A professor at the University of Washington wrote an academic article denouncing SpongeBob Squarepants as “violent,” “racist,” and “insidious.”
Professor Holly Barker’s tirade against the yellow cartoon character was published by an academic journal called The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs.
In it, Barker argues that the show’s fictional location of Bikini Bottom is unfair because it 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,” writes Celine Ryan. “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.”
Barker argues that SpongeBob has privilege because he is an “American character” who can go about his life care free without having to worry about the detonation of nuclear bombs.
This equates to “symbolic violence” because SpongeBob and his friends are perpetuating injustices against the indigenous people of Bikini Atoll by occupying the territory.
“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,” wrote Barker.
No, you’re not reading the Onion.
And if Professor Barker is reading this; Get over it, it’s a fucking cartoon.
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