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University of Washington professor Holly Barker has accused the children’s cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants of being “violent” and “racist” in an academic paper called “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom.”
Bikini Bottom, of course, is the town under the sea where Spongebob and friends live in the TV show, and it is based off of Bikini Atoll – a real coral reef in the Marshall Islands that was used by the U.S. military for nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War.
According to Holly Barker, the setting for the children’s classic is “unjust” because the indigenous people of Bikini Atoll were relocated prior to the nuke testing on the site, so Spongebob, as an “American character” “occupying” Bikini Bottom is perpetuating alleged injustices to the indigenous people of the territory.
As 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 U.S. hegemonic powers to extend their military and colonial interests in the postwar era.”
Here's the abstract for the academic paper on none other than Spongebob, published in The Contemporary Pacific journal:
Billions of people around the globe are well-acquainted with SpongeBob Squarepants and the antics of the title character and his friends on Bikini Bottom. By the same token, there is an absence of public discourse about the whitewashing of violent American military activities through SpongeBob’s occupation and reclaiming of the bottom of Bikini Atoll’s lagoon. SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of Indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland. This article exposes the complicity of popular culture in maintaining American military hegemonies in Oceania while amplifying the enduring indigeneity (Kauanui 2016) of the Marshallese people, who maintain deeply spiritual and historical connections to land—even land they cannot occupy due to residual radiation contamination from US nuclear weapons testing—through a range of cultural practices, including language, song, and weaving. This article also considers the gendered violence of nuclear colonialism and the resilience of Marshallese women.
What do you have to say about this, folks?
These Twitter users have some thoughts:
In a time where delusional leftists seem to think every other thing is "racist" and offensive, what's next?
Fox News gave more details on Barker's claim that Spongebob is violent and racist:
"SpongeBob SquarePants," which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Friday, has millions of fans around the world, but one University of Washington professor is clearly not among them.
For a recently published academic journal, the professor, Holly M. Barker, wrote an article "Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom," in which she offers a different take on the affable sea sponge.
"SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland," the article reads.
Barker calls SpongeBob's colonization of Bikini Bottom "violent" and "racist," and also claims that the cartoon is guilty of the "whitewashing of violent American military activities" against natives of the Pacific.
Barker's beliefs come from the idea that the show is set in a version of the real-life Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. During the Cold War, natives of the area were relocated and the American military used the zone for nuclear testing.
The area remains uninhabitable to this day. That history has given rise to fans' theory that Bikini Bottom is inhabited by creatures who owe their mutation to that testing.
Barker stated that as an "American character" allowed to inhabit an area that natives had no choice but to leave, SpongeBob showed his privilege of "not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs."
Barker also points out the cultural appropriation of Pacific culture, with Hawaiian-style shirts, homes in the shapes of pineapples, tikis and Easter Island heads, and the sounds of a steel guitar perpetuating stereotypes of the region.
KTVL also said:
A professor from the University of Washington has written an article claiming the cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants" shows racism and violence.
In the article "Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom," professor Holly Barker says the residents of Bikini Bottom, which is the town where SpongeBob lives, colonized the area by taking the land from native Bikinian people.
"The cartoon desensitizes viewers to the violence of settler colonialism, normalizes and erases the displacement of the Bikinian people from their ancestral land, and whitewashes US military rampages on the islands in the history and narratives of Bikini," Barker says in the article.
Barker goes on to state that SpongeBob and other residents destroy Bikini Bottom and exploit the Bikinian and Marshallese people of their resources.
The Blaze added:
A University of Washington professor is apparently gravely concerned about the cultural impact Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants" could be having on indigenous people.
Professor Holly Barker penned an article that was featured in "The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs" regarding the cartoon, insisting upon its dangerousness for perpetuating a legacy of racism and violence against Pacific indigenous people.
In an article titled, "Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom," Barker said the show is promoting violence and racism against such people through its "occupation" of native Pacific lands. Barker also points out that the show also promotes "cultural appropriation" in using an island-themed motif throughout its production design.
In the article, Barker insisted that the show's fictional setting of Bikini Bottom — SpongeBob's home — is based on Bikini Atoll, where the U.S. military conducted nuclear testing during the Cold War. During testing, Bikini Atoll natives were relocated and were not permitted to return after scientific testing determined that the area was later uninhabitable due to the nuclear testing.
Though the show is simply a children's cartoon about an animated sink sponge living in an underwater city, Barker called the show "violent," "racist," and "insidious."
"SpongeBob's presence on Bikini Bottom continues the violent and racist expulsion of Indigenous peoples from their lands," Barker wrote. She pointed out that SpongeBob — an "American character" — benefits from the privilege of not having to care about nuclear testing and forced relocation.
"The detonations do not cause concern for the characters, as they did for the Bikinians, nor do they compromise SpongeBob's frequent activities, like visiting hamburger joints or the beach with friends," Barker added.
Barker also insisted that nobody — fictional character or not — should be able to "occupy Bikini."
Summit News also gave some thoughts on this:
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.