May 31, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! “The little fry cook from Bikini Bottom, down in the benthic zone of the Pacific Ocean, has been with us longer than the iPod. . . . As a cartoon, SpongeBob SquarePants absorbed the advances made by John Kricfalusi’s The Ren and Stimpy Show—the mood swings, the fugue-like interludes, the surreal plasticity of the characters—but without the earlier show’s edge of psychic antagonism. There are plenty of gnashing monsters at the borders of Bikini Bottom, and deep-sea gulches where the breath of nothingness blows. SpongeBob is dismembered; SpongeBob explodes; intense emotion flays the sponge-flesh from his sponge-bones. But where Ren and Stimpy seemed bent on freaking out the more fragile (or stoned) sectors of its audience, the SquarePants writers are interested in stories, even in lessons. Again and again, a kind of innocence triumphs—over fear, over snobbery, and over skepticism.”

Plus this: “In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, it is the evil Plankton—sort of a condensed dark-green Bond villain, minute in size but with a huge, bombastic voice—whose brand is triumphant. Having stolen the secret Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs, he then enslaves the population via the distribution of free bucket helmets secretly loaded with brainwashing circuitry. ‘All hail Plankton!’ drone the toiling masses, as fascistic monuments are erected and Bikini Bottom becomes ‘Planktopolis.’”

Whew. That’s scary. Good thing it’s only a cartoon.