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Created: January 28, 2005
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Index of Topics on Site Backup of SpongeBob & the Asexual Crustaceans
By Josh Grossberg
SOURCE: Television E! Online
Copyright: Source Copyright.
Included here under Fair Use Doctrine for teaching purposes.
This backup copy is to be used only if the original site on the Web is not accessible. It is meant to preserve the document for teaching purposes, when sometimes the URLS are changed when sites are updated, or sites are eliminated. Please be certain to give credit if you refer to this to the original URL: Original URL, consulted: January 28, 2005.
This link was submitted by Darcy Alsop as one of the news links she is following on SpongeBob.

Television - E! Online
SpongeBob & the Asexual Crustaceans
Fri Jan 28, 1:00 PM ET

By Josh Grossberg

He's square, he lives in a pineapple under the sea, his best friend's a starfish. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Stephen Hillenburg, the 43-year-old creator of Nickelodeon's hit cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, is setting the record straight regarding the sexuality of his highly absorbent 'toon, days after conservative Christian activists accused SpongeBob of advocating a homosexual agenda by appearing in a video holding hands with pal Patrick the Star Fish.

SpongeBob, says Hillenburg, is not gay. He's just an animated sea creature.

"[Sexuality] doesn't have anything to do with what we're trying to do," Hillenberg told Reuters on Friday from Singapore, where he's attending the Asian premiere of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. "We never intended them to be gay. I consider them to be almost asexual. We're just trying to be funny, and this has got nothing to do with the show."

Hillenberg says that politics have never factored into the show and that the titular sea sponge's sole goal in his porous life is simply to be fun and entertaining--despite the show and its merchandise's obvious popularity among gays.

The SpongeBob brain trust came to the 'toon's defense after a full-blown controversy erupted this week when James Dobson, a Christian radio evangelist and founder of the group Focus on the Family, issued a warning to parents claiming the nave yellow critter and his crustacean compatriots advocated a "pro-homosexual video."

Dobson and his minions believe a music video made by the nonprofit We Are Family Foundation to promote the ideas of tolerance and diversity is really just a cover promoting the gay lifestyle. The video is being distributed to 61,000 U.S. elementary schools and features more than 100 cartoon characters, including SpongeBob, Barney and Big Bird.

"Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity' within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," Dobson said.

The brouhaha over SpongeBob and his Bikini Bottom mates' sexuality is absurd in Hillenberg's opinion.

"I really don't pay much attention to this," the creator, a former marine biologist and father of a six-year-old boy, told Reuters.

Hillenberg said that SpongeBob is just the latest in a long line of kiddie characters to be "outed" by right-wing zealots, a list that includes Scooby-Doo's Velma, Peanuts' Peppermint Patty, Sesame Street's Bert & Ernie and Teletubbies star Tinky Winky, who was targeted by evangelicals in 1999 for supposedly symbolizing gay pride because he's purple, has a triangle on his head and carries a purse.

After being much mocked in the media for his outbust, Dobson "clarified" his remarks, saying he was attacking the group behind the video, not SpongeBob.

The religious leader's crusade might also be the result of a mix-up, since the We Are Family Foundation responsible for the video happens to have the same name as an unaffliliated pro-gay and lesbian group.

Meanwhile, coming to SpongeBob's defense was the 1.3 million-member Cleveland-based United Church of Christ.

"The UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," said general minister and president, the Reverend John H. Thomas, adding that the church has no problem with Barney, Big Bird, Tinky Winky or Clifford the Big Red Dog, either.

"Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

Thomas also called out Dobson.

"While Dobson's silly accusation makes headlines, it's also one more concrete example of how religion is misused over and over to promote intolerance over inclusion," Thomas said.

Controversy or not, SpongeBob is sticking around for awhile. His first movie continues to invade overseas markets, and Nickelodeon has ordered 20 additional episodes for the small screen.

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