Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
A few months ago, I wrote a column about how a group of topless female protesters was planning to stage demonstrations at Euro 2012, a massive European soccer tournament held in Ukraine and Poland back in June. The group, Femen, was concerned that Euro 2012, which drew millions of foreign visitors, would contribute to the prostitution and sex trafficking already rampant in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, and they figured their bare breasts could put a stop to it.
As far as I can tell, the members of Femen organized four protests during the tournament, briefly commandeered the Euro 2012 trophy, got themselves arrested three times and claimed that three of their members were abducted and never seen again. I have no idea if their protests curbed prostitution, which is illegal in Ukraine, or if they made sex traffickers start helping girls instead of preying on them, but I do know that apparently Femen was fighting the wrong enemy.
You see, in Ukraine, it seems topless women, widespread illegal prostitution and girls disappearing without a trace aren’t considered problems of public morality. No, the real threat to Ukraine’s moral fiber is something much more insidious and disturbing: SpongeBob Squarepants.
According to a recent report from Ukraine’s National Expert Commission for Protecting Public Morality, SpongeBob and other shows like “Family Guy,” “Futurama,” “Pokemon,” “The Simpsons” and “Teletubbies” are “projects aimed at the destruction of the family and the promotion of drugs and other vices.” This makes sense, because in virtually every episode of his show, SpongeBob is depicted snorting cocaine, which is probably not the sort of thing impressionable Ukrainian children should be watching.
Surprisingly enough, the report was not authored by Jerry Falwell or some other do-gooder from America’s religious right, but I imagine Falwell would have approved wholeheartedly of the report’s conclusions if he were still alive. It was Reverend Jerry, after all, who in 1999 famously decided that Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies, was gay. (What a preacher who was 66 at the time was doing watching “Teletubbies” enough to determine that one of the asexual characters was gay is beyond me, but it was nice to know his gaydar was able to recognize the threat.)
I’m not here to defend the Teletubbies, though, because, to be frank, they scare the living crap out of me. If they should be banned in Ukraine or anywhere else, I would absolutely applaud such a decision. SpongeBob, on the other hand, is a different story.
As luck would have it, I happen to be an expert on the subject of SpongeBob, as my son loves the show, so I consider myself uniquely qualified to comment. Admittedly, when you think of history’s most infamous villains – Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin – you have to mention SpongeBob in the same breath, but the specific allegations against him outlined in the Ukrainian report are somewhat misleading.
A psychologist quoted in the report claimed that after watching “SpongeBob Squarepants,” children aged 3 to 5 “make jokes in front of adults they don’t know, laugh out loud and repeat nonsense phrases in a brazen manner.” I can see why this is a problem. We certainly don’t want children laughing out loud, and any 3-year-old repeating nonsense phrases must be possessed by some sort of demon.
Another claim, however – that SpongeBob is gay – is 100 percent false. Had the report’s authors actually watched an episode, they would have known that SpongeBob has a girlfriend, a scuba-diving squirrel named Sandy. To me, knowing that the authors weren’t even aware of such a basic fact pretty much invalidates all of their findings.
So is it safe to assume that the authors of the report haven’t watched any of the shows they would like to see banned? Probably, which might explain why they think “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” are trying to destroy the family. Yes, they’re slightly subversive and frequently in poor taste, but in Ukraine, which has a divorce rate of 40 percent, couples like Homer and Marge Simpson, who have been married for 22 years, and Peter and Lois Griffin, who have been together for 13, should be lauded rather than vilified.
It remains to be seen if any of the shows on the National Expert Commission’s hit list will actually be banned in Ukraine, but if they are, I’m calling on Femen to protest the decision. If Ukrainians can’t watch cartoons, they should at least be able to see outraged naked breasts instead. That would be much more wholesome family fare.
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