Today I found myself watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants and becoming increasingly annoyed. Now I know some of you are busy wildly speculating why I would be watching a cartoon, but stay with me here.
In this particular episode, Spongebob and Patrick found a baby scallop and decided to become a Mommy and Daddy as they raised the scallop together. Spongebob took on the roll of ‘Mother’ and Patrick alternatively became the ‘Father.’ After a few minutes of cooing over the cuteness of the baby scallop, they set about their new daily routine.
Obviously, since Spongebob was the Mommy, he stayed home to take care of the baby scallop. He also did all of the cooking, the cleaning, and the wash. The work load for him was tremendous. Just to keep up, he literally sprouted 10 new arms from his body in order to hold the baby, accomplish his chores, and keep a pained and panicked smile on his face at all times.
Patrick was the Daddy so it was his job to rudely cram Spongebob’s cooking down his gullet, make a clever quip, and look all shifty when Spongebob pleadingly asked him to at least change the baby. Selfishly refusing to even give the haggard Spongebob that much of a helping hand, Patrick then pretended like he had to rush off to work and disappeared.
Every day, when Patrick came home, Spongebob would sweetly ask him if he could take care of the baby scallop for a minute and allow him a break. And every day, Patrick would insist his day at work was very busy as he promptly headed towards television set to veg out. The valiant Spongebob kept working, even though it was obvious his condition was deteriorating.
I have to think that even to a 5 year old child, the message in this episode of Spongebob Squarepants was insultingly clear: Mothers do everything. Fathers are worthless. Mothers are generous, nurturing superheroes. Fathers are inconsiderate, lazy clods. Mothers take care of the baby and do all household chores. Fathers blatantly ignore Mommy’s sacrifices and don’t do a damn thing all day long. Hell, even when they’re ‘at work,’ they’re really not doing much more than eating donuts and watching even more television…as Spongebob coyly revealed after following Patrick one day. Of course, Patrick did attempt to defend himself by saying, “It’s not as easy as it looks! Sometimes I have to change the channel!”
And please, let’s not even get me started on the scene where, after promising Spongebob that he would come home early from work to give him a break, Patrick instead goes partying with his buddies. He finally shows up at around midnight with a lampshade on his head and a posture that strongly suggested inebriation. Dads are so fucking unreliable!
What a nice message to send our children, don’t you think?
The entire family concept is currently in a crisis and we wonder why. Little boys are growing up not knowing how to be good Fathers and little girls are growing up with this crazy idea in their head that they have to martyr themselves in the name of their children. Yet, no one seems to know exactly where these attitudes and biases are coming from.
I’m thinking people need to start watching more television cartoons. They might learn something.
Lord knows our children are.
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