Spongebob Squarepants branded a 'violent racist' who 'normalises colonialism'

13 October 2019, 20:14

Friendly sponge? Or dangerous colonialist?
Friendly sponge? Or dangerous colonialist? Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Beloved children's character Spongebob Squarepants has been accused of being a "racist", "violent" colonialist in an academic paper.

Far from being a friendly fictional creature, Professor Holly Barker from the University of Washington believes he is a dangerous colonialist who is living off land stolen from the indigenous people.

In an article titled "Unsettling Spongebob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom", Professor Barker claims Spongebob's hometown of Bikini Bottom is in fact an allegory for the real-life Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Natives of the island were relocated in 1946 so the US military could use the land for nuclear testing during the Cold War.

It was later revealed the residents were not provided with enough food and water to stop them from starving.

The testing left the soil with such high levels of radiation it was not possible for people to return.

Professor Barker wrote: "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 US hegemonic powers to extend their military and colonial interests in the postwar era."

She also accuses the cartoon of exhibiting cultural appropriation because some characters wear Hawaiian shirts and characters live in homes such as an Easter Island head and a pineapple.

Professor Barker continued: "SpongeBob SquarePants and his friends play a role in normalising the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland."

Spongebob's friends who live in Bikini Bottom include an angry clarinet-playing squid called Squidward Tentacles, an overweight starfish named Patrick Star, and a Texan squirrel named Sandy Cheeks.