Spongebob: Remembering an icon and an idol

This story has been republished. Original publishing date: December 5, 2019.



One of many popular Spongebob memes students share on social media.

Ca'ron Murphy, Feature's Editor

A generation of kids sit down on the floor in front of the television screen and listen to a small radioactive sponge working his signature job at the Krusty Krab along with his stingy boss and his slightly depressed coworker/neighbor. This niche animated cartoon from the brink of the nineties brought with it all the crass humor and idiotic characteristics of the children’s films of that day. Most television shows don’t last five seasons, yet this show has lasted with over 12 seasons and 20 years of childhood laughter. 

For many students, Spongebob is nostalgic as it brings back the memories spent on weekday afternoons eating gummies and waiting for mom to finish dinner. For others it’s the sleepovers held on the weekend where a friend tells you that you absolutely have to watch this funny cartoon with the intelligent squirrel from Texas. For some it may be the Spongebob movie grand premier that released in November of 2004. One of the most significant moments of a child from the early 2000’s would be watching this movie in its entirety. 


As we reflect on these events and think about our favorite episodes, phrases, and songs from the Spongebob universe, we must also think about the impact it has had on our lives. How many times has someone started a friendship over something trivial as talking about an episode of Spongebob? How many group conversations had sprinkles of Spongebob throughout. Spongebob fans have asked the question, “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” or sarcastically asked “Will it be mustard, or ketchup?” Do you remember who first invented chocolate, or who delivers the best pizza in Bikini Bottom? When someone is sad do you play them a song on the world’s smallest violin, or do you tell them they’re about to have “the best day ever”?


The fact of the matter is that part of Spongebob’s success comes from its longevity. The show started two decades ago and still has a loyal fanbase who cherishes its original productions while sometimes sitting down and enjoying a new episode every now and then. The evolution of the show itself can be seen in the changes of animation as well as the topics into which Spongebob dives. The show’s relevance in 2019 is based on the longstanding reputation it has gained throughout the years. There is now an intergenerational connection between those who grew up watching the original episodes and the kids who watch the new versions today. The debate on whether “new spongebob” or “old spongebob” is better is a debate that could be argued for hours. Spongebob is, like any work of literary merit, best left for the observer to interpret. 


Regardless of interpretation, the only true monsters are the parents who don’t allow their children to watch this show that single-handedly increased my sense of humor and encouraged me to want everyone to have a smile on their face. Spongebob’s role was so subliminally significant to those who grew up watching it, that our current social media outlets are still focusing a majority of their topics around the show, whether it be the sound of Mr. Krabs legs, or the shriek of Mermaid Man’s “EEEEVILLLLLL” we all laugh as we remember these signature aspects of our childhood. Spongebob fans lost a brilliant soul with the passing of Stephen Hillenburg last year, who was battling ALS. Fans gathered world-wide to pay respect to a man who changed the idea of humor for an entire generation, and many more to come.