Nickelodeon’s favorite yellow frycook got a lot of love this week after Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob Squarepants, passed away due to ALS on Monday November 26.
Tributes, fan art, and favorite memories about the show were shared throughout the week across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. A petition with over 600,000 signatures on Change.org is calling for “Sweet Victory” to be performed during the Super Bowl halftime show in tribute to Hillenburg. The song originally appeared on the episode Band Geeks, in which Spongebob helps Squidward’s failing marching band prepare for a performance at the Bubble Bowl.
Spongebob has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my grandpa and I bonded purely through watching the cartoon together after school and on Saturday mornings. My grandpa, who spent his life building homes across southern California, made one of the bathrooms in our family cabin Spongebob-themed. Complete with rugs, towels, and everything in between, that bathroom was just one example of how much he loved the silly cartoon.
Unlike a lot of shows that we watch through once and eventually forget about, Spongebob Squarepants is still a prominent show in many of our lives today.
In a tribute to the producer, Nickelodeon said the iconic characters will continue to serve as a “reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
Most of the friends I’ve made here at school have shared Spongebob memes, relating them to the struggles of unwanted homework and college life. I can’t be offered chocolate without yelling “WHAT? WHAT ARE THEY SELLIN’?” and receive the answer “THEY’RE SELLIN’ CHOCOLATE!” from any nearby person. I can’t even count the amount of times my friends and I have sang the “Campfire Song Song”, “Krusty Krab Pizza”, and so many other catchy songs that have spawned from the show.
Beyond just finding and making friends, Spongebob, and his best friend Patrick, provide an imperfect example of how to be a friend. Many of their efforts to help out their friends end in comedic chaos or destruction in Bikini Bottom, but Spongebob and Patrick always manage to look at the bright side in the end. They know how to make the simplest things fun, like watching Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy on TV or playing inside of Squidward’s thrown out cardboard box. Most importantly, they know how to support one another. When Spongebob tragically lost the manager position in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Patrick insisted on going out to get Triple Gooberberry Sunrises from the Goofy Goober ice cream parlor to help cheer him up.
Spongebob and Patrick don’t have a perfect friendship, but that makes it more real. While we might not relate to the intense naivety or stupidity that each character possesses, we can relate to the petty arguments they have, the spontaneous adventures they go on, and the unconditional love they have for eachother.
We can learn from Spongebob and Patrick’s friendship, and try to be more like them. Find the fun in simple and ordinary things. Look past the flaws in others and be happily ready to support and love them. When we do these things, I think we’ll be able to look at life how Spongebob does – with a little bit more positivity and hope.
When Stephen Hillenburg created the world of Bikini Bottom almost 20 years ago, he unknowingly created a timeless example of optimism, friendship, and imagination. For that, I thank him and wish him well in what Spongebob refers to as “the great beyond”.