For the Love of Spongebob – A Look At The Popular Kids Series
When Spongebob Squarepants hit the Nickelodeon scene thirteen years ago, I paid little attention to it. I had no kids of my own nor were there any young kids in my family at the time. But even as a non-viewer of the show, I still knew a little bit about it—and none of it good. I heard how offensive it was, how inappropriate it was for the young kids who watched it and how it teaches children bad things. I even remember a study that was done which showed that after kids watched Spongebob Squarepants, they suffered from attention deficit and hyperactivity. In my mind, there was nothing good about this show and I wondered why it was so popular and why parents let their kids watch it.
Fast forward a few years later and I became a mom. My husband and I, knowing what we knew about Spongebob Squarepants, would not allow my daughter to watch it until she was older. We kept our word, but it became increasingly difficult for us to continue since she was watching many Nickelodeon programs and ultimately, Spongebob and friends would pop up in commercials, advertisements and even the show itself. We decided when she was somewhere between five and six years old that we would allow her to watch it as long as we watched it with her so we could see what the show’s content was and whether or not we would continue our ban on Spongebob.
I must say, not only was I surprised over much of the uproar I heard about, but my husband and I actually found the show amusing and entertaining. Sure, there were a lot of jokes that my daughter (and many young kids) did not understand, but we really did not find anything that warranted all of the backlash and criticism it had gotten. In fact, we found it downright silly more than anything else. The only thing that I found to be objectionable was the constant use of the words “moron” and “idiot”. Other than that, we really did not see the big deal.
When I think back to the cartoons I watched as a kid, they were far worse than Spongebob Squarepants. I would spend hours a day watching a cat and mouse or a road runner and a coyote try to inflict bodily harm on each other in the most violent ways imaginable. Black eyes, mountain-size bumps on the head and bloodied bruises were common occurrences. There were endless run-ins with frying pans, hammers, explosives, attack dogs, anvils and various sharp objects. This type of brutality is not common on Spongebob Squarepants. In fact, when a character does get hurt, it is usually by his own hand in an attempt to do something that does not quite work out the way he planned.
The difference between the current cartoons and those from way back when is that they are a lot more sophisticated today. Parents can actually sit and watch Spongebob Squarepants and be as entertained by it as their kids. I certainly do not remember my parents being entertained by most of the cartoons I watched as a kid and now I understand why. Rewatching those old shows makes me realize just how ridiculous and immature they were—not to mention there was very little dialogue, if any, in each episode.
Now that I am more educated on Spongebob Squarepants, I did not hold my son to the same rule as my daughter (even if I wanted to, it was difficult to avoid it when one child is already watching it). By age two, he was already a Spongebob fan and now, at almost four, he absolutely loves it. He does not get half the jokes and many of the words the characters use are much bigger than him, but he laughs at their hijinks, silly faces and whatever it is that Spongebob and the gang are doing. On the occasion that my son does repeat one of those not-so-nice words, I make it clear to him that those words are only for television and not meant to be said. He understands and even tells me the same thing if I should forget and use those words myself.
What I do like about Spongebob Squarepants is that he really is a good guy. He is a hard worker, a loyal friend and employee, loves life, and is an all-around nice guy. The fact that he is surrounded by some odd and not-so-bright characters makes him even more endearing as he tries to juggle all of them into his very simple, yet satisfied, life.
After thirteen years, it is difficult to argue that Spongebob’s popularity is waning. New generations are discovering this funny group of misfits and getting as much amusement out of it as those who were there at its beginnings. What is even better is that even as these kids get older, they can still enjoy the exploits of Spongebob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Squidward and Sandy—only this time they will understand those jokes that went over their heads as youngsters.