Monday, 12 September 2011

Spongebob Squarepants: Shameless Health Risk

The Sun carried an article today on the dangers of Spongebob Squarepants. Yes, you read that correctly, the dangers of ... this guy.

I suspect the currant bun just wanted to raise a few hackles amongst its readers - and perhaps a derisory expletive or two - at the expense of people who would suggest such a thing. They are lagging behind the Daily Mail in that respect nowadays, after all.

Here's their take.


SPONGEBOB SquarePants can turn kids into dunces, say researchers.

Just nine minutes of watching the cartoon was found to impair the ability of four-year-olds to learn.

Their behaviour was also worse compared to children the same age who spent the time watching a gentler and more realistic programme — or simply reading.

Professor Angeline Lillard, who led the research, said: "Parents should know that children who have just watched SpongeBob SquarePants, or shows like it, might become compromised in their ability to learn and behave with self-control."
It matters not that the study - such as it calls itself - tested just 60 kids, and that they were all 4 years old when Spongebob Squarepants is intended for a higher age group. Some parents, somewhere, are no doubt already making a mental note to ban their offspring from watching the little yella fella in case their bubble-wrapped preciouses start leaking brain juice through their ears.

And this is the problem, because this nonsense is already flying around the globe at an alarming rate. All of which is quite handy for dragging out the old-fashioned kiddie TV police in the form of people like Dimitri Christakis, who is the type of over-protective hysteric we thought we'd seen the back of.

You know, the kind who predicted world chaos on the back of Tom and Jerry cartoons?

Given the enormous influence that electronic media in all of their forms exerts on the lives of children, it is astonishing how little parents, researchers, and policymakers have been spurred to action.

Most of what has been done to date to understand, curtail, or regulate the negative effects of media on children can be viewed as failure. Every single children's G-rated movie released in US theaters from 1937 to 1999 contained at least 1 act of violence.
I remember that drum being banged when even I was a kid, and some are still refusing to put down the sticks despite no-one taking them seriously, especially since they were gloriously lampooned on The Simpsons.

But where there is a newly-terrorised public willing to believe any old health scare, there's a new angle to help the professionally-deranged tumble out of their box.

Christakis - in a commentary on Lillard's piss poor study - has imagined a new way to present his little crusade. Now, I wonder where he got this idea from?

"Media is a public health issue, and harm reduction approaches are what is needed. Steering children and adolescents toward safe or even health promoting media activities must be a goal, and actionable strategies for reaching that goal must be devised."
Bingo! The new cult of all-encompassing public health - from smoking bans to reading Facebook - delivers once again.

From now on, it's Blue Peter, Newsround, or nothing for the little 'uns, I'm afraid. Anything else and you're a shite parent, don't you see? Child abuser, even.

It's quite amazing what one can achieve with determination, some junk science, and a gullible public wedded to the idea of total elimination of even the most risible of risks. Isn't it?


Anonymous said...

Joseph Mengele would have dreamed of such powers.
Next ?

Sarah said...

If they think SpongeBob is bad, they've clearly never seen "Yo Gabba Gabba"....

Anonymous said...

But why Spongebob Squarepants? Why not some other cartoon? Could this be one media mogul going after another media mogul, similar to the way pharamaceuticals go after the tobacco industry, thus the need for a study?

Frank said...

Can't wait to join the Eloi. Oh, hang on a sec.......

Curmudgeon said...

Makes a change from suggesting Spongebob's relationship with Patrick promotes homosexuality ;-)

Little Black Sambo said...

Denormalize! Denormalize!

Woodsy42 said...

My goodness. My generation was forced to watch the Flower Pot men. So that's why the 60's happened?

Ian R Thorpe said...

Violent? Then drown the politically incorrect little fucker is salt free HP Sauce I say.

When I think of what was on TV when I was a kid, Lone Ranger, Range Rider, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Davy Crockett, Hawkeye, it was a rare scene that was not violent. But we behaved ourselves because we were too enthralled by the violence on TV to cause trouble.

Then along came Blue Peter with all that politically correct stuff and kids started to become delinquents

Sam Duncan said...

I'm not one to jump to conspiracy theories lightly, but this Public Health thing is beginning to look a bit fishy, is it not?

Having said that, I like Eric Raymond's idea of prospiracy: a movement where the members don't necessarily know each other, realise they are members, or understand what binds them together, but have a “secret doctrine” of shared goals greater than those explicitly stated. Careful with that word, though, because it's also been independently coined to mean a “conspiracy to do good”; a usage I'm sure the Public Health prospiracy would be perfectly happy with.

However, as esr says,

“Prospiracy scales better than conspiracy, and thus can be far more dangerous. Because anyone can join simply by buying the “secret” doctrine, people frequently recruit themselves. Because the “secret” isn’t written on stone tablets in an inner sanctum, it’s totally deniable. In fact, members sometimes deny it to themselves (not that that ultimately matters).”

Good concept, but we need a better word for it.

Dick Puddlecote said...

It already has a name, Sam. 'Consensus'. :(

King Athelstan said...

Hmm, really? I'll take that into consideration when monitoring my kids viewing.

Angry Exile said...

"Media is a public health issue..."

Oh for fuck's sake, he's actually serious, isn't he?