This essay focuses on the animated television show, Spongebob Squarepants, and how the televisual flow is set up for children.
|Scooped by Ryan Aboulhosn|
Spongebob Squarepants, An Animation Hero
It has been Nickelodeon’s most popular television show for over a decade. It is a cartoon that caters to children and adults alike. The show even had its own feature film in theatres which brought in millions of box office dollars. It is Spongebob Squarepants, of course.
Spongebob Squarepants is an animated television series that plays on Nickelodeon daily. The entire show is based underwater, starring a cast entirely made up of marine animals. The shows main character is Spongebob Squarepants. He is a childish, immature, annoying, and lovable sponge who works at The Krusty Krab as a fry cook, one of the seas greatest. The Krusty Krab is basically an underwater version of McDonald’s. It is owned by Eugene Krabs, usually referred to in the show as Mr. Krabs. Mr. Krabs is an extremely cheap crab who has been shown to literally freak out over a dollar. Spongebob lives next door to Squidward Tentacles, who is an easily annoyed squid who really hates the fact that Spongebob lives right next door. Squidward also works at The Krusty Krab as a cashier, so he never really has any alone time from Spongebob. Living down the street from both Spongebob and Squidward is Patrick Star. Patrick literally lives under a rock, which serves as a hidden testament to how unintelligent he is. Patrick is a starfish and Spongebob’s best friend who also serves as an annoyance to Squidward. The show features tons of other characters also, but all with a more reserved role.
Spongebob Squarepants was created by Stephen Hillenburg, a former marine biologist turned animator. The show aired first in 1999 and continues to run to this day. It airs on Nickelodeon, arguably the most popular children’s network in the history of television. Reruns and new episodes alike air on Nickelodeon throughout the day, usually in the afternoons.
Though Spongebob’s age is never revealed, the show’s theme feels like it concentrates on the general principles of growing up and how to handle life, whether they be social situations, your job, or (boating) school. Most television shows air one episode at a time. Spongebob, however, has block scheduling for the most part. Every time the show airs, it airs for at least a couple of hours at a time.
The messages conveyed through the flow of TV programming around Spongebob are all just extremely bright and happy. The show itself is portrayed in bright colors, funny jokes, lovable characters, etc. When an episode ends, Nickelodeon plugs either another episode of Spongebob or a different program coming up soon. Also, the last commercial seen before the show returns is yet another advertisement for an episode of Spongebob or a similar show. Some other shows that are advertised, however, contradict the flow and may not be targeted to suit the children who watch Spongebob. For example, a show like Drake & Josh may be well-suited for young teenagers instead of toddlers.
Commercials play an enormous role in the flow of TV programming. Most of the commercials surrounding Spongebob have to do with toys. The advertisers are aware that the children watching are going to want these toys and pester their parents to buy them. Some other commercials feature food and candy tailored to children, such as a McDonald’s happy meal or Fruit Roll-Ups. Another contradiction to the flow can be seen when an advertisement for a Swiffer Wet Jet was shown. Parents, mainly housewives and mothers, watch these cartoons with their children so it’s only natural to advertise to them as well. There were virtually little to no commercials custom-fit to older men, such as car or tool advertisements. This is because that is not part of the shows demographic and it would only bore the children watching it, risking them changing the channel.
Nickelodeon also incorporates in-show advertisements into each episode of Spongebob. These advertisements either tell the viewer to stick around for another episode, a different show, or to go on the Nickelodeon website and play a game. The main idea they are trying to get across is that the viewer can get all of their entertainment needs satisfied from Nickelodeon, whether it be on television, on the internet, or with toys that are sponsored by the network.
As mentioned before, Nickelodeon is a program that is tailored to entertain those from the ages of 3 to as late as 15. Spongebob, however, is a show that has a reputation of being popular for any age group. There are many jokes in the show that “only adults would understand”. Children below the age of 10 make up the shows major audience, though. The message of the show makes it feel like the program wants its viewers to grow up with Spongebob. Spongebob has become one of the country’s most marketable cartoons over the last decade so it’s becoming easier to do so.
It truly was a hilarious show that many people grew up with. Personally, I have tons of early memories on Saturday mornings watching the annoying little sponge. Though Spongebob is on a decline in terms of popularity and knee-slapping laughter (in my opinion), the show has left its mark in American history and has changed animated television forever.