece on SpongeBob, reporting how the Center for Science in the Public Interest rounded up all the unhealthy food products aimed at kids donning the SpongeBob logo: Oscar Meyer Lunchables, Pop Tarts, Kraft Macaroni-and-cheese, Cheese-Its and fast food meals. Nickelodeon this week said that it would like to see SpongeBob used on healthier products, but that those pesky advertisers who license the character find it a better gambit to put the cartoon on candy, cookies and pop rather than melon slices and brussels sprouts. Go figure.

This week, Reuters reported on how SpongeBob is now under fire from the American Family Association and Focus on the Family. These are two nutball organizations that pretend to be looking out for families when instead they merely use e-mail, direct mail and the soap-box too frequently given to them by the Fox Network to bully advertisers into restricting freedom of choice among consumers. The last time AFA surfaced was to protest advertisers that had purchased time during Desperate Housewives.

Focus on the Family is after SpongeBob, alleging that a video aimed at school children featuring the character promoting multi-cultural tolerance and diversity is a covert plot to "brainwash" kids into accepting homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle. This group and the AFA complain that they don't want such a video distributed in public schools. AFA and FOF further argue that SpongeBob is an icon in the gay community, and thus is being used to drive a gay agenda into the classroom.

Where do I start? First of all, the two groups are well-known paranoid gay bashers. They aren't focused on the family at all. They are focused on trying to force their own right-wing ideology on people who don't agree with them. Secondly, their alleged detection of a gay tolerance message is right up there with alleged messages on the Beatles White Album if you play the record backwards. SpongeBob is gay? The evidence of this is supposed to derive from the fact that Bob is sometimes seen holding hands with another male cartoon character. My three-year old son frequently reaches out to hold hands, hug or even kiss his playmates on the cheek, both male and female. I think it's sweet, as do the other parents I know. I have begun to talk to him about the need sometimes to ask before you hug or peck a child you don't know. But perhaps the "ministers" at AFA and Focus on the Family are uncomfortable with such a subtle approach, preferring that I cane my son.

What strikes me as so idiotic about AFA and FOF's paranoid ravings about SpongeBob as a possible conduit for pro-gay messaging to kids is their timing. I find it hilarious. The childhood obesity problem in the U.S. is becoming epidemic. Kraft and other food companies who already license SpongeBob to push an array of food unhealthy for kids, as well as adults, are about to use SpongeBob as a conduit for nutritional and fitness related "Nicktritional" labeling on their foods aimed at kids. This is a joint promotion with Nickelodeon. Got that? While SpongeBob is selling macaroni and fake cheese on one box, he's going to be advocating healthier eating and exercise on another box of food.

My problem with SpongeBob is not that he may, in the twisted minds of the AFA and FOF "leadership," be gay. I have utterly no problem with that. In fact, as a new board member of a public library, I hope to make sure that we have ample books that positively depict gay people in books for all ages. My real problem with Spongey is that he's a hypocrite. He's sending totally mixed messages about good healthy eating to kids who are being diagnosed with obesity and Type 2 Diabetes at an alarming rate. Funny that Focus on the Family and the AFA didn't pick up on SpongeBob as hyprocrite. I wonder why. Hmmmm.

05:35 PM

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I think that spongebob rocks. Hes a good little fry cook and hes not gay so people who are calling him gay im just going to ask you to stop it that makes me want to cry and makes me want to nock those nasty people out so people who are nasty to him you should all apoligise to spongebob for calling him that and you should all be a shamed of your selfs. The people who dont think spongebob is gay you are very nice and kind people xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by: spongebob's biggest fan at June 8, 2005 12:35 PM

hey i agree with that! spongebob is not gay! i love spongebob even though im older! i think spongebob is very funny! this article is full of shit and those are my complete feelings! if i could have my way everyone would watch spongebob. it is very appropiate for kids! EA

Posted by: emily ann at September 12, 2005 08:31 AM

Why do people always say its a show promoting homosexuality and other crap like that? spongebob is just a humurous child-like innocent show that some people just dont get.Man,people take everything too seriously even hillenburg said spongebob was an asexual,people need to check their eyes and learn to read! i agree with this article

Posted by: sonya at October 13, 2005 06:00 PM

this article puts far too much thought into a sweet program. All this talk about him being gay is stupid. Sponges are asexual and so is spongebob. I feel that if the gay community identify with spongebob it makes this program more worthwhile. The creator said that the whole theme of this show is acceptance. The rubbish you wrote about obesity is silly. Spongebob does not send mixed messages to kids. If kids are going to eat crap they will eat it whether or not spongebob is printed on a box. You really do put too much thought into a simple show. The purpose of SPongebob squarepants is to entertain. I think it has done just that and more. Dont critisize the sponge...whats he done to you?

Posted by: rachel us at October 22, 2005 10:47 PM

I know,why isnt always the tough guys or certain people who degrade a cartoon character like spongebob? he's innocent, he's nice to everyone in his town, so why are people in reality world saying all this bull crap about him? ughh, it maybe just a cartoon but cant people just understand what the character is? Stephen hillenburg and his writers dont look like the touchy-feely people who would make spongebob and his friends try to influence kids to be gay, they look like the type that just uses that stuff for humor, get it? gay people like spongebob,but he isnt gay. I mean, why gay people like him is his free personality and kind nature, he isnt gay and he isn't retard. So just leave him alone!

Posted by: lolani at November 10, 2005 10:36 PM

Spongebob isn't gay, you creeps! He likes Sandy the squirrel. Even check out episodes like "Ripped Pants", "Tea at treedome", "Squirrel Jokes", he always tries to impress her and he seems to really feel bonded to her, I think she likes him too. Stop saying he's gay! he dedicated a song to Sandy in "Ripped Pants." Even if Spongebob was gay, and you start to hate him....then you're all a bunch of idiotic, immature, snobbish homophobes like the conservative christian group who thinks SB IS GAY!

Posted by: BONDBYLOVE at December 26, 2005 11:33 PM

Spongebob isn't gay and he's not a hypocrite. GET OVER IT MAN! ITS JUST A CARTOON. Pretty sad that James dobson guy had to go around and attack Spongebob from that stupid video which he was in for like 5 minutes. Anyone who hates spongebob, fine, but he's not gay nor any of the crap people are saying about him.

Posted by: Mandy at January 16, 2006 03:55 PM

Spongebob is very gay. You just need to pay attention. The episode I just watched depicted him in his underwear holding a razor. He says "I ... am a man." Another episode, he says "Good idea Gary [pet snail], I think the candles are in the kitchen." In yet another episode, he gets scared of the outside world and decides to stay in his pineapple forever, until finally he decides he has to come out. He takes it very slowly, being very nervous, saying stuff like "It's good so far, I think I can do this," then a white piece of paper smacks him in the face and he flips out. That's supposed to depict a gay guy sucking a cock for the first time.

The gayness involved in the show is funny and in good taste. It's also very subtle, which makes you appreciate those jokes a bit more. Keep in mind that this isn't limited to Spongebob, just about every cartoon has at least one episode where they depict someone pinching another character's ass. Our generation is very gay.

Posted by: Larry at January 27, 2006 05:26 PM

People who dont like spongebob are retarted cows.Spongebob is loving and kind and NOT GAY fuck the people who think that.Its all shit they talk about to get noticed im 10 and know that.so people who dont are very big ass holes!!!

Posted by: Claire Retleach at February 5, 2006 09:37 AM

I used to think SpongeBob was funny and he had a very good attitude but after reading things like you people write then I won't nothing to do with him or the likes. Listen to you, it IS just a cartoon and you people are defending him like he is in your immediate family. I agree with the FOF group, people need to grow up and get a life.

Posted by: Stduno at February 15, 2006 08:48 AM

I agree with everyone above. Spongebob is not gay. Spongebob is the funnies cartoon i ever saw in my life. Plus if you even took the time to watch the show you'll find out that spongebob teaches number, letters, songs, out door safey, manners, and HE EVEN TAUGHT MY NIECES HOW TO TIE THEIR SHOE LACES. I know that you people who is talking about he's gay and all do the same thing with you friends if you have any or you just plain stupid and have problems. I don't know about the rest of you but........... did you hear on the new about your sweet little childrens show sesame street was suppose to a an adult show! yea thats right a adult show !!!! For example do you that green creature that lives in the garbage can he was suppose to be a drunk and he still do now.and big bird don't even get me started! sorry gots to go SPONGEBOB IS ON! 1

Posted by: Tiffany aka Tazzz at February 27, 2006 05:28 PM

i agree. i dont think spongebob is gay. i already know how to tie my shoes and he taught me another method. so people stop sayin stuff

Posted by: Jeremy Melvin at June 28, 2006 06:35 PM

I focus on the sublimanal content of the show and it's charecters. For example, Gary the snail.

If you remove the r from Gary what do you have?

Lot of stuff going on in that show i'm not so sure about. And if the New York Times gives it a two thumbs up it(the show) has to be in question.

Posted by: Sublimanal BoB at July 5, 2006 11:58 PM

I dont think Sponge bob gay thats what people say cause he be with patrick

Posted by: MiKeshia at October 19, 2006 06:16 PM

even if he is gay, who cares? He's funny. It kind of makes the show more funny. And besides, what's wrong with having an open mind from a young age? Some people are so paranoid...

Posted by: Ally at November 20, 2006 08:28 AM

I adore the little yellow sponge. If anything he inspires me to keep going in the mist of adversity. Spongy will go down in history as the most influencial fictional character of all time; so there you go sponge haters..;-)

Posted by: Alberto Urtusasregui at January 28, 2007 06:53 PM


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