Professor Holly Barker of the University of Washington blasted the popular cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants for what she called normalizing “violent” and “racist” colonization of indigenous lands, Sky News reported Saturday.
"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,” she writes.
According to the educator, the cartoon’s main location of Bikini Bottom is a reference to the real-life Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. During the Cold War, the US relocated the native islanders from the area so that they could drop nuclear bombs on their homeland.
This has given rise to some fan theories that somewhat strange-looking inhabitants of Bikini Bottom owe their appearance to nuclear fallout, Sky notes.
In her report, Barker accused the cartoon for "whitewashing of violent American military activities".
"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 wrote.
In addition, she accused the cartoon characters of “cultural appropriation” of the indigenous people, as some characters can be seen wearing Hawaiian shirts and living in Easter Island head-shaped homes.
The cartoon results in US children becoming "culturally acculturated to an ideology that includes the US character SpongeBob residing on another people's homeland.”
If other professors employed by the University of Washington are anything to go by, Barker may receive a $150,000 annual salary for what is said to be scientific research.
If, however, her report is a thought experiment into how anything can be evil or racist, then it may be legitimate research.
But the characters are yellow, green, red and purple...— Mollie (@MollieW152) October 12, 2019
About time we started dealing with the big issues— Mr D (@MrDuperouzel) October 12, 2019
Lord give me strength— Harry Conibear (@h_jamesc) October 12, 2019