You Never Noticed, But ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Is A Searing Indictment Of Capitalism
It should come as no surprise that there are hidden themes in SpongeBob SquarePants. There are plenty of complex fan theories out there, including one claiming Pearl was adopted by Mr. Krabs and another postulating that the residents of Bikini Bottom are immortal. It's even possible to connect each of the characters to one of the seven deadly sins.
But the real message of SpongeBob SquarePants might be even more profound: One fan theory states that the show actively deconstructs the very economic system under which it was created. From the caricature of Mr. Krabs as an extreme capitalist to Squidward's relationship to his art, some aspects of SpongeBob SquarePants have led fans to believe the Nickelodeon cartoon has a secret mission to convert kids to communism - or at the very least expose them to the injustices of workplace mistreatment.
This list compiles notable instances of SpongeBob revealing its anti-capitalist agenda. Surprising as it may seem, there are many.
Mr. Krabs Is The Poster Child For Commodity Fetishism
Marxist theory states that commodity fetishism occurs when social relationships become intrinsically tied to the exchange of capital. Mr. Krabs is an embodiment of this concept. His love of money supersedes his relationships with friends, employees, and even his daughter.
The shrewd business owner once sold SpongeBob's soul for 62 cents. If that's the future capitalists want, it's clear the show's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, was having none of it.
Patrick Avoids Manipulation By Refusing To Live Above His Means
While many think Patrick Star is a bum, in truth, he's one of the only residents of Bikini Bottom who's found a way out of the endless class struggle. It's true he has no job for most of the series, but he also lives under a rock furnished with nothing but sand. He's happy spending time with his friends, using what little money he has to enjoy experiences with SpongeBob.
He's escaped the endless grind of wage captivity and is perhaps the real hero of the show.
Sandy And Plankton Represent The Role Of Science In Different Economic Systems
Sandy Cheeks is a brilliant scientist who lives in Bikini Bottom purely to research its inhabitants. Plankton is a money-grubbing capitalist who uses his technological prowess to try to take over the world. Each represents a different role of science in our society: Sandy uses science purely for the sake of knowledge, while Plankton sees it as a means to secure power and control.
It's no coincidence only one of these characters is shown to be happy and having a beneficial effect on the community.
In Bikini Bottom, Wages Don't Reflect The Skill Of The Worker
Though the Fry Cook Games don't have a clear victor, one could argue there is no better fry cook in Bikini Bottom than SpongeBob, himself. Why is it, then, that SpongeBob makes as little as a quarter a month at the Krusty Krab?
The easy answer derives from one tenet of Marxist theory: All the capitalist's profits must come at the expense of the worker. In this case, that worker is comrade SpongeBob.
The Rivalry Between Krabs And Plankton Reveals The Pitfalls Of Capitalism
The Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket have been at odds since the beginning of SpongeBob SquarePants. According to the Austrian school of economics, this should mean they'll compete to create the best product, and the market will reward the winner.
Fans of SpongeBob know, however, that the only competition between the two is who can keep their hands on the Krabby Patty formula the longest.
Bikini Bottom's Lack Of Unemployment Resources Forces SpongeBob Back Into His Old Job
While some see it as an indictment of the welfare state, the episode "SpongeBob You're Fired" only serves to highlight the lack of resources available to a recently unemployed SpongeBob. After being booted from the Krusty Krab as a part of Mr. Krabs's efforts to cut back on labor costs, SpongeBob desperately tries to work anywhere else. Unfortunately, he's a specialized worker, trained only to make Krabby Patties.
With no job skill training program, he's useless at any other job. This forces him into an endless cycle of manipulation at the hands of Mr. Krabs.