SpongeBob SquarePants has been called “violent” and “racist” by a Washington university professor.
Holly M Barker, who works at the University of Washington, says that the show normalises and enforces tropes about the colonisation of indigenous lands in the USA.
The professor’s claim is based on Bikini Bottom, the underwater city in which SpongeBob lives. She says that the fictional city is based on the Bikini Atoll coral reef, set off the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
In the Cold War, native peoples were moved from the Attol so the US could test nuclear missiles for the war in the area.
Barker wrote: “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.”
Hillenburg died in 2018 from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at age 57, and Beck was among those to pay tribute to the show’s creator. Hillenburg created the singer’s early artwork.