As you know by now, SpongeBob SquarePants is apparently flamboyantly homosexual. A veritable flamer. I mean, come on now, he bats his eyelashes and lives in a pineapple under the sea. You can’t get much fruitier than that.
Okay, so it may be slightly strange to analyze an articulate sea creature with opposable thumbs, but DUDE, he holds hands with his friend Patrick. He’s, like, so gay. He even has a fair-sized gay audience — and we all know that gay people only like explicitly gay things. Right?
The “SpongeBob Sexuality Scare” is the most recent event in a series regarding representations of homosexuality in the popular media. Just last week, PBS cancelled an episode of a show which the network found offensively tolerant. Who, you may ask, would dare to normalize homosexuality in such a disturbing way? The culprit is, in fact, a walking, talking, clothed … bunny rabbit named Buster. In one of the episodes, Buster encounters a lesbian couple who live together and have children. Uproar ensued, and now virtually no one will see the show.
All of this goes to show that conservative America has uncanny gaydar — when it wants to. We must not forget its similarly awe-inspiring knack for denial even when slapped in the face by queerness of the most visible degree. (“Dick Cheney’s who? Oh, look, a war!”)
How many conservative parents have found it “nice” or “sweet” that their rather butch daughter has a girlfriend who always spends the night so they can “keep each other warm”? They may happen to live in Texas, but I’m sure that they are just close friends.
Or how about the Yale professor who insisted that neither Walt Whitman nor Emily Dickinson were the teensy-weensiest bit homosexual. Now, that’s a good one. See what I’m saying?
For the moment, let’s smile and nod and pretend that sexuality can be accurately inferred by visible behavior. Let’s temporarily push out of our minds the fact that the attribution of sexuality to an arbitrarily-gendered sponge constitutes this week’s sign the apocalypse is upon us.
Let’s ask: Why SpongeBob? Why Buster? Why not “Will and Grace” or “Ellen”?
Kids of a sexually-aware phase of life are certainly old enough to be channel surfing, and what do you bet that nothing grabs their attention quite like sex? And, though I must admit that the concept of budding and fragmentation makes me pretty hot, I have a gut feeling that kids are more drawn towards the sexuality of “real, live people” than that of asexual, relatively boring sea creatures sporting suspenders. Call it intuition.
This isn’t just about homosexuality and the fear that it is spreading rampantly. In comparison with “acceptable” shows like adult-targeted “Will and Grace,” it seems to be SpongeBob’s children’s show classification that makes his supposed homosexuality a problem. Yet children are probably least inclined to see the alleged sexual undertones of a kitchen appliance. The Right comes up with the best of brain teasers, it gets me every time — at least once they convince me that it’s not all a sick joke.
Truth is, virtually everybody is uncomfortable with the notion of children’s sexuality. Representations of homosexuality arguably can have a profound effect on children, for very logical reasons. Lesbians portrayed on television, for example, can serve as models and enable a girl in the initial phases of self-discovery to feel comfortable asserting her sexuality. This prospect terrifies the conservative powers-that-be because it means that they are no longer absolute dictators of sexual discourse. I can hear them now, tsk-tsking such TV shows and wagging their fingers, saying: “How DARE you influence that girl’s sexuality? That’s OUR job!”
Generally, taboo and social structures attempt to make sex the single most uncomfortable topic to discuss — but paradoxically the most fascinating and compelling one.
Media representations establish a level of normalcy of homosexuality. Do they instill gayness? Not nearly as efficiently as our laws and social mores instill heterosexuality.
This boils it down to what all this hubbub about growing or “spreading” homosexuality is really about: change. I know — it’s no surprise that conservatives are scared shitless of change. But they fear change for a very specific reason. It betrays the arbitrariness of their system. It proves that, despite what they would have us believe, they pulled all of this “morality” stuff out of their asses, and they could bust out a new moral code tomorrow if they so desired.
I have to admit, though, that the Buster show sounds a bit sketchy. It is a scientifically proven fact that lesbians are scary. Lesbians are not funny. Ever. Our children will be scarred for life by exposure to such horribly dangerous, unamusing folk.
What’s that? Well, of course, Ellen Degeneres is hilarious, but …
Loren Krywanczyk likes to wear purple t-shirts.