Saturday, December 09, 2006

Betty and Bimbo Recommend: Spongebob Squarepants

We're thick in the first half of a Spongebob Squarepants top ten episodes countdown screened by Betty's crass and creative childhood companion, Nickelodeon. This is the channel that taught Betty disdain for homework before she had homework, and that real kids want FUN ALL THE TIME!

Betty probably wouldn't have found Spongebob to be all that fun when she was nine, and it might have even haunted her dreams a little. BUT it is so silly, so campy, and so masculinity-effacing that it is her favorite show on television right now.

We can understand why the American right wing would be scared of this show. Spongebob is not gay (as at least one critic clarified for us, He's a sponge), but the show definitely has an anti-rational, instantly ridiculous, and campy feeling going on. It's not a pointless piece of trash meant to distract kids away from bugging you and sex and drugs, like Yogi Bear or whatever, but it's also no VeggieTales.

Without ever resorting to nihilism (in the old-fashined sense, this show is extremely gay), Spongebob defies all laws of physics, reason, and narrative. As if that weren't enough to perplex fundamentalists and simpletons, the show's characters (even dumb Patrick) are more urbane and encompass more contemporary variations on character than most people we know - put together!

The show is fast-moving, easily absorbs (no pun intended) the language and sentiments of modern life into its (not particularly cute, and functionally flat) underwater backdrop, uses big words like "squalid" and "self-awareness", and doesn't teach easy (or any) lessons to children, other than the lesson that some things (physical gestures, outfits, objects, shapes, situations, attitudes, and ways you can use your voice) are just really funny. No worldly ideology is necessary. Sounds like the kind of show Trent Lott and George Bush could really cuddle up to, huh?

Instead of gay-baiting, maybe the Christian groups that got all up in a huff over a silly, post-modern, endearing and intuitively funny cartoon should have responded simply, as Spongebob did when a pirate ghost appeared in his house: "Just go and scare somebody who isn't me."

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