Since the French gay and lesbian magazine Têtu broke the news, the reaction on the internet has varied from sniggering to sheer outrage. But this is no hoax: Ukraine’s national expert commission for protecting public morality consider the behaviour of the American cartoon character SpongeBob (who admittedly spends a lot of time with his best friend Patrick in just his swimming trunks) to be well and truly ‘tendentious’.
The commission is basing their argument on a report published by the catholic website 'family under the protection of the holy virgin', who fear that children will imitate SpongeBob’s so-called filthy habits. The report even offers the sharp analysis of psychologist Irina Medvédeva. According to her, after watching SpongeBob’s romantic escapades, children between the ages of three and five ‘pull faces and joke around in front of adults they don’t know, burst out laughing and repeat absurd phrases in an insolent manner’. It makes you wonder what these kids were smoking in front of the box set.
At least there’s one consolation for poor old SpongeBob, who first hit television screens in 1999: he’s not the only one to suffer the commission’s wrath, since the Teletubbies, Simpsons or even Family Guy could be given the boot. While the age-old debate around the homosexuality or asexuality of cartoon heroes (from Tintin to SpongeBob, and not forgetting Tinky Winky with his penchant for girls’ clothes) can certainly be amusing, it also resurfaces in a rather extreme way from time to time. France would be wrong to condemn Ukraine (too harshly) seeing as in 2010 the cartoon Le Baiser de la Lune (‘The Moon’s Kiss’), which follows a love story between two fish, caused so much controversy that in the end it was never shown in French primary schools. Ironically, the very intention of its creators was to explain homosexuality to the younger generation in order to put a stop to negative perceptions and stigma.
Image: © still from a SpongeBob SquarePants episode/ video: (cc) overdriveblackhat/ youtube