Aye, aye captain!
I can't heeeeaaaar yoooouuu!
AYE, AYE CAPTAIN!
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
If nautical nonsense be somethin' ya wish ...
... then read on ahead for Neatorama's 10 Neat Facts About SpongeBob SquarePants!
1. We can thank Jacques Cousteau for the invention of SpongeBob. Sort of. After finding inspiration in Cousteau films, SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg got a degree in natural resource-planning with an emphasis in marine resources specifically. He taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute for several years before pursuing his second love: animation. You wouldn't think that marine biology and animation necessarily go together, but Hillenburg married his two careers and came up with the squishy yellow guy that made him famous. Hillenburg knows the combination is a strange one ... in 2002, he said, "When you set out to do a show about a sponge, you don't expect the kind of appeal that he's had." Another Hillenburg/SpongeBob similarity: Hillenburg was also a cook at a quick-service restaurant (seafood, actually). Picture from MyMommaMadeMeDoThis.
2. SpongeBob's name was originally supposed to be SpongeBoy, but bizarrely, the name was already copyrighted ... for a mop. I think it's safe to assume that SpongeBoy hasn't reached the household-name status that SpongeBob has. Hillenburg wanted to make sure that the word "Sponge" was retained in Mr. SquarePants' name so children wouldn't mistake him for a large chunk of cheese living under the sea.
3. If the theme song has ever planted itself firmly in your brain for days on end, you're not alone. The catchy tune has been covered many a time, presumably by musicians who decided the only way to get their song out of their skulls was to create a more grown-up version. Based on an old sea shanty called "Blow the Man Down" the song you hear in the cartoon's intro is sung by Painty the Pirate (AKA Patrick Pinney in real life, who has also provided voices for Mighty Mouse, The Fraggles and Robot Chicken). But Avril Lavigne did a punk-pop version for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and the Violent Femmes tried their hand at the ditty for a commercial. Although they haven't covered the theme song specifically, musicians who have appeared on the show or have loaned their music to a Spongy Soundtrack or two include Twisted Sister, Wilco, The Shins, Pantera, The Flaming Lips, and Motorhead. Seriously.
4. Similarly, celebrities are clamoring to do guest spots on the show. To date, stars who have done a stint under the sea include Alec Baldwin (he played a hitman), Alton Brown, Amy Poehler, Christopher Guest, David Bowie, David Hasselhoff, Davy Jones (Davy Jones' locker, duh), Gene Simmons, Johnny Depp, Mark Hamill, Pat Morita, Scarlett Johansson, and Ray Liotta. Picture from Yahoo Movies.
5. Another famous fan? President Obama. He told T.V. Guide in 2007 that his favorite cartoon character is"SpongeBob SquarePants, because SpongeBob is the show I watch with my daughters." Hillenburg was shocked and please to hear that, telling the Washington Post, "That leaves me kind of speechless. There have been some administrations I wouldn't have been happy to hear that from."
6. So why in the heck does SpongeBob live in a pineapple, of all places? If you pay attention to the show, not only do nautical and sailing motifs come up on a regular basis, Polynesian references are often thrown into the mix as well (surely you've noticed Squidward's Easter Island Head home). Pineapples are used commonly in tropical decor, but Stephen Hillenburg also imagines that SpongeBob would just like the way living in a pineapple would smell. Picture from TinyPineapple.
7. That laugh. You know the one I'm talking about. If you think it's grating, imagine having to make that sound as part of your job. Tom Kenny, the voice of Mr. Squarepants, says he makes the distinctive laugh by saying "Ahhhhh" in SpongeBob's voice while hitting himself in the throat repeatedly. Ouch. Kenny says it's supposed to make viewers think of a dolphin with a touch of seagull shriek thrown in for good measure.
8. If you've ever paid close attention, you have probably noticed that Squidward lacks the proper number of tentacles to be a squid or an octopus (the show has referred to him as both over the years). The animators believed that giving Squidward more than six legs would just weigh him down too much visually, so they chose to go with inaccuracy over bad aesthetics. But that makes sense - SpongeBob is clearly a kitchen sponge, not a sea sponge. This was also done for aesthetic reasons - Hillenburg said his drawings of sea sponges looked like nothing more than blobs, and when he substituted a kitchen sponge, it just clicked. Plus, it's funny.
9. SpongeBong HempPants? Yup. Several years ago, a company called Camp Chaos made a cartoon based on SpongeBob and his oceanic friends, except they were all based on drugs and drug paraphernalia. It was never actually released (you know, advocating drug use and all), but the cartoons did turn up on YouTube (doesn't everything?)
10. SpongeBob is not gay. According to Entertainment Weekly, SpongeBob seems to have a loyal following in the gay community because of his "flamboyant attitude and tolerant attitude." Hillenburg has denied that SpongeBob (or any) of the characters on the show are gay. SpongeBob came under fire when two Christian activist groups singled him out for holding hands with his best friend, Patrick, and for appearing in a video promoting diversity and tolerance. Evangelist James Dobson claimed the video was a "pro-homosexual" video. "I always think of [the characters] as being somewhat asexual," he said, adding, ''I do think that the attitude of the show is about tolerance. Everybody is different, and the show embraces that,'' he says. ''No one is shut out.''