Currently I am not blessed with the financial freedoms to be able to afford cable television. I get all of my TV viewing from online sources such as Hulu. However, not too long ago you could find me any time of the day sitting on my bed watching the Nickelodeon classic SpongeBob SquarePants. The show is about a witty sponge, whose name is Bob, and his daily musings with guys like Patrick the Starfish and Squidward Tentacles. Any number of episodes involves SpongeBob and his day job as a chef at the Krusty Krab. He deals with anything from a micromanaging boss to an array of awkward and demanding customers. But the little sponge loves his job and, from the feeling I get from the show, would not trade it for the world.
But SpongeBob has a lot of history. He is not just the star of a midday kid’s show on Nickelodeon but he is a legend in his own right. I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss some of his history as he is often mistaken as a simple cartoon character. Just as Bugs Bunny is more than an animated form of entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants is an instant classic in not only our youth but also in adults alike.
When looking at where Mr. Bob came from, you can thank the one and only Jacques Cousteau. He is known as the man behind the invention of SpongeBob. Well, sort of. After finding inspiration in Cousteau films, SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg went to earn a higher degree and earned one in a natural resource planning with an emphasis in marine resources. He taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute for several years before pursuing his second love. He had always had an interest in animation. You wouldn’t think that marine biology and animation necessarily go together, but Hillenburg married his two careers and came up with the squishy yellow guy that made him famous. Hillenburg knows the combination is a strange one as he is known for saying, “When you set out to do a show about a sponge, you don’t expect the kind of appeal that he’s had.”
Did you know that SpongeBob was originally called SpongeBoy? Bizarrely, the name was already copyrighted. Of course it was not copyrighted as a fiction cartoon character under the sea but as a mop. I think it’s safe to assume that SpongeBoy hasn’t reached the household name status that SpongeBob SquarePants has. Hillenburg wanted to make sure that the word “Sponge” was retained in Mr. SquarePants’ name so children wouldn’t mistake him for a large chunk of cheese living under the sea. And from the looks of it I can see why some people would mistake him for a chunk of cheddar.
I might not be the biggest supporter of the leader in the White House, but he does enjoy some quality time with the Bob. President Obama told TV Guide in 2007 that his favorite cartoon character is “SpongeBob SquarePants.” He said this because SpongeBob is a show he watches with his daughters. So regardless of whether his daughters are the actual fans of the hit TV show or he is truly an under the sea kind of guy, I must admit that I finally can agree with something that Obama has said.
Did you know that Mr. Bob lives in a pineapple? In the theme song you can even hear them say, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” The answer is SpongeBob SquarePants. So why does SpongeBob live in a pineapple? If you pay attention to the show, not only do nautical and sailing motifs come up on a regular basis, Polynesian references are often thrown into the mix as well (surely you’ve noticed Squidward’s Easter Island head home). Pineapples are used commonly in tropical decor, but the creator also imagines that SpongeBob would just like the way living in a pineapple would smell. I truly enjoy a fresh pineapple from time to time and I can only imagine the scent that it would exude if I were to live in one.
There are other characters in the show that you should pay attention to. SpongeBob’s neighbor, Squidward, is one of them. He has a piss poor attitude about life and hates living next to Bob. He is easily annoyed as well which does not help the fact that he also works with SpongeBob. But if you’ve ever paid close attention, you have probably noticed that Squidward lacks the proper number of tentacles to be a squid or an octopus (the show has referred to him as both over the years so no one really know what he truly is supposed to be). The animators believed that giving Squidward more than six legs would just weigh him down too much visually, so they chose to go with inaccuracy over bad aesthetics. But that makes sense since SpongeBob is clearly a kitchen sponge, not a sea sponge. (Are you starting to see that I watch a little too much of this television show than I probably should?)
The last piece of SpongeBob trivia that I will leave you with is one that a lot of his fans are sold on. There is a large population of followers out there that think SpongeBob is gay. (Please ignore the fact that I drive a Smart car, that I enjoy wearing pink shirts and ties, and that I love techno music.) SpongeBob is not gay however much you keep telling yourself that. According to Entertainment Weekly, SpongeBob seems to have a loyal following in the gay community because of his “flamboyant and tolerant attitude.” SpongeBob came under fire when two Christian activist groups singled him out for holding hands with his best friend, Patrick. Evangelist James Dobson claimed the video was a “pro-homosexual” video. “I always think of the characters as being somewhat asexual,” he said, adding, ”I do think that the attitude of the show is about tolerance. Everybody is different, and the show embraces that,” he says. ”No one is shut out.”
If you have not seen the show I highly encourage that you take a half an hour out of your day today and try to catch a rerun on Nickelodeon. You will surely be able to find some time in your schedule once you see how funny this show is and how closely you can relate to it even though it is intended to be a show for children. I watch it every chance I get, and I even have started thinking about collecting his memorabilia. But with my Rickey Henderson, Tiger Woods, and beer cap collections, adding one more might be a little too much for me (and my girlfriend) to handle. So get out there and catch some SquarePants the next chance you get. I promise you will not be disappointed.