SpongeBob 23 years later still holds the world in his hands – The Orion
These two words are what I live for. Although not a perfect character, SpongeBob has characteristics that I have always tried to emulate. His perseverance and ability to keep moving forward and coming out on top at the end of an episode inspires me.
The first episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants” premiered on May 1, 1999. That means the show turned 23 this year, and it also means I’m 20 days older than Spongebob.
Since the first episode, SpongeBob has been a cultural force and perhaps the greatest cartoon of all time.
SpongeBob was created by Stephen Hillenburg, a former California State University graduate student at Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly known as Humboldt State University). Hillenburg became a professor of marine biology at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California after graduating.
One day he was asked to create an educational comic for the institution, and there, despite using a completely different design, he made SpongeBob SquarePants, the first idea for the character that many of taught us to know and to love.
After a few years of working as a teacher, Hillenberg decided to transition from teaching to studying art, enrolling in the master’s program at the California Institute of Arts.
After graduating, Hillenberg got a directing job on the legendary show “Rocko’s Modern Life.”
When the show ended, Hillenburg decided to make his own cartoon, and from there, our beloved cook who lives in a pineapple under the sea really started to come to fruition.
Hillenburg’s idea for SpongeBob was an underwater version of Jerry Lewis, a nerd in the form of a sink sponge.
Hillenburg created a pitch bible with future creative director Derek Draymond and art director Nick Jennings.
A legendary pitch later, he got cash from Nickelodeon and two weeks to write the pilot. Eventually, it got the go-ahead for 13 episodes, and the rest is history.
Aside from childhooding countless children, the show’s most significant impact has been on meme culture. Open any social media app and I guarantee you’ll see at least one Spongebob meme if you stay on that app long enough. Or you can google “SpongeBob meme” and be completely overwhelmed by the plethora of memes.
Seasons 1-3 are the best. My mom told me I couldn’t stop watching it when I was a kid. This is true to this day, especially after extracurricular activities.
Now SpongeBob has become a show I watch for inspiration. It helps me relax my mind because I never get bored of it even after watching the same episodes hundreds of times. It’s funny, the characters are memorable, and the story of each episode, when written well, is probably the best writing in cartoon history.
Believe me, it has many exceptionally written episodes. Yes, there have been tough times in the show’s history, but that hasn’t slowed down the adventures and shenanigans of Spongebob and his friends. They created three movies that made them millions and had many comeback seasons.
The last two years have been pretty tough, but when I put the show together, it takes me back to a time in life where I felt like I had no problems.
And for the character himself, voiced by Tom Kenny, his bright and happy personality keeps us feeling positive. It inspired me as a child and even now, as an adult.
Sadly, the creator, Stephen Hillenburg, died at age 57 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, on November 26, 2018.
Spongebob still lives. The show is still airing with new episodes, but even if it ended today, Hillenburg’s creation would continue to impact future generations, likely forever.
Mario Ortiz can be reached at [email protected] or @realnameismario on Twitter.