SpongeBob: Unsafe at Any Depth?
January 26, 2005
By Joy-Ann Reid
Is SpongeBob SquarePants gay? This has become a very important
question for my household. I have three children, all under age
10, and they love Spongebob. The little dictators even dragged me
(on my dime) to the Nickelodeon movie, in which the little sponge
who lives in a pineapple under the sea embarks on an adventure with
his best friend - a pink starfish named Patrick. Hmm... a pink starfish.
In one part of the movie, the two sea creatures even launch into
a glam rock version of "I'm a goofy goober... yeah!" in which Patrick
winds up in thigh high spiked boots.
It's all so confusing. My kids are too young to have to contend
with the sexual orientation of the people on TV, let alone the cartoons
(I didn't figure out the Village People until I was in college,
but then I was kind of sheltered). So when I find out that SpongeBob,
Bob the Builder, Jimmy Neutron and other cartoon characters are
being used to "surreptitiously indoctrinate young children into"
the homosexual lifestyle, I pay attention. I can't even indoctrinate
the little rugrats to keep their rooms clean. I'll be damned if
some cartoon is gonna get to them first.
The controversy involves a remake of the Sister Sledge song "We
Are Family," including a video, which is to be distributed on DVD
and CD to 61,000 schools nationwide in March along with a study
guide on promoting tolerance. The song will also be aired as part
of a special on Nickelodeon, PBS and The Disney Channel, all sponsored
by FedEx. The video coincides with a proposal to create a national
We are Family Day on March 11, the six month anniversary of Sept.
11 and also the anniversary of Spain's "9/11".
But "pro-family activist group" The American Family Association
says that the project is "an 'open door' to a secondary discussion
of homosexuality," according to the right-wing website WorldNetDaily.
The AFA specifically objects to a tolerance pledge it says children
will be encouraged to sign, which includes sexual identity along
with "culture, race" and "other characteristics." The pledge, taken
from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Declaration of Tolerance,
is not part of the curriculum, but can be found on the Foundation's
Beyond that, the WeAreFamilyFoundation.org
site is short on details that might help ferret out the truth about
Bob. It contains lots of warm language about "tolerance," "global
unity," and "acceptance," but the only link to an apparent gay agenda
is a ubiquitous multi-colored heart logo generally reminiscent of
the gay pride flag (plus a highly suspicious reference to Studio
According to the site, the We Are Family project was launched
shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks by '70s super-producer
Nile Rodgers, who wrote the 1979 song of the same name. The project
migrated from a grown-up celebrity recording, to a children's version
aired in March and September, 2002, to the current project, which
was recorded last November.
The new video will include the children's characters, from the
cast of Blues Clues to the cast of Sesame Street (including the
notorious sponge), plus humans like Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg.
The organization's Board of Directors includes education advocates,
corporate big-wigs, as well as Larry King's lawyer, musician Steven
Van Zandt and talk show host Montel Williams. According to the Foundation's
website, the proposed Family Day is supported by two Republicans
- retired Sen. Bob Dole and Sen. Orrin hatch.
But the AFA is not alone in not feeling the love. According to
the New York Times, a spokesman for Focus On The Family called
the video "insidious" and a "classic bait and switch," aimed at
"brainwashing" kids into accepting the gay lifestyle. The group's
leader, James Dobson, reportedly attacked Spongebob by name at a
black tie pre-inaugural dinner, expressing outrage that 'Bob and
Patrick are frequently seen holding hands. Sounds awfully Teletubby
WorldNetDaily claimed that the Foundation's website outs the group
as "a voice of informed straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered
people" who are "working to spread (the) truth about homosexuality."
That message can be found on a We Are Family website, but not
the one associated with the tolerance video. Charleston, S.C.-based
We Are Family Organization is a local non-profit that offers counseling
and support services to gay and lesbian teens and young adults.
That group's president, Ken Hubbard, confirmed to me by telephone
that the organization and the foundation are not related.
Hopefully that clears Spongebob's name, and my children can safely
force me to buy the "SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" DVD.
Joy-Ann Reid is a freelance writer in South Florida. Her work
has appeared in the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel,
Commondreams.org and Salon.com. Contact Joy-Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit her website at http://reidreport.com.