University of Washington Professor Holly M. Barker has published an article “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom” that seeks to strip away the true meaning of SpongeBob SquarePants as a colonizing, violent cultural appropriator. Moreover, the cartoon is deemed as “whitewashing of violent American military activities” against natives of the Pacific.” What is most remarkable however is that she appears to be serious.
The article entitled “The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs,” declares that the cartoon works for “normalizing the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland.” The “violent” and “racist” undertones are not missed by Professor Marker.
Barker cannot get beyond the location being the place of one of the atomic bomb tests and SpongeBob seems to telegraph “not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs” while culturally appropriating the Pacific culture by wearing Hawaiian shirt and showing pineapples and tikis.
Barker is a sociological anthropologist who earned her Ph.D., Anthropology, from American University, in 2000.